Persona August, 10th 2023 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 427 - Warre Mulder

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 427 – Warre Mulder
In gallery Fleur & Wouter I saw the exhibition Sources of wonder with work by Warre Mulder, Dodi Espinoza, Sharon van Overmeiren, Carmen Schabracq and Saar Scheerlings. The artists have a lot in common, they interpret age-old myths and stories into a new story, appropriate to our time. It is an impressive presentation that can easily be placed in a museum.
We have spoken series with various artists (see elsewhere on this site), not yet with Warre Mulder. He is happy to provide some explanation about the sculptures in this exhibition and about his work in general.

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Cerberus, the hellhound
Warre Mulder was born in Borgerhout, Belgium, (1984) and currently works and lives in both Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and Antwerp. He makes sculptures of wood, acrylic resin and other materials from stories from (art) history that are centuries old – often coming from the Greco-Roman world. He mixes them with contemporary myths and stories.

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You can see Cerberus, the hellhound. Never the Same Morning is the name of the work. Cerberus helps Hades, the god of the underworld, guard the entrance to the realm of the dead. He has three heads and a rolled-up document in his mouth. Warre: “The dog looks good, innocent. He looks familiar, ‘the dog that faithfully brings the newspaper to its owner’. But it could also be an ominous message written on that document. It has three heads, which refers to the Roman tripartite division of life into youth, adolescence and old age, corresponding to the division of the day into morning, afternoon and evening. It is a constant rehearsal and the dog is repetitive in this sense as well. “

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Neptune, the sea god, can be seen water skiing on two fish. There Will Be New Gods is the title. They are big dangerous fish. “Inspired by the sea monsters you can see on old maps. The mapmakers at the time depicted the fear of the unknown by drawing monstrous animals. Neptune tries to maintain control, but the fish dart forward, both in different directions. Will he keep it? The water and the province of Zeeland also play in the background, a continuous battle. There is always the threat of areas becoming flooded. The same goes for the future.”

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The gumball machine
In a recent work, Reversed history machine (the Gumball Machine), he discussed the forerunner of coins, the cowrie shells. The gumball machine is filled with shells. For 10 euros people can turn the machine and try to get cowry shells out. The 10 euros will then go to a good cause. “You can see it as an anti-capitalist transaction. The cowrie shells acted as an amulet for fertility in Asia, but then became a means of payment.

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When the Dutch East India Company (VOC) conquered areas in Asia from the Portuguese in the seventeenth century, the cash cowries were also traded by them. Fishermen from the Maldives collected the shells and sold them to the VOC branches in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). With the bought cowries, slaves could then be bought in West Africa. An estimated 550,000 people were traded by Dutch slave traders. The shells were also a medium of exchange in the Kongo Kingdom. Since the value of shell money in West Africa was much greater than in the regions where the shells came from, the trade in money cowries was very lucrative. Sometimes a 500 percent profit was achieved.”But sometimes the theme at Warre is also timeless. See the birds on a branch of flowers in A World That Only Wants to Talk II.

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Where does this historical interest come from?
“Throughout (art) history I see – in the whole world – things recur, with which I feel kinship and recognize myself. There appears to be a greater human culture that transcends boundaries. I myself grew up in Borgerhout-Antwerp in the middle of different cultures. I didn’t know what my culture was. In my work I look back on the past and on other cultures, in this way I want to reinvent what makes us human.”

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Does Warre have a key work?
He has. He calls Ride the beast of mankind, from 2018. “It is a beast, but there is something human about him. He stands on his hands and his knees. And then the work If times are strange and thing are compelled to be rearranged … Transformer must change with his version of the Transformer, which we know from the Transformer films. He also mentions a floating sculpture that could be seen last year in Middelburg and now in Poperinge / Belgium, Stowaway, Nehalennia’s dog, In Situ sculpture for Façade. A dog sleeps on a large rubber-like truck tire, apples lie in the tire, while a dragon keeps an eye on things on a stick with a t-shirt. “In the Zeeuws Museum I had seen the altars of the native goddess Nehalennia that had surfaced at Domburg and Colijnsplaat. As a patron saint in Roman times, she was often depicted with a basket of fruit on her lap and a dog at her feet.”

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But Warre also has a key period.
“15 years ago, in 2008, I graduated from the St. Lucas Academy in Antwerp. I then went to work energetically, but made slightly different work than I do now. I had several exhibitions. But after five years the candle went out, I fell into a kind of black hole. I had lost the joy of making art. After a few months I spoke to a friend who advised me: ‘Go back, go have fun again’. I made a small sculpture. Very playful. I quickly started enjoying it. I made a whole series of works in which I combined different materials and surprised myself. That became the basis of the work of the past ten years.”
What is his experience of art life?
“It’s a nice life, but it’s not always easy. I come from an artsy family. My parents are Dutch, they met at the Academy of Amersfoort. At the end of the 1970s they moved to Antwerp. My mother makes decors and props, my father makes abstract sculptures of metal and found materials. They made all sorts of things in their studio; as a child I watched curiously and also started making things.”

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Finally, what is his philosophy?
“I connect past and present and give it a form that is appropriate for this time. I do that in the exhibition in Amsterdam with four colleagues who also do it very beautifully and fascinatingly. So keep an eye on the shows of this gallery!
1) There will be new gods 4, 2) we are all children of the unconcious, 3) Blowing dust of project chaos 2, 4) 2)When times are strange and things are compelled to be rearranged…transformer must change, 5) never the same morning, 6) a world that only wants to talk, 7) portrait photo Warre Mulder, 8) Even in your pajamas nature can come to take its share, 9) Ride the beast of mankind, 10) stowaway, nehalennia’s dog, 11) the gumball machine close-up 

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