Studio Job - Alter Ego at Castle of Gaasbeek
Style bible Wallpaper crowned them 'Artists of the year’, they were included in the international top most influential designers by Time Magazine; their collection Home Work features among The Financial Times’ ten most successful collections worldwide and their work has been shown and sought after by collectors around the globe (New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan …). Who are we talking about? Studio Job of course. The combo of Dutch born Job Smeets (1970) and Belgian born Nynke Tynagel (1977) are hotter as hell in the design world. Last Saturday, the dynamic duo opened an enchanted spring exhibition called Alter Ego in the beautiful Castle of Gaasbeek. I Love Belgium checked it and was very enchanté.
As soon as the castle’s last inhabitant marquise Arconati Visconti arrived at Gaasbeek Castle, she would change identities. Here, she imagined herself to be a medieval page and often had her portrait painted while posing in page fancy dress. Together with the countless objects she collected, the dream castle, restored by her in neo-style, served as a décor and context for her ‘alter ego’.
Today, Studio Job create ‘alter ego’s: sculptures inspired by icons from Northern European (art)history, but with a contemporary twist. Studio Job has one leg in the dark ages. Discontent with modernism, they return to the pre-industrial era. They call themselves ‘design criminals’ and oppose all that Modernism stands for, challenge the school that teaches that functionality is king and ornament evil or superficial. Consequently, their art works boast intense theatrical quality. They experiment with lost techniques and materials and deliberately distance themselves from the dictatorial numbers game by producing unique pieces or very limited editions.
Job and Nynke find their inspiration in castles and cathedrals. They describe their entire oeuvre as a huge three-dimensional diary: each piece of art has a place in a collection that forms part of a larger whole, in other words, a work in progress. In their own ‘Universe’ or ‘Wonder and Horror Land’, a castle (as the metaphor of an imaginary society) was given the leading role. That is why Gaasbeek Castle is the perfect choice location for this exhibition. Older and more recent works enter into a dialogue with the historicising castle decors, and interact with each other to produce surprising, fresh confrontations.