Michaël Borremans - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    ZenoX Gallery, Antwerp
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2002

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘The actions are often senseless. But the work switches between an aspect of the absurd and a romantic connotation, like a vanitas. That the human being is a victim of his situation and is not free is a conviction of mine’ - Michaël Borremans.

    Michaël Borremans creates haunting and cinematic painterly worlds which oscillate between mundane quotidian realities and uncanny fantasies. The Gap, executed in 2001, was painted in the years following Borremans' move from his established career as an engraver to embark on his exploration of the medium of paint. Continuing a painterly dialogue with Diego Velázquez and Édouard Manet, Borremans reduces his use of tone to an almost monochrome colour palette in the present work, rendering the figure with marble-like skin. Staged in an ambiguous black void, we are given a partial view of the figure’s face as he averts our gaze. This construction of a physical and psychological isolation is all the more heightened as the extreme cropping creates a contradictory sense of proximity.

    In the present work, the central unknown figure stares intensely at a sheet of paper, completely engrossed in the object in front of him. Submerging us into Borremans’ painterly microcosm, the figure holds the piece of paper up by its bottom corners at the furthest possible points, intent on displaying the whole object to the viewer; the figure delicately balances the right corner on the tips of his fingers, creating a sense of tension and intrigue. Peering over his right shoulder, the viewer is confronted with an unnervingly blank page. There are no clues elsewhere in the painting to help elucidate this enigmatic scene. There is neither a sense of time nor space in The Gap and it is this dislocated ambiguity, which imbues an element of cinematic poetry and mystery.


The Gap

signed, titled and dated 'MICHAEL M.C.G BORREMANS -THE GAP- 2001' on the reverse
oil on cardboard
22.7 x 31.5 cm (8 7/8 x 12 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2001.

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡♠

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova

Director, Specialist
Head of Day Sale
44 20 7318 4065


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 28 June 2019