Bernd Lohaus Prize 2012 awarded to Lien Hüwels
In furtherance of this aim the Prize Bernd Lohaus was created, an annual award to be presented to an artist in four consecutive years and to an art mediator in the fifth year. In considering the recipient of the Prize Bernd Lohaus only the artistic qualities of an oeuvre are taken into account, not the artist’s age or the medium in which he or she works.
The procedure is as follows: Anny De Decker and Stella Lohaus both choose a number of artists. A prominent figure from the visual arts is then asked to visit these artists and to name the eventual winner. Judgment is based on the work and the meeting with the artist, not on reports or intermediaries. Kasper König, co-founder of the Skulptur Projekte Münster, former director of the Städelschule in Frankfurt and the director of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne (until the end of October 2012), was the first to be invited to carry out this task. He has chosen Lien Hüwels.
Lien Hüwels (1988, Ekeren), who lives and works in Antwerp, makes photos, videos and installations. She is a graduate of Sint Lucas Antwerp, where Koen Theys was one of her teachers. Last year her work was shown in the group exhibition NowBelgiumNow and in The Tiberius Principle at the Middelheim Museum.
Lien Hüwels’s portraits suggest a minimal dramatic event, which we as spectators cannot interpret in any conclusive way: a scantily-clad woman lies on a sofa, confronting us with a challenging gaze; a woman pulls a white sheet protectively over her body, a woman sits on the floor in a crude empty space, a young girl in a striped T-shirt doubts how far she should go. Through posture, facial expression, setting (clothes and background) and so on, each of the portraits allows us to surmise more than we actually see. All the more so because the artist appears simultaneously as author and actress, explicitly raising the issue of the pitiless treatment of the female body and its vulnerability in her work. Thus, aspects of embarrassment virtually coincide with moments of challenge and the large format seems a contradiction to the visualization of intimacy. These ambiguities and the directness with which the artist stages the events give the viewer a feeling of uneasiness and voyeurism.
Lien Hüwels employs an idiom that is full of subtle references to art history and film, so the poses she presents are never vacant but have an apparent familiarity.
In the deliberate paucity of her imagery – the use of black and white, the low camera angle, the generally meagre setting – she turns the atmosphere to a poetic melancholy.
In her most recent work, the dark photograph in the window and the empty podium on which a couple of photo lamps stand, the model almost or completely disappears.