Lili Dujourie, Maagdendale, 1982

To coincide with her exhibition Folds in Time at the SMAK and in Mu.Zee, the MSK is was showing an early work by Lili Dujourie (b. 1941, Roeselare) as part of the Old Master collection. Lili Dujourie was one of the pioneers of video art in the 1970s, but her focus turned increasingly towards sculpture during the 1980s. Many of these works are made out of velvet, and are thus associated with a specific iconography from the painterly tradition. The first work in an important series of sculptures to feature sophisticated draping and beautiful folds was made in 1982, on the occasion of an exhibition in the medieval abbey of Maagdendale in Oudenaarde.

Within this historical and religious context, the references to divine themes and allusions to the Flemish Primitives and art of the Baroque were clearly stated. By making visual links with the graceful draperies seen in Old Master paintings, from those featured within domestic interiors to the robes in works depicting the Madonna and child – works that are well represented in the MSK’s rich collection – Lili Dujourie both updates and continues this art’s historical legacy.

The proximity of the Ghent altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers, which is currently  being restored at the museum, lent her work an extra dimension. This was further enhanced by the recent discovery that the angel’s robes and those of the two donors were overpainted at a later date. The conservators were now working to make the original paint layers visible again, which will enable the brilliant colours of the detailed rendering of textures and sumptuous drapery, with its unique depth and subtle interplay of light and shadow, to be seen for the first time in centuries.

Lili Dujourie also considered her project in the MSK to be a tribute to the museum where, as a youth, she first came into contact with our rich visual culture.