Jan Fabre: Congo

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 (Jan Fabre, 'The Art of the Colonies', 2013 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'The Art of the Colonies', 2013 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
 (Jan Fabre, 'Les Noirs du Congo belge connaissent le claquement du fouet' (triptyque), 2013 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'Les Noirs du Congo belge connaissent le claquement du fouet' (triptyque), 2013 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
 (Jan Fabre, 'The Pot Calls the Kettle Black', 2012 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'The Pot Calls the Kettle Black', 2012 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
 (Jan Fabre, 'Purity on its Knees', 2015 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'Purity on its Knees', 2015 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
 (Jan Fabre, 'Aloys Bigirumwami, First Black Bishop', 2012 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'Aloys Bigirumwami, First Black Bishop', 2012 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
 (Jan Fabre, 'Belgian Rules', 2012 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'Belgian Rules', 2012 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
 (Jan Fabre, 'Venturing on Slippery Iron' (triptyque), 2013 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris)
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Jan Fabre, 'Venturing on Slippery Iron' (triptyque), 2013 / Courtesy de l'artiste et galerie Daniel Templon, Paris

Flemish artist Jan Fabre pays tribute to the Congolese exploited under colonialist rule in his latest exhibition ‘Congo’, and denounces the horrors of the period during which Belgian King Leopold II founded the Congo Free State during the late 19th century, exploiting it as a private venture and leaving the Congolese to work and live in scandalous conditions. His primary material is elytra, the hardened forewing that covers beetle wings: shimmering emerald carapaces that he shapes into images parodying colonialist propaganda. 

Fabre’s pieces are magnificent. Thousands of insects died to create them, echoing the bloodbaths over which colonial empires are built. Official portraits of Léopold II and the missionary Amaat Vynke feature, as well as slavery scenes that hark back to 19th century colonial etchings. Haunted by death and violence, this beautiful exhibition has a cutting irony that packs a vicious punch. 

By: MD/MH

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