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Pretty Ugly: The Deconstruction of Beauty

11 December  2021

Participating artists:

Ana Cvorovic - Cloe Nicosia - Feryel Atek - Ilke Cop - Ingrid Baars - Lazarus Lazare - Lisa Lapiere/Nour Beetch - Mathias Vef - Mathieu V. Staelens - Nathan French - Nina Van Denbempt 

Performance by:

Tales Frey

The group show seeks to break with the patriarchal paradigms of beauty. We invite you to leave behind this representation where people are reduced to physical objects.

Let us admire beauty beyond race and gender.

We present a selection of artists, who deconstruct and reconstruct along new lines. Beauty must be felt as it is: diverse and boundless.

Through portraits, self-portraits, sculptures and drawings of twelve artists from eight different countries, all expressing their conception of the chosen theme.


Ana Cvorovic

Every thing carries a story, a journey. Production to consumption, to rejection, to detritus. In ‘Sweetie Ragweed’ this cycle reverses itself. A topsy-turvy slice of landscape migrating from debris to bloom, lycra to pollen, mechanics to home (and back again); a rolling game of hoarding, assembling, stacking, agglomerating. A light and delicate mass, a nip and a tuck, an alien cluster, a cocktail of sorts. This specimen is foreign, non-native, external and distant. But look! It’s beaming with a familiar glow.

Text by Raquel Figueira.


Chloé Nicosia

To live like a woman is “Living the ever present possibi- lity that one will be gazed upon as a mere body, as form and flesh that presents itself as the potential object of another subject’s intentions and manipulations” (Iris Marion Young). The bodies of individuals who identify as women become a social and societal issue. Though the female body is mistreated, subjected to aesthetic, sexual or reproductive standards and is freely exploited or regulated, it is also the source of its emancipation.

The breasts are here to create a “safe space" and to re-appropriate the physical space by the “feminine,” whatever that may be. This landscape is diverse and colorful. It is marked with layers of women through the ages, like a topography of a struggling, moving and ever-changing terrain.



Feryel Atek

The role of the artist is to deconstruct standards of the established aesthetic codes, to transcend beauty criteria, to create new spaces for the collective to exist freely and beyond the frame of society.

To me beauty is actually immaterial, it is not a concept, it is an experience. I experience moments of beauty, my way.

In “Momentum” the figures exist without a delimited gender, time, and space.

It is an attempt to transcend a moment of beauty, somewhere between vulnerability and strength. Somewhere between vulgarity and beauty.



Ilke Cop

Beauty. An opium to the mind, a tool for manipulation, a lullaby for the meek ? Or can beauty be a trigger for activism, rebellion and change ? Can it free us from ourselves ? On View, two oil paintings with traditional technique, aims to shake up the ideal way of viewing the female and invites the viewer to interact with its performance.This work talks about the expectations of society, the gap between the staged version of yourself - the performance- and the real you. Can you still feel the difference ?


Ingrid Baars

The image of the ‘Black Madonna’ takes pride of place, as much inspired by the situation of African American women as by a historical phenomena especially in medieval France; an ancient concept of nature, fertility, motherhood, protection, creation.


Lazarus Lazare

I draw bodies that open up like windows onto bunches of burning garrigue, full of cistus, sperm and salt. I imagine pornographic and botanical world populated by characters who mingle in the margins of cities where vegetation abounds, free territories where we exhibit ourselfs to become one with the landscape


Lisa Lapierre and Nour Beetch

A journey to the dissenting fringes, a laboratory of eroticism, rebellion and disobedience through a subversion of norms and the exploration of radical emotions. In an aesthetic of violence, the body here embodies a new resistance to the limit of gender. For the artists, it is a kind of contagious catharsis that unfolds in their creation, a response to cistemic constraints and to its aggressiveness.

Hybrid, disproportionate, the multiple identity staged transgresses the very idea of fantasy, like an infection, trash, vulgar, too much in order to make the deviance shine. If in this system we are disturbing, in our queer universes, we come to take back our place, by embodying your terror, igniting our monstrosities, with incandescence and a smile beyond measure. They set up trouble, through a violent, sexual kink, beyond gender and borders. With this extravagant dream mixing cyborg, dragfreak and glitter core, they explode the taboos in which they grew up.


Mathias Vef

Molded and fluid bodies from ballet dancers, bodybuilders and trans people digitally hacked and re-sampled, pigments of portraits of sexworkers chemically distorted by the drug and dissolvent GHB/ GBL. Porn, pharmaceutical molecules and artificial intelligence inbreed to a psychedelic utopian state against the natural.


Mathieu V. Staelens

Drawing inspiration from a figurative tradition deve- loped by artists like Félicien Rops, Paul Delvaux and James Ensor, he proposes the skeleton as the sole and only remaining body of innocent sensual and aesthetic pleasure, insofar as the individual body must be literally stripped of all of its disruptive moral and political layers in order to be aesthetically appealing.



Nathan french

French’s work explores textures, colours and the interaction on the representation of the human body. Textures are obtained by different layers of materials with an exploration of Colour, his work a tribute to diversity.


Nina Van denbempt

Van denbempt strives for self acceptance by investigating shame, personal memories, internalized sexism and the pressure of having a (female) body. Follow her in the search for sexual self acceptance, transformation and an attempt to embrace our imperfect lives, our imperfect beautiful bodies in this present moment. A call to show ourselves in order to break free.


Tales Frey

Red Carpet consists of a single vesture to be used by two people at the same time imposing the sculptural condition for those who share the time of 3 hours in the same exhibition space.

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