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Curated By

Ilse Roossens


26 - 29 May 2022

The fourth edition of Ballroom Project is centered on the concept of the 'grotesque'. The word used to refer to cave drawings and is best known for designating strange figures and motives from nature. By extension, it concerns bizarre or exaggerated scenes. For various reasons, the former Magistrates’ Court, home to Ballroom Project, is an ideal setting for an exhibition about the grotesque. It is a unique historical location with many floral and leaf ornaments and marbled wall paintings. Today, visitors actually even walk into a plant shop. The decorations are lavish, sometimes leaning towards kitsch. We find peculiar characters at the very top of the building: the attic is furnished with bedrooms for the local giants. A number of later interventions, mainly of a practical nature (think of the posts with power outlets), wrap the entire building in an atmosphere of absurdity.

Ballroom Project presents a broad variety of artworks - predominantly paintings and sculptures - in which alienating characters, natural elements and/or extravagance play a role. There are terrifying or even very moving figures, sometimes recognisable and referring to mythological scenes, at other times anonymous and generic or animal-like. Artistic gestures of different scales merge reality and fantasy. They emphasize certain feelings and perspectives to give us a deeper understanding of the world or even bring us an alternate universe.

The exhibition also approaches the grotesque from an ecological angle. Many of us do not recognize ourselves in the way humans treat the earth and look for new connections with nature to regain a grip on the environment. Awareness of the ecological drama is gradually seeping in, which for some artists leads to a desire to get closer to nature, and for others results in panic, confusion, total indifference or an escape into the superhuman. Humor and irony are ways of coping with the feeling of powerlessness, but also of gaining acceptance from others. An exaggeration can be a way of claiming attention and making a statement. The grotesque jolts us awake. It takes us to an imaginary world and then puts us back down to earth.


1 strangely or fantastically distorted; bizarre
2 of or characteristic of the grotesque in art
3 absurdly incongruous; in a ludicrous context

4 a 16th-century decorative style in which parts of human, animal and plant forms are distorted and mixed
5 a decorative device, as in painting or sculpture, in this style
6 printing: the family of 19th-century sans serif display types
7 any grotesque person or thing

word origin
from French, from Old Italian (pittura) grottesca cave painting, from grottesco of a cave, from grotta cave

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