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Michel François

(Belgium) born in 1956, lives and works in Brussels

Letting go
Letting water spread in plaster and petrify
Letting vinegar dissolve marble
Letting ice cubes melt
Letting the rain make ravines
Letting soap shrink
Letting fire twist sheet metal
Letting the sea eat away wood
Letting melting bronze spread over the floor
Letting everything petrify in hard water
Letting your sweaters wear out at the elbows
Letting the sun insolate
Letting spiders weave their webs
Letting rolls of paper be rolled up on themselves
Letting hands caress sculptures
Letting the saw mark the cutting board`

With this poetic list, Michel François defines a certain number of the principles, materials and operations of the piece that he has devised for the Biennale, titled Scène des Abandons (2016) A platform brings together a selection of the artist’s works: existing works, works in progress, and numerous gestures made during the time taken to set up the installation. Since the late 1980s, when he started to exhibit, up to the present-day, François’s remarkably cohesive oeuvre has been forever wavering between production and inertia,
growth and decomposition, circulation, loss, and dissemination. All of his works stem from the at once physical and mental space of the studio, and take shape through the comings and goings between making and letting go, between will and chance, between the gesture, one of binding, erecting,
solidifying winding, and insisting, and the metamorphism of the materials, and their natural downward path towards fragmentation, melting, corrosion, and dispersal. The artist is forever questioning what art is or is not, and asserting a continuity between what happens prior to and after art, as François regards art as a moment, not as a static state. With Michel François, everything is fluid and liquid, everything is exchange and contamination, in a proliferating intermingling. It is these reflections, which are crystallized for La Scène des Abandons, on a theatre stage, that place of artifice if ever there was, where time becomes a spectacle, and gestures become a staged presentation.

Michel François has recently exhibited at the FRAC Ile-de-France (Château de Rentilly), at La Verrière (Fondation Hermès) in Brussels, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Villeurbanne, and at the Smak in Ghent; he has also directed a play at the Cité Internationale Theatre in Paris. He jointly directed the Louvain-La-Neuve Biennale in 2013, and organized the first exhibition at the Casa Wabi Foundation in Oaxaca, Mexico.