The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp has invited visual artist Jan Vanriet to design a grand itinerary through the galleries of the Old and the Modern Masters.
For the Closing Time exhibition, Jan Vanriet (°1948, Antwerp) has selected no fewer than 175 works from his thematic series of the past twenty years. He presents these works in combination with 150 thematically or stylistically related pieces from the museum collection. Vanriet does not only confront his work with masterpieces that are permanently on display in the museum galleries, but also with never-displayed treasures from the reserve.
To make this exhibition possible, almost all of the rooms in the museum have been rearranged. Most of the collection pieces on display are not shown in their usual location, but in a different room, with different dimensions, proportions and lighting. The chronological order of the collection has been abandoned. Instead, Vanriet combines pieces for thematic or stylistic reasons, on the basis of colour, motif, design, etc. This way, the paintings enter into a dialogue, a mutually enhancing confrontation, so that all the works featured in the show – be they from the museum collection or by Jan Vanriet – assume new and multiple meanings. It is up to the visitor to explore the relationships, affinities and tensions within the ensembles of paintings.
Closing Time is an exhibition in twenty chapters. The names of the various rooms are mostly borrowed from titles of previous painting series or exhibitions by Vanriet. His familiar themes of parents and relatives, politics and war, ideology and downfall are combined here into a new, encompassing narrative, an absorbing contemporary account of the complexity of human existence and of human failing. Old Masters suddenly become strikingly topical, and Vanriet becomes part of an age-old tradition. Each room in the exhibition is thematically constructed around one or several key works of art, resulting in an engaging encounter of image and narrative. The final room is a cabinet of drawings by Jan Vanriet accompanied by some documentary photographs by Herman Selleslags.
Closing Time is the final exhibition before the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) closes for renovation.