Robert Filliou, a name that didn’t ring a bell before visiting the exhibition currently running in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA). Alongside this exhibition you could visit “From Broodthaers to Braeckman”, a photography exhibition I’ve reviewed before. The initiative to step foot in this museum came from a teacher, we had to visit the exhibition and answer a few of her question later on.
Robert Filliou, a French artist, born in 1926. As it’s a retrospective exhibition, there’s a time line created with a lot of his work. From what I gathered, and since I am such a dilettante, his work is very conceptual and not easy to understand without the right amount of information. The museum did provide a few cards with text, with quotes by Filliou and a short explanation on it. I have not been able to take the time to immerse myself into the world of conceptualism. During my previous studies, Art science and Archaeology, I’ve always focussed on the masters of the distant past. So excuse me for my lack of knowledge, this post is a ramble of my thoughts during and after the exhibition.
An aspect that frequently popped up was the secret of the permanent creation. It was a vague concept which I didn’t understand because of multiple reasons, first of all I didn’t have the time to do some research in advance. Second, museumfatigue. I visited the museum a few weeks ago on a Sunday and arrived around noon and left at closing time. The other exhibition ‘From Broodthaers to Braeckman’ needed a lot of my attention and thoughts. When I got to the second floor Robert Filliou his work was up for viewing and understanding.
Filliou is linked to the dadaists, who lived in the early twentieth century and lived by the phrase “art is more interesting than life.” Filliou builds on this and says “art is what makes life more interesting than art“.
There’s is some sort of poetic side in his work. As you can see in the photo above, he literally visualises poems as sculptures.
The thing I find very fascinating was the amount of research present in his work. He said “research isn’t the privilige of those who know, but the domain of those who don’t know.” Filliou sees research as a gateway to curiousity and experiment in our lives. “Art needs to refer to other things than art, if it doesn’t it has a problem.”
There were pieces present which refer to war. He pleads for peace. One of the ideas that popped up was a comité for the exchange of monuments of war between countries. Those who think of war, need to exchange their monuments. His last ever piece was “Time in a Nutshell” (1987). Walnuts are filled with little messages and placed on different spots. Throughout the exhibition you’d see a walnut pop up on the floor under another piece of his.
An installation permanently built in the museum is his project around toiletdoors. It consists of three doors, one for the men, one for the women and one for the artists. It originally was made for the museum of Mönchengladbach, but eventually realized in M HKA. I always wondered why three doors were present in the toilets, now I know why.
The piece Input/Output Analysis was one of the pieces that stuck with me the most when I left the museum. ” […] to photographically define the relationship each one has with the other person. For example: in a photo, I show the relationship I have with you. And then you’re asked to show the relationship you have with me in a photo. First, on a panel, there’s for example Irmeline, and the names of all the persons to whom you show your relationship through a photo. And so it continues. There are seven panels like that and you put all the pictures together. If you read horizontally, you see the relationship of Irmeline with Robert, Paul, Pierre, etc. from her point of view. But when you look vertically, you see her relationship with the people, but from their point of view.”
I do am fascinated by this man his mind, I want to know more, understand more.
If you want more information, you can go to their website here.