Rein Dufait | Malkolos

You can sample art outside the walls of the museum too.

A new work by Rein Dufait, Malkolos, a site-specific sculpture, can be seen near the side entrance of the S.M.A.K. café.

About the artist

Dufait’s (1990) work revolves around the contrast between nature and culture, which he wants to eliminate. The process of creation and growth is an elementary and essential one in the progress towards a work (or an idea). The work involved remains visible and consequently the works have air breathed into them and the breath is given free rein; it carries the maker’s work to the viewer, transforming it from a work into a living thing.

Time is visible in nature, and is so in this oeuvre too. The works are light and delicate, even though the materials are sometimes heavy and unwieldy. The artist has the talent to inject the forms with jollity or, rather, gladness. A will to live and the joy of living. This means the works are not static, but are made lively by the process-based work done on them and by their affinity with natural forms. In and alongside nature, the artist creates a world where the objects ask to be transformed in precisely this way. Make it new. What was not there before, becomes obvious once it is shown.

About the sculpture

Malkolos, site-specific at S.M.A.K., Ghent, 2016

(height 4 metres, diameter 45 cm. Cement, rope and cardboard boxes, anchored with iron rods)

Cardboard boxes and mortar; the boxes are tied together with rope and stacked on top of each other. The first, filled with mortar, forms the plinth. On it is placed a second, which is open underneath and slides halfway over the first box. Mortar is poured into this one too. This is repeated so that each box becomes the plinth for the next one. The cardboard becomes a mould, an open hand to receive the mortar, while the mortar is an element of ground and growth.

Because the mortar has to dry before the next layer can be added, it is a slow process and one that offers itself up to nature. The work builds itself up, becomes layered like the rings of a tree and is already at the mercy of the elements while it is still being made.

This work is fragile, despite the hardened mortar. An almost untouchable proximity that asks to be touched; a fragility in brutalism. The sculpture does not relate to other forms competitively, but as a cultural form alongside other artefacts and natural forms. We see a mould that becomes alive.

The cement (the earth, the ground) and the water (the sea, the rain) make up the mortar. Oxygen (the air) ensures an interaction. Even when hard, this sculpture remains a natural product. The rain brings organisms with it, the wind sows moss, leaves form humus. When its maker has gone, the sculpture will keep on growing as one thing among other things. Just as the branch of a tree shows and is its growth, the still-visible cardboard is a fragile and structuring element. Vulnerability is a part of life. Marks are a sign of life.

The sculpture will live. The dead material will nourish its surroundings. Birds will use this artefact to drink from. The leaves of the trees will settle into the sculpture. The sun will scorch and dry out certain parts. Cracks will be transformed into holes for insects. What nature gives to us will be returned to it.


Every year, the Friends of the S.M.A.K. invite several artists to create an edition. When you buy an edition you automatically become a Friend and help the growth of the museum and its collection. Rein Dufait has also made an edition specially for the Friends.