Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
The irony of Wim Delvoye
Wim Delvoye. Dual Möbius Quad Corpus. Courtesy of Sperone Westwater.

Wim Delvoye. Dual Möbius Quad Corpus. Courtesy of Sperone Westwater.

Scholarship on contemporary art has become boring—self-important, deeply esoteric, with ideas built on circular arguments. That should not come as a surprise. Art criticism is hollow because there is no “Big Bang” in art either. Except occasionally, of course. As is the case with the work of Wim Delvoye, currently at Sperone Westwater and on view until July 26.

Most of Delvoye’s work’s appeal stems from its shine, the intricacy of its construction, and its inviting luster. Delvoye’s sculpture, manifested in beautifully made luxurious objects, is inviting, luring, and deceiving. Contrary to mainstream expectations about art (it should be political, revolutionary, determined), Delvoye’s pieces offer the appeal that only beautiful objects possess. They catch the audience’s attention and hold it captive. For how long, one would ask? Well, that’s the thing with Delvoye’s work: time becomes irrelevant.

Delvoye, a Belgian artist, who is mostly known for his irreverent work of sexual acts performed by friends in front of X-ray machines and his tattooing of live China-based pigs to look like Louis Vuitton bags, is a friend of irony. Coupled with superb craftsmanship (as in state-of-the-art laser cut stainless steel), irony is what guides Delvoye in manipulating references to the gothic forms of the Cologne Cathedral to arrive at “Suppo (scale model 1:2),” a distorted image of something very familiar and mesmerizing that hangs from the gallery’s ceiling and hypnotizes the viewer to eternal delight.

A second piece on view, “Dual Möbius Quad Corpus,” depicts four Jesuses on one crucifix that seems to loop in perpetuity as the four shiny bodies twist to find each other and as, in the process, they reflect each other on their glistening surface of polished bronze.  The experience is overwhelming. Trapped in beauty, the viewer has no choice other than reflect on the recognized symbols that Delvoye uses to utter his provocative but also refined experience of a world that seems trapped between the superficiality of conservatism and the profoundness of breaking free.

To achieve this by manipulating materiality to a heightened refinement is what luxury is about. How ironic, Wim Delvoye.

© Thomaï Serdari