Filip Henin

Regarding Past at Noon

14 January – 04 March 2023
Robert Grunenberg is pleased to present “Regarding Past at Noon”, the first solo exhibition by Filip Henin, at Robert Grunenberg. On display are 14 new works by the artist, all of which have been created over the past year.

Solo Exhibition:
Filip Henin
Regarding Past at Noon
Robert Grunenberg
14.01.2023 – 04.03.2023

Loven (2022) is a man swimming in the ice-blue water in full costume – one recognizes a brown jacket, under which a white shirt peeps out. You think you recognize his larval face from paintings by James Ensor, with its rosy complexion and thin mustache, the whiskers of which stretch across his cheeks like the smacks of a frat boy. But they could also be very fresh scratches. Possibly this gentleman in the water is a shipwrecked survivor? After all, he is swimming under a sky that is glowing red as if lit up by an explosion. 

But then a hand drifts into the picture at the left edge, floating inexplicably in the fiery red sky. Painterly fantasy and intervention at the same time, the hand seems to emphasize the artistic calculation of the scenery. The shipwreck with the spectator is not a reportage, it takes place from the events on the canvas, the inherent logic of the painting process, which always remains a mystery for the viewer. 

Filip Henin, born in 1986 in Mayen (DE), studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, where he graduated under Walter Dahn. The times he spent with his family in the Italian Alps as a child and teenager were formative for him, and are then echoed in his paintings. In it, the isolated human figure in nature is a recurring motif. Sometimes they lie quite naturally in the midsummer yellow grass of the alpine meadows of his childhood, as in History in Me (2022), other times she sits smoking as a naked boy under a parasol with the inscription Alco (2022). 

Admittedly, they are not stuck in the bright sand of the beach, but in the black earth of a desert-like, empty stretch of land.

The usual tourist-urban beach can certainly be found in Henin’s work, as in the place where modern man creates his Eden; where he enjoys himself naked and unarmed under palm trees, as in Parkin (2022) or Mother’s Wish (2022), where nature pretends to be serene – and where the artist’s landscape is not black, but his humor is, and the picturesque narrative, as in Company of Masters (2022), turns lurid and burlesque.
The abysmal, and this is what distinguishes Filip Henin’s painterly work, is found in the open scene, it shows itself in broad daylight, in classical settings, in the eventually barely noticeable, but also sometimes in clear exaggeration; it is found in the references to contemporary influences, such as Miriam Cahn, Amelie von Wulffen or Raymond Pettibon, from whom Henin borrowed the green pumpkin head that lies next to Charlie (2022) on the night-black beach.

The trace of the disembodied head also leads to the Italian Transavanguardia, to Francesco Clemente and Mimmo Paladino. One thinks of the latter’s intense preoccupation with mythological themes in Filip Henin’s elegant greyhound as it watches Under the Tree (2022) over the two disembodied heads on an orange background, recalling the Capitoline she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. Without fail, the motif Floating Head (2022) refers to Odilon Redon, the French symbolist whom Henin holds in high esteem – just like the giant spider in No Title (2022). 

As a fantastic spawn of climate change, one might think, this immense weaver-carnal appears above the romantic landscape with a male nude, in the greatest heat of the day, when something sinister is palpable in the idyll of nature, “as if the dreams of the noonday sleepers were creeping about,” as the poet Jean-Paul says. And doesn’t the exhibition title Regarding Past at Noon also speak of this hour of the pan? Therefore, we need not immediately fall into terror, mean to us the images of the exhibition, or better just that of a lucid painting. 

Text: Brigitte Werneburg

For more information, please contact the gallery: mail@robertgrunenberg.com

This exhibition is supported by