Photo of the week: Let there be light


An artwork by famous Flemish artist Wim Delvoye has found the perfect home in the entryway to Ghent’s Sint-Baafs Cathedral

Up and down

A famous piece by renowned Flemish artist Wim Delvoye has been installed inside Ghent’s cathedral. The artwork is called “Opus” and was made by Delvoye some 10 years ago, touring museums under the same “Suppo”. It was most notably installed for a time inside the glass pyramid at the Louvre.

“Opus” is a five-metre high spiral that resembles a tower or column, both of which reflect the architecture of the Sint-Baafs cathedral. It hangs in the entryway of the cathedral and can be raised and lowered to different heights by a suspension cable system.

The work is made from laser-cut stainless steel, with different sized pieces melting together to form a Gothic tower. “Opus” also calls to mind the skeletal nature of tracery, the method of dividing windows into separate panes with moulding, an enduring element of church architecture.

“Opus” can be viewed up close when suspended just above the floor of the cathedral

“We wanted to integrate contemporary art in with the historic works that are here in the cathedral,” father Ludo Collin of the Ghent diocese told VRT. For him, the piece is also reminiscent of what Sint-Baafs is missing – a spire.

“In 1538, when the cathedral tower was completed, there was a spire,” explained Collin. “Decades later, it was destroyed by lightning and never replaced.” The artwork, he says, is shaped like two spires “with one facing the heavens and the other facing the earth.”

Collin finds this a perfect metaphor for the church. “As Christians, we are always turning our gaze upwards to heaven, but we have to create value in our lives here on earth by how brotherly, tolerant and mercifully we treat each other.”

“Opus” is the end of a very long story between Delvoye and the city of Ghent. The city had signed a €248,000 contract with the artist 19 years ago to create several stained glass windows. Some of the locations the city had in mind didn’t work out, and the situation drug out for nearly two decades. “Opus” is the final solution and will remain in the cathedral permanently.

Photos, from top: ©Jonas Dhollander/BELGA, courtesy Stad Gent