Hidden in Plain Sight

Michaël Borremans’s retrospective arrives at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Michael Borremans Devil's Dress

The Belgian artist Michaël Borremans, 51, makes shadowy paintings of indecent or intensely private moments—things not meant to be seen. A woman stands in a corner with her hands behind her back. Her legs are missing. Two clothed men lie on the ground—asleep, dead, in a trance? Story fragments hang in the air. Questions pile up. “It looks like a painting that just sits on the wall,” says Jeffrey Grove, the curator of the show at the Dallas Museum of Art, where the traveling Borremans retrospective he put together arrives on March 15 (through July 5). “But then, when you pay attention, it suddenly takes on surrealist, conceptual, and cinematic qualities.” The exhibition includes about 50 paintings, as well as drawings and films, all of them created with an eye to masters like Goya and Manet. The show’s title, “As Sweet as It Gets,” comes from one of Borremans’s paintings and, as Grove points out, could mean that the artist’s outlook is either idyllic or intensely bleak, adding, “Michaël loves that kind of double entendre. It’s what his work is about.”