Up to Maximum Freedom, or Down to the Ant Heap




“You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream—the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order—or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.” -Ronald Reagan


“The only problem with total freedom is that chaos hides behind every corner.” -Alain de Botton


Highlight Gallery is pleased to present Up to maximum freedom, or down to the ant heap, the first solo exhibition of Belgian artist Manor Grunewald in the United States. Borrowing words from former president Ronald Reagan, the title of Grunewald’s exhibition balances in the space between transcendence and degradation. In claiming these words, the artist’s interest is not in the charged politics of their source, but rather in the metaphors they hold for the life of a contemporary artist. For Grunewald, these polarities encapsulate the ups and downs of productivity; the individual and creative decisions that are made; the positive and negative criticism; and the successes and failures along the way.


Grunewald’s work—which takes form through paintings, collages, and in-situ installations—raises questions about the role of the artist in contemporary society. Like the aforementioned ant heap, Grunewald’s work is crawling with references—historical images, logos, medical illustrations, advertisements, titles, texts, and phrases pulled from elsewhere populate the imaginary field. Layering these images with text and paint, Grunewald creates a series of works that open themselves up to multiple possible narratives and interpretations.


Manor Grunewald has had solo shows throughout Belgium, including at Galerie Fortlaan 17 (Gent), The SECONDroom (Antwerp), and the Beursschouwburg (Brussels), as well as at Arco Madrid. In March, 2012, he will open a solo exhibition at VOLTA NY. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Hermitage Museum (Amsterdam), The Bozar (Brussels), The Hypnotic Defense (Tokyo), Kulturbunker (Frankfurt), and Gallery Chappe Montmarte (Paris). He has been selected for the Young Belgian Painters Award, and the BNP Paribas Young Talent Award, and was nominated for the provincial Prijs Beeldende Kunst Oost-Vlaanderen.