Antoine Roegiers, 'Les Sept Péchés capitaux'

Art, Drawing and illustration Free
4 out of 5 stars
Exposition d'Antoine Roegiers
Courtesy de la galerie Praz-Delavallade 'Les sept péchés capitaux' (extrait de la vidéo), 2012

As densely populated as a ‘Where’s Wally?’ spread, Pieter Brueghel and Jérôme Bosch’s canvases teem with life like beehives about to explode. Men, women, animals, monsters and machines are piled on top of each other, their grotesque arrangements containing infinite narrative possibilities. To experience them better, you almost want to plunge into these strange worlds and see the demonic cauldrons light up, the lovers embrace and the hybrid insects beat their wings and fly away – a slightly disturbing fantasy, which Antoine Roegiers has brought to life, transforming the works of the Flemish masters into animated films.

The 32-year-old Belgain artist works from numbered reproductions of the original works, cutting them up, rearranging them and inspecting every detail on his computer to get the setting right. After ‘The Temptation of Saint Antoine’ (Bosch) and ‘Flemish Proverbs’ (Brueghel), this show revisits Brueghel’s ‘Seven Deadly Sins’  (1558) – an ensemble of etchings that Roegiers has this time copied mostly by hand, with a quill pen and brown ink. The result: seven captivating videos of around three minutes each.

Faithful to the artist’s vision, Roegiers puts lust, wrath, greed and envy in motion, inventing a narrative progression for each situation. To a soothing soundtrack, the characters circulate like flotsam in the middle of these infernal kingdoms, where reptiles drink from beer glasses (Gluttony) and giants haunt depraved villages with knives between their teeth (Anger). From time to time, colour splashes across these sepia-toned allegories – peacock-feather blue (Pride), the green of a viscous drink (Gluttony), red tongues licking between a woman’s legs (Lust). The impressive ensemble brings Brueghel’s dark fantasies to life with all the cruelty of the Brothers Grimm fairytales, in a learned mixture of candour, baseness and poetry.

Roegiers doesn’t content himself with channelling art history, he positions himself as the successor to a tradition. ‘Animation’, here, performs its true calling: held prisoner of flat paper for centuries, these mad Flemish fantasies can at last come fully to life.

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