Musician Nick Cave Will Debut His New, Devilish Ceramics at a Brussels Show in 2024

The exhibition at Xavier Hufkens features the Bad Seeds frontman's first major body of visual work.

Nick Cave, Devil Bleeds to Death (2020–22). Courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Musician and artist Nick Cave will have his debut commercial exhibition at Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels in 2024. Cave has called the work going on display as “a journey towards some kind of absolution from a series of shattering events.”

Cave was born in Australia in 1957 and has achieved worldwide recognition as a singer, songwriter, author, and composer. He studied painting at Melbourne’s Caulfield Institute of Technology before turning his attention to a musical career that has seen him lead bands including The Birthday Party and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since the late ’70s. In recent years, Cave has released a memoir Faith, Hope and Carnage, and has been exploring ceramics as a medium.

The show will open in April 2024 and presents Cave’s first major body of visual work, entitled “The Devil—A Life (2020–22).” The collection is made up of 17 glazed ceramic figurines following the cradle-to-grave story of the Devil. Stylistically, the sculptures are reminiscent of Victorian Staffordshire “flatback” figurines which were made from the mid-18th century and were popular for display on mantlepieces.

Nick Cave, Photo by Megan Cullen, Courtesy of the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Nick Cave. Photo by Megan Cullen, courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Cave’s ceramic works were first shown in Finland in September 2022 at the Sara Hildén Art Museum as part of the group exhibition “We,” which also included works by actor Brad Pitt and artist Thomas Houseago.

In this new series, Cave frames the character of the Devil as a complex, flawed, everyday character. Told through the series of ceramic figurines, we watch as the Devil is born, inherits the world, falls in love, fights a lion, rides off to war, and is shunned for causing the death of his child, before he himself dies. This arc is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” from the 1623 comedy As You Like It: infant, schoolchild, lover, soldier, judge, dotage and decrepitude. As major changes occur in the Devil’s life, his appearance is altered, particularly the shape of his horns.

Nick Cave, Devil As Child (2020-22). Courtesy of the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Nick Cave, Devil As Child (2020–22). Courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Cave has long held an intense, if conflicted, interest in Christianity: “I believe in God in spite of religion, not because of it,” he said in 2010. Over the years, themes related to faith and the Devil have popped up in his songs (“Up Jumped the Devil,” “Jesus Alone“), just as they were woven into his first novel, 1989’s And the Ass Saw the Angel.

In a statement, he characterized the ceramic series headed to Brussels next year, along with his songs, as centered on “the idea of forgiveness, the idea that there is a moral virtue in beauty. It’s a kind of balancing of our sins.”

“The Devil—A Life (2020–22)” is on view at Xavier Hufkens, 6-8, Sint-Jorisstraat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, April 5 through May 11, 2024.


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