Leon de Bruijne - MODUS: 14.12.2019 - 08.03.2020

Leon de Bruijne

14.12.2019 – 08.03.2020

With MODUS, the Kasseler Kunstverein is organizing the first institutional solo exhibition in Germany of the Dutch artist Leon de Bruijne. For the first time, several of his large-format installations can be seen together in one exhibition, giving the public an insight into the artist’s working methods.
The exhibition opens on 13.12.2019 at 18 o'clock with the project "Kerstboomkanon", which Leon de Bruijne has developed together with the artist Willem van Doorn. 

The opening in the rooms of the Kasseler Kunstverein will take place at 7 pm.

opening hours
Tue – Sun & public holidays 11 am – 6 pm

Everything is on the move. And everything should move. Fast or slow. Whether with drama, seriousness or humour. In Modus, the kinetic installations of the artist Leon de Bruijne draw the attention of the audience by their movement. Whether it is a flying Christmas tree (Kerstboomkanon, 2017), slowly polished chairs (Quick Sand, 2015) or street lamps transformed into spinning tops (Dutch Delight, 2019), we are waiting for this movement in de Bruijne’s works. The slow and absurd vandalism of his works creates a poetic atmosphere in which the public finds a connection between art, technology and everyday objects.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an edition.

Leon de Bruijne (*1992), lives and works in Amsterdam.


The exhibition is supported by:
Kulturamt der Stadt Kassel
Mondriaan Fund
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Botschaft des Königsreichs der Niederlande
Kassel Marketing


Who wants to be Cinderella if you can be an ugly step sister

Roller shutter, penny-in-the-slot machine, steel construction. Steel canon, trees. Plastic chairs, plastic wrap, turning platform, steel construction, red button. Electromotor, waste chutes, bricks, steel construction. Electromotor, pneumatic cylinder, tiles, hoop, electronics, steel construction, red button. Fan, two blackboards. Trolleys. Conveyor belt, sandpaper, wooden chairs. Street lanterns, chair, boots, power drill. 

What might sound like the inventory of a garage is a listing of appropriated mundane products and tools by Dutch artist Leon de Bruijne (1992). A graduate of the Fine Arts department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent, more importantly he is a maker that concentrates on trial and error processes since early childhood. A variety of mechanised sculptures the artist developed over the last six years are on view in the exhibition Modus hosted by the Kasseler Kunstverein. Each of the mundane-object-turned-sculpture works appropriates a recognisable product from Western daily life and has a hypnotising effect due to its kinetic nature. 

The artist was taught by his former tutor you can never use the word entertaining when you describe an artwork but despite so indulges us in a show of folly machines at first glance, autonomous art works at second. De Bruijne turns visitors into passive viewers. Every sculpture in the show provides a different level of satisfaction. Most of them are unsatisfying and addictive. They toy with our imagination as we join the hero’s journey (a Western commodity center staged in each sculpture) and end up getting stuck in a state of constantly crossing thresholds, rarely reaching the enjoyment of the happily ever after.

The sculptures are perceived as cartoonish silhouettes due to their iconic shapes and colours, the exhibition space feels messy for a white cube. Machine sculptures are scattered across three rooms in the German exhibition venue, the show is like a construction site that just doesn’t want to reach final completion or like a paper collage that wants to keep its glue wet forever. Putting us in a mode of wondering if the exhibition build up is still ongoing and if the works are even done? Modus seduces our longing to feed our social media streams with behind the screen videos and failed attempts. It continues to raise questions and conversation about what determines a hobbyist from a professional or where does the technician end and the artist begin?
The human fascination for all things mechanic stems from our longing for ideal production. Ideal behaviour. We hardly notice the domestic violence between the electric current and the wiring happening inside a box on our walls. Is the finger or actually the light switch in charge of lighting up a room? De Bruijne instrumentalizes this type of banal humor and poetic violence which both share a transgressive nature: we laugh to overcome, we fight to overcome. These emotions are centre staged and made even more apparent by the institutional context in which they exist; the exhibition space during the winter holiday season that revolves around tying and untying personal relations. The artists’ search for novel ways of dramatising the mundane makes us perceive the sculptures and performances as technical and aesthetic figures. Stuck between the ordinary and the fairytale ending his works are tortured as they are repeatedly pulled back and forth between feeling like a kitchen utensil or seemingly random product one day, and a sculpture the next. 

Jules van den Langenberg, 13 December 2019

This text is based on various conversation with the artist Leon de Bruijne and a visit to the exhibition Modus in Kasseler Kunstverein with students of the Kunsthochschule Kassel.