De gevallen verwittiging [The Fallen Warning]

Geys  jef  de gevallen verwittiging  1985  foto heirman  graphics

Jef Geys

1985

Installation, 400 x 700 x 200 cm.
Materials: steel, pigment powder

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp / Collection Flemish Community (Inv. no. BK5206_M19).

"Meneh, meneh, tishqol vetikhalaq" 

'Beware, beware, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.'

(Hebrew citation from the Old Testament, Book of Daniel)

This text refers to the story of the fall of Babylonian King Belshazzar. During a feast to celebrate his siege of Jerusalem and the plundering of the Temple, a prophetic writing appears on the wall, stating that his days, and those of his kingdom, are numbered. “You have been weighed (in God’s scales) and found wanting.” A mysterious hand wrote the words on the palace wall, and only Daniel can read (interpret) them. The king is slain that very night; Daniel is subsequently elevated when Darius takes over the kingdom.

The Fallen Warning by Belgian artist Jef Geys, at first sight might appear decorative and aesthetic with its Hebrew letters and pastel colors, but its underlying meaning collides with our complacency. The aesthetic ‘packaging’ is a fundamental part of the loaded content: the aesthetic is a sort of camouflage, with which Geys denounces the pretension and lack of content ('camouflage') in the art world. The Biblical warning may be taken as a metaphor for the commercialized art world, or perhaps it refers to the relativity of power. The letters have fallen from the wall, sunk under their own weight; what remains is but a print.

In his oeuvre, Jef Geys is always settling scores with The Establishment. His weapon of choice is his own critical, though rather playful, vision. His work comprises so many diverse art forms and materials, that it is impossible to characterize him under any single heading. Most important for him is getting his message across, and he chooses the form he feels most fitting to the task. Geys wants us to reflect on just what is it that we call ‘art’. Here, a synthesis between life and art serves as the basis. Since the 1960s, Geys has confronted the art circuit with its inherent shortcomings.

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