For over thirty years now, Paul van Hoeydonck has been fascinated by mannequins. Modern researchers use them to test new possibilities, in the car manufacturing industry, aviation and space travel. Van Hoeydonck puts them to the test in the artistic field. “16 x Icarus” is made up of sixteen characters that hang from the ceiling. They are distributed at different heights in a sort of planetarium arrangement. The artist wanted
to give them the rigidity of mannequins. Bodies, arms and legs have different positions, but they all unmistakably evoke forward movement and the force of a current that sucks them towards the concentration of planets, beckoning like a new, unknown world full of light and enchantment.
With limited means, Paul van Hoeydonck has thus managed to animate a large surface in a very impressive manner. The work of art really stirs the emotions and captures the imagination.
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PAUL VAN HOEYDONCK (Antwerpen, 1925)
He studied at the Kunsthistorisch Instituut (Art history institute) in Antwerp and mostly concentrated
on the presence of human beings in space. In the second half of the 1950s, when his compositions were not yet figurative, his many experiments mostly concerned light, movement and space. He even made use of a moveable lamp so that each observer could activate the results of the incidence of light for himself or herself. He then introduced planets and constellations into his work. In 1971 the Apollo 15 astronauts placed his statuette “Fallen Astronaut” on the moon!
The artist confronts the observer with people who seem to understand the cosmos and outer space, but also with “spacemen” who tumble out of the sky like fallen angels, with astronauts who become machine people,
Icarusses who fall into the abyss, robots that look like people, but also with all sorts of intermediary
characters: a person made of muscles, nerves, veins and brains which are part machine, part motor, part computer.