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Herbert De Colle: EMOTION

04.06.2024 to 18.08.2024 - MQ ART BOX
Host: MQ Art Box

Herbert De Colle: EMOTION


Herbert De Colle

04.06. – 18.08.2024
MQ Art Box

In his artistic practice, Herbert De Colle draws on signs, codes, and concepts from pop culture and subcultures that have inscribed themselves in recent cultural history. Such symbols, images, and words are closely connected to certain scenes, outlooks, and attitudes, to generally accepted and individual values, to desires and clichés. De Colle stages “PEACE,” “LOVE” or “NEON” as word pictures, objects, or sculptures, heightening their impact by removing them from any explicit context. In his apt description, Martin Fritz writes: “Herbert De Colle moves with grace through worlds of signs and images of recent decades, but never with nostalgia—at most with a carefully considered dose of longing, familiar to all who could only follow the romanticized peaks of recent pop and youth cultural history from a temporal and geographical distance. As an artist born in 1978, De Colle has images, styles, and references at his disposal that were already historical when he discovered them for himself.”
The artist works mainly with paper, crafting it by hand in a time-consuming process, for example, when he cuts posters into filigree strips that then undulate in the frame.
For the MQ Art Box, Herbert De Colle has installed a site-specific variation of his ongoing series EMOTION, which began in 2018. A circle, two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth—the smiley, designed in 1963 by graphic designer Harvey Hall, is one of the best known and most iconic symbols of pop culture and is the visual reference for this work. The cultural significance of the smiley icon spans generations and continents. Originally developed as a simple graphic element for an internal company campaign, the smiley attained far-reaching popularity and became a universal symbol of joy, satisfaction, and positivity. Beyond this, over time the smiley has undergone a variety of applications and interpretations in different subcultures and movements.
De Colle’s smileys are hand made out of papier mâché, each with a diameter of 130 cm, and are a soft, pastel, minty green color. Seventy of these smileys have been hung in the MQ Art Box using transparent cord and so resemble a cloud formation that seems to sway in the glass art space. Although at first glance the smileys appear identical, on closer inspection they display an astonishing range of expressions, a nuanced mimicry, which we attempt to interpret—the facial expression as a liminal space between inner experience and the outer world, as a mask, as a non-verbal means of communication. Looking out at us are amazed, skeptical, surprised, reserved, disappointed, shocked, and expectant faces. Only rarely is there the hint of a smile. “Everything is a projection,” a quote attributed to Swiss psychiatrist and analyst Carl Gustav Jung, comes to mind.
The soft color scheme, the choice of material, and the craftsmanship underscore the subtlety and fragility inherent in the papier mâché smileys. And yet as a group, they fill the space, are present and powerful; they are an interpretation of EMOTION.

Curated by: Verena Kaspar-Eisert, Chief Curator MQ

Herbert De Colle, born in 1978 in Austria, studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Numerous exhibitions in Austria and abroad, including Ve.Sch Kunstverein, Vienna, Horse & Pony Fine Arts, Berlin, Kunstraum am Schauplatz, Vienna, Galerie 5020, Salzburg, Kunstforum Montafon, Blackbridge Offspace, Beijing, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Belvedere 21, Vienna. De Colle lives and works in Vienna.

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