Nathalie Vanheule is a Belgian contemporary artist whose multimedia work encompasses performance, sculptures, and video installations. She was born on March 10th, 1980 in Ypres, or the “city of death”, as it served as Belgian’s frontline for two World Wars. This premature experience with death and devastation has played a significant thematic role in Vanheule’s work. Vanheule received her master’s degree in graphic design in 2002 and 3D Design in 2004 from Sint-Lucas Ghent in Belgium. In 2015, she was asked twice to curate for Belgium museums and presented “Burning Book Performance”, a creative book created along with other graphic designers that featured different burned book covers, at La Libraire de Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Berlinische Galerie in Berlin.
Her most recent Artist-in-Residence was “La Generale en Manufacture” in Paris (2009-2010). Many of her works have been displayed internationally at museums such as the National Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent (2004), Pulse Show New York (2008), and MUHKA Museum of Fine and Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2015).
Vanheule’s work demonstrates a powerful collision of forces that make permanent the momentary interactions between different textures and means. The collisions create a layering effect that, instead of masking, far more reveals what is underneath. The layering plays with notions of revealing, suppressing and hiding, especially when taking into account that the work is displayed in highly public settings.
The dramatic interactions reveal raw vulnerability and emotions in the midst of destruction and chaos. Illusions are unmasked in the Belgian artist’s work, but still play on fantasy and reality through the dream-like otherworldliness evoked from the variance of opacities she uses. There is a perverse sense of ideal beauty, in its imperfect perfection, that permeates many of her works’ highly fragmented and dark, gothic world.
Text by Perwana Nazif
Courtesy of the Artist