Galerie Templon Has Given Artist Jan Fabre Carte Blanche to Inaugurate its New Paris Gallery

The resulting two-part show blends sexual and religious symbols.

Jan Fabre, Le Bluff de la Vierge Marie belge (2018).Photo Pat Verbrueggen. ©Angelos bvba. Courtesy Galerie Templon.

Last October, art dealer Daniel Templon invited the Belgian artist Jan Fabre to tour a rough, unfinished space in Paris that was to become the third branch of Galerie Templon. He wanted Fabre to inaugurate the gallery with a show of new works, and he offered him carte blanche to do it.

Fabre couldn’t say no. He spent six months on a body of work that employs the iconography of organized religion and pays tribute to the artist’s home country. that is now being shown in a two-part exhibition, “Sexual Belgian Folklore (2017-2018)” and “Sexual Belgian North Sea (2018),” up through July 21.

Installation view of “Jan Fabre: Sexual Belgian Folklore (2017-2018)” and “Sexual Belgian North Sea (2018).” Courtesy Galerie Templon.

“Jan wanted to celebrate the connection between France and Belgium, his native country,” says Anne-Claudie Coric, the gallery’s executive director. “The exhibition is thus a playful exploration of what he calls the ‘Belgian subconscious.’ In a way it’s also a reflection on Europe, the idea of nationhood and the relationship between politics and culture.”

Both parts of the show are composed of a series of drawings and sculptures. In total, there are some 50 colored-pencil drawings done in the style of pictures found in illuminated manuscripts. Each is mounted in a golden frame with a red velvet mat.

Jan Fabre, The Chickens Being Fed (2017). Photo: Pat Verbrueggen. ©Angelos bvba. Courtesy of Galerie Templon.

Fabre’s sculptures are made from objects that once belonged to Belgian churches, which Fabre procured from estate sales. However, while they were sourced from houses of worship, the objects have been altered with Fabre’s signature wit. L’arbre de vie du carnaval belge (2018), for instance, is a gilded cross covered in party hats and penises. In Coquillages belges au garde à vous (noir, jaune, rouge) (2018), a penis emerges from a trio of fabric-covered seashells

Jan Fabre, L’arbre de vie du carnaval belge (2018). Photo: Pat Verbrueggen. ©Angelos bvba. Courtesy of Galerie Templon.

The Paris expansion has been a long time coming. Templon, who runs a second gallery in Paris and another in Brussels, had been seeking this growth for more than 10 years, but was waiting for “the ideal way to expand,” says Coric. “Expansion is not an end in itself. It needs to serve a purpose, an identity. We seek to promote a gallery model where the local audience is key, where exhibitions and the experiments of artists remain at the core of the experience.”

Fabre felt like the perfect artist to lead this new phase in the gallery’s life. “We have been working with Jan since 2000 and have accompanied him in the development of his career as a visual artist,” says Coric. “It was logical to think of him to demonstrate how we conceive the role of the gallery today: an agent, a producer, a companion, a spokesman.”

Jan Fabre. Photo: Carlotta Manaigo.

Jan Fabre: Sexual Belgian Folklore (2017-2018)” and “Sexual Belgian North Sea (2018)” are on view through July 21, 2018 at Galerie Templon in Paris.

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