Bram de Jonghe

spirit level, magnet, glass

Bram De Jonghe’s work is hard to define in terms of medium. He often intervenes in such a radical way in an existing space that the entire setting becomes the work. Take for example the show in which he recently exhibited at Amsterdam’s P/////AKT gallery, where he suspended a wall in the middle of the room resting on an old washing machine. Visitors squeezed past the tight corners of the distorted space that looks like workshop of a neurotic inventor a la Doc from the Back to the Future-films. Wandering along niches and corners, visitors encounter all kinds of creations: video observations of things that turn, shift, spout and shoot; rotating light installations and other kinetic sculptures; elegant technical drawings and imaginary machines.

Some of his contraptions actually work, they look serious and functional yet they serve no immediate use or purpose. His work radiates a certain poetic optimism, a romantic belief in progress reminiscent of the modernism of the early twentieth century. An aesthetic appreciation of the technology of machines that reveal on the outside exactly how they work inside, and yet still retain a magical effect. The beauty of the scientific balance in which everything can be explained, measured and rationalised. This propensity for balance is also evident in the work that De Jonghe developed for G&S Vastgoed and ICON. The levitating spirit compass is a kind of metaphor of the equilibrium that exists in every situation, in each project or building. In G&S Vastgoed and ICON’s case, the spirit compass expresses the desire to restore the balance of supply and demand in a responsible manner. The spirit compass provides an almost hypnotic instance of clarity in which the impossible seems momentarily possible.

Bram De Jonghe (b. 1985, Oostende) lives and works in The Hague. De Jonghe studied at St Lucas College in Ghent. In 2015, he won the Volkskrant Beeldende Kunst Prize.