Collages that give you pause for thought

2019-10-18 07:51     Comment:0

In the Portuguese Bookshop in the city centre Belgian artist Burry Buermans is holding an exhibition, entitled “Retrospectiva”, of his thought-provoking and intricate collages until the end of the month.

The exhibition has been organised by Vera Paz, the artistic director of D’As Entranhas Macau – Cultural Association.

“Retrospectiva” is Portuguese for “retrospective” – and Buermans uses old books and magazines, from as far back as 1874, to form his intricate collages to draw in his audience from the overall shape to the minute details inside the shapes that make up the collage.

MPD Weekender spoke to Buermans in the Portuguese Bookshop before his exhibition opened recently. When asked when and how he first got into creating collages as an art medium, Buermans said that he started seriously on January 19, 2012.

“It all started when a friend was writing a book about the traffic problems in Antwerp [where Buermans was living at the time] and he wanted some collages so some friends and I went over. They were ripping up paper and I was cutting it into very small pieces and kept having flashbacks to when I  was six years old and a game we used to play.”

Buermans then went on to say, “I was riding my motorbike home after helping my friend and I was thinking about collages and the pieces when I had an accident and ended up in hospital, and while I was in hospital I kept thinking about the pieces of paper I had in my bag and what I could do with them. When I got out of hospital, I rushed home to make a collage out of them.”

It was about this time that Buermans moved to Portugal to be with his Portuguese girlfriend and he now lives in Loubagueira.

Cutting and cutting
MPD Weekender asked Buermans how he went about making his collages. He said that he will cut up a book or magazine into the separate pieces from each picture, and sometimes when he is cutting, he may find a piece that he knows where he wants it to go in the collage.

“Sometimes I start with it and sometimes it ends up where I imagined it would be,” he said. “Many times, I have far more pieces than I actually need, but I just keep cutting and cutting,” he added.

He added, “I don’t just stick lots of pieces on a board, it is like a treasure hunt looking for just the right piece.” 

Buermans collages are extremely intricate and the cutting is very precise. “You will find no bits of white on the edges of the paper in any of my collages, I am a bit autistic when it comes to cutting,” he said.

The tools that Buermans uses, scissors and cutters, are really delicate and fine to get the precision he puts into his work.

One example is a series he has created in which there are two stamps in a frame and the centre of one stamp has been cut out with extreme meticulousness and stuck onto the picture of the other stamp.

Buermans said, “I was helping a friend at a market stall and there were these banana boxes full of stamps and I just knew I had to have them, so I bought them, but it was a few years before I knew what I was going to do with them.” In one large collage, “Wild War Boar”, each individual bomb has been cut and pasted with not a line or waver of the hand in sight.

Repurposing, not destroying
Last week Buermans was working with some magazines that were from 1931, cutting and deciding what to do with the pieces.

 Buermans’ cutting is so precise that two of them people from different pages of the magazine could link arms. Buermans said, “I was going through an abandoned house once and found some newspapers dated 1874 which I thought would make a good collage. My friends said I was crazy to destroy them. But if they [the newspapers] had been left in the house they would have been destroyed anyway. I was just repurposing them and giving them another life which everyone can see.”

Another example of repurposing is a 1974 collector’s item of the book written in 1954, “The Story of O”, originally “Histoire d’O” in French, which was subsequently banned in many countries until later in the 1970s. It is a tale of erotic sadomasochism and Buermans has repurposed the pictures in the shapes of Disney’s Minnie and Mickey Mouse.

Evoking people’s thoughts
Buermans creates many of his collages to get people thinking and by using shapes that are recognisable, like Minnie and Mickey Mouse, which attract the viewers. The viewers are drawn to the intricate details within the shapes that lead them to the message or topic that Buermans is hoping to get across.

Many of the collages are very topical. There is one that is a collage of cats within a mask used by the police in many countries to keep the anonymity of the suspects. This mask has a cat’s ears and is called Pussy Riot after the Russian Punk Rock group, three members of which were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for hooliganism allegedly motivated by religious hatred in 2012, according to Russian prosecutors.

Author, director, actor, artist
Buermans life motto is “Chase your Dreams” and as a child he dreamt of being an artist. He took a rather convoluted route to this: he started a theatre company, organised and decorated his own parties and hitchhiked around the world, according to the exhibition brochure. Buermans has been an author, director and actor of children’s theatre in Portugal since 2013, professions he pursued in Belgium from 1994 to 2014. He has acted in the plays “Colapso and Colapso”, “SG Gigante”, “Valley of the Dolls” and “Men Project” as a member of D’As Entranhas (“Of the Entrails”), the exhibition organiser.

Inspired by Macau?
Buermans has meanwhile returned to Portugal for a workshop.

When asked if he had been inspired by anything in Macau, he said, “It is like treasure hunting here,… I am only here for a few days but I am interested in creating a collage of a transformer, but with moving parts that youcan move around like the real thing. But I haven’t found a book yet.” Published

Burry Buermans poses with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in the basement of the Portuguese Bookshop, the venue for the exhibition, last week.

The tools top that Burry Buermans uses and cut-outs from a 1931 magazine from which he is creating a new collage.


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