A bizarre battlefield through which you walk and are struck by the echoes of great and small human drama. You experience it in Folkert de Jong's installation The Shooting at Watou (2006), set up in the cupola of Bonnefanten. Look down the barrel of a soldier's rifle or take cover behind the broad back of the smiling giant....

About the artist

Folkert de Jong (Egmond aan Zee, 1972) is a sculptor who prefers to work with polyurethane foam and sheets of insulating material. It is cheap material that has a great effect but is vulnerable in the long run.

His artworks are populated by colourful and tragicomic figures partying and fighting their way through apocalyptic scenes. Often the characters are borrowed from (art) history. Preferably, he depicts controversial heroes who are given the dubious honour of being looked at and dissected from all sides once more.

De Jong also reflects on his own role as an artist. Who, in today's society, has to twist and turn to meet contradictory demands such as social commitment, seduction and commercial success.

The Shooting at Watou

The Shooting at Watou was made in 2006 for the art and poetry festival in Watou. This Belgian village, on the border with France, has been ravaged by war throughout history. The sculpture group consists of elegantly dressed soldiers surrounding a colossal pink figure. The soldiers have their artillery at the ready, the giant raises his arm. Does he want to surrender or mow down his opponents? Or is he waving at the viewer for reassurance?

When De Jong made the sculpture for Watou in 2006, he used the title to refer to Francisco de Goya's world-famous painting El 3 de Mayo en Madrid (nicknamed The Executions).

With the group no longer on view in its original setting, and the large puppets weathered by time and circumstance, the associations become freer. Who is the large figure? Can we see this as a self-portrait or an allegory for the artist? Or are we being fooled and don't need to think about it so deeply?

Donated by Netty and Jeu van Sint Fiet

La Danse

Folkert de Jong: The Shooting at Watou
Folkert de Jong, La Danse, 2012. Collection Bonnefanten, donated by the artist and Galerie Fons Welters.

Outside the Bonnefanten building, you will find La Danse (2012) by Folkert de Jong. It is one of De Jong's first bronze sculptures, specially made for an outdoor exhibition in 2013. A melancholic, isolated figure wearing a hat stands in a frozen, courtly movement. Without a dance partner or acrobatic troupe, this pose has no function. In the context of a (historical-looking) sculpture in the public space, it is unclear what it is supposed to represent and what it stands for. De Jong seems to want to say that the same applies to art and artistry as a whole.


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