Last year, the WIELS exhibition ‘The Absent Museum’ was a highly-regarded show that marked the institution’s 10th anniversary. The current show ‘Unexchangeable’, like that show, draws on the fact that the institution has no permanent collection. ‘Unexchangeable’ brings together 73 notable artworks on loan from private collections across Belgium. Mostly, the works are from the late 1980s or early 1990s, and feature a number of canonical, well-known artists including Walter Swennen, Paul Thek, Louise Lawler and many more. Before you think you’ve seen these works before: what’s remarkable about this show is the fact that a number of works on view do not adhere to the trademark styles often associated with these artists, nodding to the idiosyncrasy of collecting practices, and shedding light on the diversity of these artists’ careers. Lawler’s remarkable, vibrant photograph Every Other Picture (1990), contains a picture-in-a-picture. There are early fruit reliefs by Jef Geys and a string of unusually expressive works by David Hammons. Some pieces, such as Angel Vergara’s ‘Bar d’en Face’ from 1994 is a time capsule image that relates to Brussels itself. Guillaume Bijl’s work is another highlight of eeriness: a plinth of dismembered faces, stacked one atop another.
- Pablo Larios