Harald Thys en Jos de Gruyter

Das Loch

55th International Art Exhibition
la Biennale di Venezia
June 1st – November 24th 2013

In their most recent works such as Das Loch, de Gruyter & Thys have replaced actors with mannequins that have limited features, inhuman computerised voices and a certain emptiness at their core. Das Loch describes the complex rivalry that exists between two characters – Johannes, who believes in the universal expression of painting, and Fritz, a little red macho-man in possession of an HD camera. Johannes's empathic wife Hildegard, in a role that reduces her to the female stereotype from film history, acts as the linchpin for her husband’s emotions. Within the OPTIMUNDUS exhibition, the characters present from this work are Fritz wearing his sunglasses behind a fence, Hildegard, Ricco & Rocco, Tommy The Singing Trumpet, and Johannes amongst an expansive display of his paintings.


Jos de Gruyter (°1965) and Harald Thys (° 1966) live and work in Brussels. They have been working together for over twenty years. The collaborative work of Belgian artists Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys is rooted in a folksy, tragicomic sensibility honed into an experimental dramaturgy. The video and photographic work uses simple, symbolic sets, including the paradigmatic spaces of home, battlefield, urban periphery and community hall. They have engaged a recurring cast of non-professional actors as well as invented or adopted personae spanning the forms of puppets, dummies, plush animals, makeshift robots and rejected toys. These characters continually rehearse power dynamics and emotional entanglements, creating worlds not unlike our own, yet more focused, bizarre and bleak. The artists seek ways to confront marginal, incapacitated, lost and alienated subjects without defining these ‘others’ in sociological terms. In this sense, and especially in their novel use of a ghoulish humour, Thys and de Gruyter broaden the scope of reflection on socially produced behaviour.
Their major solo exhibition entitled OPTIMUNDUS opened in February 2013 at M HKA Antwerp, and will travel to Kunsthalle Wien starting from January 2014.