The Belgian conceptual artist Kris Martin (1972) completed a metal frame that exactly mimics the form of the framework of the multi-paneled Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by the Van Eyck brothers. Altar is an empty frame that stands erected on the beach of Ostend and it invites the visitor to cast a view on the see through the ‘window'. Martin says: ‘This is an open window, a window to the sea in this case. The outline changes with respect to whether you stand close-by or far away. It creates a sort of tableau vivant. It is ever changing, the colours are always different, because the sea is always different: untamed and unpredictable'. With simple intervention, Martin brings new life into old things, objects that he appropriates. His work is poetic and contemplative and reminds us of the brevity and impermanence of the human condition.
Martin developed Altar on the behest of Jan Hoet for the exhibition, The Sea (De Zee). Hoet was curator of Documenta IX and founder of the S.M.A.K. in Ghent (Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art) The main lines of The Sea were drawn out by Jan Hoet in 2013 in close collaboration with co-curator Phillip Van den Bossche. The Sea would become Hoet's final exhibition. Hoet passed away at the beginning of 2014. The work for the exhibition was continued by others and it was christened The Sea-salut d'honneur Jan Hoet.
With a work that refers to the Ghent Altarpiece, Kris Martin wants to place an extra emphasis on the preference of Jan Hoet for the masterpiece. With this, he also indirectly points to the exhibition Saint John (Sint-Jan), which was held in the Ghent Saint Bavo Cathedral by Jan Hoet in 2012. Martin was one of the initiators for this event.
The Ghent Altarpiece (Saint Bavo Cathedral) is currently being restored in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent.
Exhibition The Sea-salut d'honneur Jan Hoet
Through April 19 2015
(News item October 24 2014)