To the Palais des Beaux-Arts this afternoon to see The Crooked Path, an exhibition, on the eve of its closure, of the work of Canadian photographer Jeff Wall. The exhibition was not only a gathering of many of Wall’s most important works but also a chronological presentation of his development and of the artists and works that have influenced him, including quantities of Minimalist, Conceptualist and cinematographic work. Wall’s hallmarks are very large format photographs, illuminated from behind through light boxes, of apparently spontaneous but actually very carefully constructed scenes, almost always referring to other iconic works, from Edouard Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe through to Ralph Elison’s Invisible Man. (Independently, the sheer quality of Wall’s prints renders them strongly reminiscent of painted works.) At one and the same time things are not what they seem and are more than what they seem, but the meaning is hidden behind convincing reconstructions of apparent reality. The Thinker (picture), for example, deliberately recalls a Dürer engraving called The Peasant’s Column. But unless the viewer is primed, it takes some time to register the knife sunk in the thinker’s back. One of the accompanying contemporary works was David Claerbout’s extraordinary and intriguing Sections of a Happy Moment. There was a Claerbout exhibition on at Wiels in March (blogged here). This work was not among those on display. If you get a chance, see it. The Wiki entry describes it thus: ‘Claerbout seems to ‘dissect’ a moment in the life of a Chinese family in the courtyard of a nondescript estate. A group of people are gathered around a ball suspended mid-air, all the faces turned towards it, smiling happily. Over the course of 25 minutes, this moment in time is analyzed from a multitude of different angles and perspectives, allowing the viewer an omnipresence that is paradoxical. The fragmentation of time in this piece, through freeze – frames of the same moment, creates ‘visible duration’.’