Nick Cave explores the life of the Devil in his first art exhibition in Belgium

Prolific Australian musician and artist Nick Cave will showcase 17 ceramic works at the Xavier Hufkens Gallery in Brussels starting on Friday. In The Devil — A Life, he explores the theme of innocence turning to experience as he recounts the life of the Devil.

While he is best known for his music, Cave's original trajectory was as a painting student at an Australian university. For his first exposition in Belgium, he created a series of 17 glazed ceramic figurines that portray a human look at the life of the Devil. Cave's lifelong interest in religion which he approaches with a mix of scepticism and belief, inspired this deeply personal project.

Cave’s series draws on Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man from the play As You Like It, which examines the roles he believes humans are assigned: infant, schoolchild, lover, soldier, judge, elder, and decrepit. "The young Devil inherits the world, grows up and falls in love. He is brave, fights a lion and rides off to war. He kills his firstborn son, is shunned for his transgressions and turns into a shell of his former self. Ultimately, he suffers an abject death before achieving, in the final work, a child’s posthumous forgiveness," the gallery says of the works.

©Xavier Hufkens Gallery
©Xavier Hufkens Gallery

The pieces have been created in the style of Victorian Staffordshire flatback figurines, which were produced in small factories in England between 1837 and 1900, often by children. Cave began his work on this project in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Devil — A Life is a form of pictorial storytelling that questions how we interpret the human condition," the gallery says. "In the figure of the Devil, Cave sees a flawed individual — an embodiment of the darker, irrational aspects of the human psyche — who nevertheless aspires to betterment. In other words, people are conflicted, and there is good and bad in everyone."

The Xavier Hufkens Gallery will not be Cave's only stop in Belgium this year. Following his band's new release, Wild God, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds will play twice in the Antwerp Sportpaleis in October.

The Devil — A Life is a free exhibition that runs until 11 May.


Photo ©Sami Kero STT-LEHTIKUVA

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