° Belgium 1979

lives and works in Ghent — Belgium


Michaël Aerts participated at Coup de Ville 2016. This text was published in the catalogue.


Michaël Aerts is fascinated by physical and mental mobility. We are an artefact of different cultures, we create ideas to communicate and objects that we pass on. In his art he departs from the past, with an eye for things we have known for centuries and with which we interface on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the viewer only sees the real world indirectly in his work. The artist refers to the shift and regards it as a metaphor for his artistic approach: the actual content is hidden by boxes, cartons and other packaging material. Each relocation is a form of conscious selection. What do we wish to physically keep and what things do we elect to carry forward virtually, as a memory? What do we subsequently glean and what issues remain concealed?


In the Coup de Ville exhibition the artist presents busts together with design drawings and a cartographic series that is appropriately exhibited in the Mercator museum.


He wrapped existing classical busts in shrink film and then cast them in white bronze, resulting in an abstract and sleek design. For Aerts this connects with the current period whereby subjective characteristics become conveyed. The bust transforms man into an object. The surface is mirror-like and thus reflects the environment and we also literally see ourselves in the sculpture. He also wants the viewer to cogitate and form ideas. Thus the title ‘Every Idea’ suggests that any idea can lead to something big and he states in ‘Every Hero’ that everyone has the potential for heroism.


Something similar occurs with the maps crafted with gold and silver leaf. Maps represent a place and reflect on reality. Although they are two-dimensional, Aerts gives them a three- dimensional character through the folds in the maps and the reflection in the material. Depending on one’s viewing position, the reflection and thus perception differs every time.


With red striped patterns he brings perspective, which again prompts imaginary spatiality. Aerts invites the viewer to look in a more nuanced way at reality by utilizing abstraction, thereby stimulating our thinking process. Daring to think, then formulating ideas and disseminating them is not obvious. But in this way we contribute to the spirit of tomorrow.