11 May 14 July 2023


Bernard Dubois

Hôtel Danckaert, Rue Meyerbeer 33, Brussels (BE)

For his first solo show at MANIERA gallery, Belgian architect Bernard Dubois, who established his own practice in 2013, continues his research into geometrical shapes. While he explored divergent geometrical shapes in his duo show with French fashion designer Isaac Reina for MANIERA 21, he now focuses on the circle and its spatial figure: the cone.
Inspired by architects such as the Brazilian master Oscar Niemeyer and the American artist Richard Serra, Dubois playfully researches the possibilities of distorting different parts of a cone. In so doing, he develops geometrical shapes that do not yet exist, and discovers new estranging volumes and proportions. While an object can look more severe by combining the parts in a certain way, the same parts take on a completely different appearance if combined in an alternative constellation. In this sense, Bernard Dubois sees his rather abstract objects as highly individual personalities. As in a stage play, it is the connection between the objects and their characterful proportions that brings them to life.
For the show ‘Displaced Circles’, which deliberately provides a literal description of the creation process, Bernard Dubois conceived six new objects: a coffee table, a centrepiece, and four lamps in different sizes and materials. Following Le Corbusier’s philosophy of brutalist architecture, Dubois opted for solid materials that function as both construction and finish. Each object is made from a single material, which defines its final shape and expression. Extensive research into materials determines the final choice.
As for his latest show, Bernard Dubois collaborated with Belgian workshops that are known for their excellent craftsmanship. The porcelain lamp is conceived in close collaboration with Atelier Pieter Stockmans in Genk, the rammed earth one is made by the Brusselsbased company BC Materials, and the terracotta pieces are created with the Dutch firm Husk Ceramics. Each material influences the outcome of the pieces. While porcelain shrinks dramatically, the raw rammed earth is rather fragile. The translucent character of porcelain beautifully contrasts with the solidity of the rammed earth and terracotta. All atmospheric lamps spread a warm glow, which makes them discreetly present in one’s home.
Within the context of Villa Danckaert by architect Jean-Baptiste Dewin, the objects are displayed in the former dining room on geometrical pedestals covered in leather. While the leather in earth tones is a nod to Dubois’ first collection for MANIERA, the scenography itself was designed for last year’s collection presentation by the young leather accessories brand At.Kollektive. Dubois uses four different shapes, which are combined into a landscape installation.
With its omnipresent wooden interior, the villa functions as a cosy, homelike setting where the pieces can come to life in every corner. Although as a rule, Dubois always designs furniture and interiors for specific contexts, this collection was imagined as a decontextualized, abstract formal study. In this sense, Dubois could freely experiment, whilst at the same time the objects are more flexible to fit into diverse interiors. In addition, the formal studies function as small experiments for architectural proportions in his daily global practice.
by Elien Haentjens.