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Doomed to play the villain's part: Nick Cave to debut devilish ceramics in Brussels next year

Nick Cave to debut devilish ceramics in Brussels next year
Nick Cave to debut devilish ceramics in Brussels next year Copyright AP Photo/Chris Pizzello - Nick Cave and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
Copyright AP Photo/Chris Pizzello - Nick Cave and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
By David Mouriquand
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The 2024 exhibition at Xavier Hufkens will feature the legendary Bad Seeds frontman's first major body of visual work.

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Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave will have his debut commercial exhibition at the Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels next year, entitled “The Devil - A Life (2020–22).”

The collection is made up of 17 glazed ceramic figurines following the cradle-to-grave story of the Devil, a body of work that Cave has called “a journey towards some kind of absolution from a series of shattering events.”

So, on top of being a music and songwriting genius, an astute commentator on the modern world - especially when it comes to AI and the arts - as well as a celebrated author, the man is also a sculptor?

Well, the Renaissance man studied painting at Melbourne’s Caulfield Institute of Technology before turning his attention to a musical career. He released a memoir, "Faith, Hope and Carnage", and has been exploring ceramics as a medium. As you do.

Incidentally, if you haven't read "Faith, Hope and Carnage", please do. Composed of dialogues Cave had with Irish journalist Seán O’Hagan, the candid conversations inthe book focus on art, creativity, religion, addiction, lockdown, how vulnerability creates “invincibility”, and Cave’s life in the wake of the accidental death of his son Arthur in 2015. It is a deeply thoughtful work, from which the reader emerges with a sense of humility but also great empathy. A stunning read. 

But back to the Devil... 

Nick Cave, "Devil As Child (2020–22)."
Nick Cave, "Devil As Child (2020–22)."Courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Cave’s ceramic works were first shown in Finland in September 2022 at the Sara Hildén Art Museum as part of the group exhibition “We", which also included works by actor Brad Pitt and artist Thomas Houseago.

In this new series, Cave frames the character of the Devil as a complex, flawed, everyday character. In a statement, he characterized the ceramic series headed to Brussels next year as centered on “the idea of forgiveness, the idea that there is a moral virtue in beauty. It’s a kind of balancing of our sins.”

Nick Cave, "Devil Bleeds to Death (2020–22)."
Nick Cave, "Devil Bleeds to Death (2020–22)."Courtesy of the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.

Hardly a surprising subject matter for fans of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, considering Cave’s songwriting often intertwines themes of faith with traditionally dark imagery, reflecting his complex relationship with Christianity. Still, we can’t wait to head to Belgium next year to witness the Devil’s life cycle.

“The Devil - A Life (2020–22)” is on at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, Belgium – 5 April to 11 May 2024.

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