Belgian architect-artist

Koen Deprez

1988

Nuklear Terrasse

Imagine a city devoid of material objects... Deprez invited the visionary architect Julien Schillemans (1906-1943), the Italian artist Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) and the French cultural theorist Paul Virilio (b. 1932) to reflect upon this idea. The fictional responses he received from his correspondents inspired a series of collages entitled Nuklear Terrasse – a reference to the work of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1850).

The collage technique allows the artist to juxtapose different images: pictures reminiscent of 1970s atomic warfare are integrated into startling new contexts. In these works, Deprez replaces the grand, natural landscapes that characterise Romantic paintings with nocturnal urban vistas; atmospheric nuclear explosions, rather than moonlight, illuminate the surroundings. An atom bomb explodes in the midst of the metropolitan landscape; a mushroom-cloud billows upwards. Nuklear Terrasse is a 'mysterium tremendum et fascinans': in other words, it triggers a combination of awestruck fear and enthralling fascination. This friction, which Deprez describes as 'cinematographic', demonstrates the transformative effect of an ephemeral event upon a material environment – in this case, the coruscating light that floods the city.

Männer in Betrachtung des Mondes, collage, 14 x 18 cm

Männer in Betrachtung des Mondes, collage, 14 x 18 cm

Kreidfelsen auf Rügen, collage, 17 x 19 cm

Kreidfelsen auf Rügen, collage, 17 x 19 cm