Michel François

Michel François

  • Brussels, Belgium
Artpace Exhibitions

About Michel François

Through videos, photographs, books, and installations Michel François breathes new life into materials and spaces, as well as the act of creating and looking at art. François transforms otherwise static, white galleries into theatrical settings where holes appear in unexpected places and everyday items, purchased or scavenged, are poignantly juxtaposed.

François’ installations creep around doorways and through walls, mirroring the idea of the rhizome—a non-hierarchical, fluid way of operating theorized by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. As opposed to a vertical structure, such as a tree, a rhizome spreads laterally and diffusely, like a nettle. It has no top, no center, no culminating point. A rhizomatic structure is a series of interconnected nodes, and while some may be larger than others, none is ultimately most important. Like a rhizome, the distinct parts of François’ installations ebb and flow, receding and advancing to create entities that are in flux but nonetheless recognizable.

Revitalizing the familiar, François investigates the tension between public and private, and art and non-art. Stage lights, newspapers, plants, and tobacco reappear in various installations—at times becoming more or less important. For The Plant in Ourselves (2001) François pried into the history of a Nazi-era museum by exposing original marble and old walls. Lights shone on original details. A stately cactus brought organic matter into the art space. Visitors were given clay with which to mark up a room. In this installation, as in others, François refashioned the ordinary into the extraordinary. His amorphous, sculptural creation wavered between clarity and mystery—between explicit politics and beautification of the space.

Born and based in Brussels, Belgium in 1956, Michel François spends time in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he teaches at the Rijksakademie. Recent solo exhibitions include the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Munich, Germany (2003); the Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France (2002); the Fundació Miró, Barcelona, Spain (2001); the Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2001); the Kunstahalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland (2000), and the 48th Venice Biennale, Italy (1999).