Friday, 8 February 2008

Heaven of Delight










The Hall of Mirrors, or the Congo Room as it was also known, in the Palace of Brussels was commissioned by King Leopold II.
He died before the room could be completed; leaving the ceiling unfinished. Under the patronage of HM Queen Paola of Belgium the ceiling was finaly completed in 2002. The first addition to the Palace since Rodin's reliefs in the 19th Century, is the work of Flemish artist Jan Fabre.

Heaven of Delight, an homage to one of Fabre's greatest inspirations - the 15th century gothic fantasy artist Hieronymous Bosch who produced The Garden of Earthly Delights - is a mosaic made up entirely of beetles. It took four months for 29 of Fabre's assistants to glue the gleaming shells of 1.6m jewel scarabs to the ceiling and four years to prepare the installation, which is permanent.

The beetles are not just glued randomly but are based on a detailed design by Fabre. Birds' wings, giraffes' legs and salamanders' eyes can all be discerned in the creation, as can the letter 'P' for Queen Paola who succumbed to years of lobbying and gave Fabre carte blanche. The use of beetles is no coincidence but strongly connected to Belgium's controversial colonial history.

It has been hailed in Belgian art circles as one of the most important works of the new century.

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Now playing: Beck - The Golden Age
via FoxyTunes

17 comments:

An Aesthete's Lament said...

I have been insane about this installation since I first saw it. It is the most gobsmacking thing on the planet, no? Such weird genius, and so alarmingly beautiful. It's almost predatory.

mamacita said...

What would I do without you, HOBAC? You've opened new worlds to me.

Be the change..... said...

Wow, thats so beautiful but gross at the same time! lol I saw the garden of earthly delights last year at the Prado -it was like trying to see the mona lisa - the crowd was about 10 people deep all day long!!! But it was worth it, I think I stood there for 45 minutes absorbing it all. So incredibly amazing!

Pigtown-Design said...

Well thaaaat's intersting...

btw, anan linked your post below on decorno's comments.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

Al - there is almost something visceral about it. I think it is pure genius.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

mamacita - that is a great compliment, thank you.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

BTC -Oooh, I would love to see that in person, but I could not bear the crowds.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

fairfax - In our next house, I am determined to do something like this.

Thanks for the gen. Whether by design or chance, that is clever and funny. Though, I doubt WW would use such language and the tattoos might pose a bit of a problem...
Ahhhaaa!

Easy and Elegant Life said...

While I do confess to being somewhat bewildered by most of today's art, I do find this shocking

-ly beautiful.

The article on the Belgian Congo was a bit tough to take. If this is a comment on the colonial past, beetles are to be preferred to an installation along the lines of Leon Rom's garden of delights. Man's triumph over (his own) nature?

Thanks for another thought provoking post.

katiedid said...

This is amazing. The color! Do these beetle shells last indefinitely? I suppose they must! They almost look like they are still allive and swarming.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

KD - that is probably what most find so disconcerting. They do last indefinitely - we have a Victorian collection of them from 1858 and they are still dazzling.

franki durbin said...

wow. what a feast for the yes. I love that spaces like this are so visually overwhelming. it takes a certain boldness to not only envision such opulence, but dare to execute the design. absolutely mind blowing.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

So glad you like it Frankie!

Cote de Texas said...

I don't think I ever realized that beetles are green? unbelievable - this is awe inspiring!!

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

CdT - isn't it wonderful. They come in all sorts of beautiful colours and patterns.

{this is glamorous} said...

Really incredible, and that was before I read the part about the beetles. Stunning. (And I agree with Elegant, a little shocking.)

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

TiG - I'm so glad you found it interesting.