A belated post on the Jean Tinguely exhibition in the Kunsthal, which ended late January... While cool to see such an uncompromising, alternative vision on our material, over-industrious world, the exhibition turned out to be slightly underwhelming, perhaps because of overanticipation, but mostly because of too many voluminous works cramped in a space too small (and too crowded) to appreciate them properly.
One work, however, struck home in its sheer simplicity, condensing Tinguely's sprawling mechanical ideas in one small canvas. 'Do-it-yourself-sculpture' (1961), five white lines on a black background, is exceptional in being one of Tinguely's most stylized works. Compare this to his sprawling machines made of raw, industrial junk, and it looks like pure abstract art - an early Malevich or a black-and-white Mondriaan - except for the fact that the white lines move, propelled by a small motor behind the canvas. When moving it's like a clock of some parallel world, an advanced parody of our own.
At the same time, a typical Tinguely touch was to make his work into a do-it-yourself sculpture. It was shipped as an assembly kit, to be constructed by the buyer using a manual. Of all his attempts to involve the public in his art, this one seemed to me the most effective, and the most basic: assembling the artwork yourself before hanging it on the wall. What else would you want?