Narcisse Tordoir

As of 20 September, Narcisse Tordoir will be displaying a monumental work and four drawings in the historical rooms of the museum.

In 2014, the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art (M HKA) organised a successful exhibition of work by Antwerp artist Narcisse Tordoir. The city then bought one of the monumental paintings from The Pink Spy series for its urban art patrimony. Narcisse Tordoir subsequently donated four drawings from the series to the Prentenkabinet.
From 20 September onwards, Tordoir will be showing these drawings and monumental work in the museum’s historical rooms. The old library is the perfect place to confront his impressive work with the museum’s historical context.
The Pink Spy
With The Pink Spy series (2013), Tordoir chimes in perfectly with the tradition of the Venetian late-Baroque painter Battista Tiepolo. Tordoir is mainly inspired by the set of Capricci and Scherzi etchings by Tiepolo. This set shows a world of strangers, (abandoned) elderly and bizarre characters on the underbelly of society. Tordoir refers to the unsettled world to which we all belong. In this series, The Oriental has a connecting function. He appears on the scene at Tiepolo and shows up in Tordoir’s work. This Oriental is, in his elusive guises, a metaphor for the artist, philosopher, poet and scientist.
The expression of the dog
Before The Pink Spy series, the Antwerp artist directed a tableau-vivant with extras. In the staging which the Museum makes for The Pink Spy / Kids, you will bump into the plaster cast of a fiercely expressive dog. That image echoes with the dog on the monumental screen. For the dog, Tordoir took his inspiration from a drawing by Jacob Jordaens from the collection of the Museum Plantin-Moretus. Jordaens further elaborated on the dog in his painting Le piqueur et ses chiens (The hunt master and his dogs). That work belongs to the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Lille.
Consumption and pollution
In the backdrop of The Pink Spy / Kids, pollution is implicitly present. We see excesses that result from our consumerism. Besides the canvas, Tordoir places two ancient letter blocks in lead next to the work. One of the blocks is not affected by pollution, the other is. In fact, one letter cube is literally bursting at the seams. The polluted – toxic – lead jumps out of the ordered boundary. It makes you consider the effects of pollution, not only general public health but also the sustainability of our collective cultural heritage.
Four sketches for the Museum Plantin-Moretus
Drawings are visible traces of thinking. Sketches illustrate the efforts of Tordoir to focus his intentions. This process is based on sometimes visible and literally torn ‘expressive’ actions.  Torn sections are tentatively patched up with brightly-coloured tape. They are fundamental artistic investigations into the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of an image. Thanks to preliminary studies, this image can lead to a great piece of art that relates to the soul.


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