The Shift


Oil on canvas

42 x 49 x 3.5 cm (16 9/16 x 19 5/16 x 1 3/8 in.)

Two three-quarter busts of men with disembodied features, seen from behind, seem to blend into the dark canvas. They wear identical clothing and repeat the same gesture in a diagonal line, holding out their left arms, as if duplicating a single motif.

The Shift departs somewhat from the vein of strong photographic realism that usually runs through Borremans’s paintings, but it still has the enigmatic dimension that also characterises his work. Here, the motif of the double is superimposed on a visual reflection on the abolition of the boundary between subject and pictorial background through the use of a dark palette and wide brushstrokes.

Michaël Borremans’ The Shift was shown for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the exhibition "Mapping the Studio" (2009-2011) at the Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi in Venice.