Quentin Desmit’s artwork Wildwood Embrace.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Reality and Fantasy merge in the latest collection of Quentin Desmit, the multi-faceted Belgian artist based in the UAE.
Titled Fantasia and curated by Astrid Lesuisse, it features over twenty-two pieces of art, available for private viewing at the artist’s studio till November 29. Drawing inspiration from Disney’s iconic 1940 animated movie of the same name, Desmit’s sculptural style offers complementarity between contrasts such as freedom and control, simplicity and complexity, tradition and innovation, motion and stillness, tradition and innovation and reality and fantasy.
Influenced by masters like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Philippe Starck, the artist’s work is a revolutionary experience. Antoine Delcourt, Ambassador of Belgium in the UAE, graced the preview held on October 24 at Desmit’s studio, as Guest of Honour. Opening the doors to his private space, Desmit gave a glimpse into his personal and aesthetic world: his home, his studio and his workspace, where creativity comes to life.
At the core of the collection is the paintbrush, the primary tool of artistic creation, rich in history, which the artist has reimagined as the subject of his art. Fantasia is a body of work that draws inspiration from an American animated segment set to pieces of classical music, based on the 1797 poem Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Goethe. Just as the apprentice loses control over the enchanted broomsticks, the artist loses some control of the flow of the paintbrush.
Shaping Our Future by Quentin Desmit.
It all started of course with the curve and ‘Curvism’, a movement of Desmit’s own creation. ‘Curvism’, as Desmit defines it, gravitates around the notions of movement, arabesque, and voluptuousness. By choosing the paintbrush as the iconic object of his work, he plays with his favourite instrument of creation and uses it to emanate light through colour.
Desmit communicates through vivid colours and seductive curves. They have consistently defined his style. Resin offers him great flexibility and freedom in his movements, allowing him to have a certain control over the material. This permits him to capture the fluidity of the flow of the paintbrush in his sculptures. Always in constant pursuit of development, he has incorporated wooden pieces into his collection that allows him to work with materials that help him align with his ecological values.
For example, the artwork titled Wildwood Embrace portrays a curve captured in a finished piece of wood emerging from a block of concrete. The work is powerful, symbolising Nature reclaiming its place in the constantly evolving urban landscape shaped by human thought. In another piece, the oversized paintbrush, as seen in the piece Shaping Our Future, creates an element of surprise and sublimity. It goes to show the many aspects of Desmit’s oeuvre.
“Most people express themselves with words; I express myself with colours and curves,” he says. Overcoming dyslexia as a child, he spent over thirty years experimenting with various mediums, till he found his art voice. After arriving in Dubai in 2012, he was captivated by Arabic calligraphy; this is seen in the graceful, dancing flow of his work. The rhythmic movements of calligraphy resonated with his sensibilities, leading him to use it as a visual medium. His sculptures echo a calligraphic essence, inviting us into their rhythm.
“I aspire to create timeless pieces of art that capture the technical movement and fleeting beauty of the paintbrush in the act of dancing,” he says. He is a visual storyteller, who uses the paintbrush to converse with the viewer and share fantastical stories of his own. Captured in resin, the irreplaceable instrument becomes the subject, a timeless object d’art, and the artist’s signature. Desmit indeed creates new boundaries and writes fresh narratives in the Fantasia collection through his handmade technique that captures fleeting movements of arresting beauty. His especial swirls and touches of vivid colours are instantly recognisable. A subversive art maker, his works are sought and bought by collectors worldwide.
He made Dubai his home in 2012, and through techniques as diverse as painting, sculpture, digital and photography, he has been exploring the architectural landscape of the emirate to create singular and striking pieces of art. Lesuisse is a French creative arts specialist. She arrived in Dubai in 2020, with notable fine arts experience from working with different galleries, art fairs, hotels and companies specialising in art. She has curated art exhibits, managed artists, sold art, conceived collaborative projects, organised events and implemented integrated campaigns.
A reputed figure in the art scene, she has been contributing to Dubai’s growing prominence as a leading cultural and arts hub, particularly through her work with a diverse range of Emirati and UAE-based international artists. She represents both emerging and established artists and her curatorial approach is collaborative and multicultural. She has built close relationships with galleries, collectors, and brands on a global scale.
Since she is passionate about nurturing new talent and strives to provide artists with a platform to introduce their work to local and global audiences, she collaborates with other curators, collectors, developers, designers and architects, to develop innovative exhibition and collection concepts. In an aside about this show, she said that “La Maison, the Belgian pastry shop, was our preferred partner for the occasion. Together, we provided all guests with an immersive and gustative experience, featuring the traditional Belgian waffle infused with local flavours. The fusion of Belgian culture created a connection with the work of the artist, making it a memorable evening for all.”
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