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Gallery FIFTY ONE : Katrien De Blauwer : He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not


Gallery FIFTY ONE presents the fourth solo exhibition of Belgian artist Katrien De Blauwer (Ronse, 1969). For ‘He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not’, De Blauwer sought an intriguing correspondence between old and new works. The result sketches a tender portrait of the past and invites the viewer to indulge in nostalgic longing.

The extensive archive of notebooks and photomontages, created by De Blauwer since her studies at the Antwerp Fashion Academy, forms the starting point for this exhibition. These are collected image- and text fragments from vintage magazines, books, and newspapers, which, just like a photographer, she cuts and reframes into organic and random compositions. Guided by her own emotions, she intuitively glues, assembles, creases, and folds the fragments together with other visual material to create expressive and refined works. This creative cleaving into reality, supported by the resilience of chance and the power of choice, results in anonymous image fragments that are far removed from their original meaning. Like shadows of their former selves, they are universal and recognisable, yet at the same time, autobiographically charged with the emotions and memories of the artist.

The disarming playfulness of the moment, captured in images, creates an authentic ensemble where the artist engages in a dialogue with film editing. References to film noir and the way disjointed images from different contexts are brought together as a fragmented spectacle of her intimate world form a narrative whole, making her visual language distinctive and mysterious. Bathed in a nouvelle vague- like atmosphere, De Blauwer depicts a quiet universe where female protagonists shape the scenario. Their emotionality and physicality take center stage, occasionally interacting with a male character.

In ‘He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not,’ De Blauwer commemorates and restores a part of her youth. The unexpected passing of both her parents represented a significant loss but also sparked a deep longing to pause and look back at the past. It inspired the artist to confront her old photomontages, which are of a smaller format, with new creations. In the exhibition space, the old and the new work speak to the viewer as a united duality. The young women in De Blauwer’s montages seek solace in touches, beauty, and the tranquility and infinity of nature. In addition to the warm colours and dreamy atmosphere, her characters also inhabit a world of vulnerability, loneliness, sorrow, and mourning. The sweet taste of love with a bitter awareness of the past and finiteness. The visual representations are surrounded by De Blauwer’s memorabilia such as polaroids from her childhood, old postcards, as well as a few personal objects. Their interplay is meaningful and laden with symbolic references. The whole, an associative fabric of narrative scenes and personal items, projects the artist’s personal childhood memories.

“The exhibition is an invitation to vulnerability. I want to evoke the longing for memories. If that succeeds, it would mean a lot to me.”
— Katrien De Blauwer

From De Blauwer’s fragmented poetics, both the desire to fully remember lost loved ones and the incapacity to do so are evident. By evoking new narratives, incorporating references from visual arts, film, and literature, the artist ensures that her memory endures.


Katrien De Blauwer : He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not
5th December 2023 – 27th January 2024
Zirkstraat 20
2000 Antwerpen, Belgium

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