Do we feel with our brain and think with our heart?

12 December, 2014 - 28 February, 2015

Galerie Klüser

Jan Fabre’s artistic work is characterised by a striving for the sublime and the search for beauty and perfection. In all this, his focus is on the human body. Consequently, he pays particular attention to the brain as the central organ dealing with sensual impressions and directing our movements and actions.
For more than 10 years now, Fabre has devoted himself to a thorough investigation into the human cerebrum, which – in the artist’s view – is the most mysterious part of our bodies.The basis to the exhibition “Do we feel with our brain and think with our heart?” is a long, intense dialogue with the neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, the discoverer of mirror neurons, which provide the foundation to our sense of empathy. However, even to the present day there is a lack of research on some of the brain’s processes, ways of functioning and connections. It still represents a partial terra incognita for science. Since time immemorial, western culture has defined our personalities through two organs understood as dichotomous: the brain and the heart. Emotion, spiritual senses, intuition and the creative process have always been supposed by our culture to lodge in the heart, forming the linchpin of much artistic debate on the significance of an integral perception of intellect and emotion. Now Fabre, using an artistic approach and the resources of a scientist, devotes himself to the question whether we think with our hearts and feel with our brains or vice versa, personally taking on the task of exploring this new territory.
The works shown in the exhibition are the outcome of this intense working method. The exhibition’s centrepiece is a fourteen-minute film, in which Fabre and Rizzolatti fathom, via self-experiment among other things, the neurons’ mode of functioning and their limitations. With sculptures made from silicon, paired with various other objects, Fabre transforms the object into a symbol. The drawings, which seem almost surreal on occasion, probe chiefly the links between the brain, the heart and the body. “Where there is an understanding of perception – as Joseph Beuys once said – we find reality.”
Jan Fabre

About the artist

Jan Fabre not only built up a reputation as a visual artist but also as a director, choreographer and playwright. He was born in 1958 in Antwerp where he still lives and works. His body of work is as versatile as his talents. In the 70s he became famous due to his performance art. For instance, he made drawings by using the remaining ash of burned banknotes. A few years later Fabre devoted himself mainly to sculpture. He was especially inspired by Flemish old masters. Up to the present day, the body and its anatomy constitute a consistent topic throughout his work. Some sculptures are made out of traditional materials like marble and bronze, others arise out of silicone or are decorated with shimmering beetle shells. Apart from sculptural work, Fabre also creates numerous drawings with ballpoint on paper or even on objects and architecture. His work is included in several international collections, for instance the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris. The Galerie Klüser has been representing the artist since 1994. In addition, the gallery supported and organised several museum exhibitions and is also the publisher of many editions.

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