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
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