Koen Theys (º1963) belongs to the first generation of visual artists in Belgium to exploit and appropriate video as an artistic medium in the early 1980s. He came to international attention with productions such as the video work Diana (1984) and an ambitious interpretation of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (1984-1989), the latter in collaboration with Frank Theys. In more recent work, he has again deconstructed the great traditions of art history and linked them to contemporary issues (Het Vanitasrecord, 2005). Modernist statements are also approached in a similar way (The Many Things Show, 2007).
The deconstruction of icons of our Western culture and cultural history is a characteristic that runs through his photographic, video and sculptural work. His artistic method is the manipulation of these icons via displacement, doubling, morphing, and so on, until they become inversions of themselves, as it were. Recently, Koen Theys has been working on, among other things, a series of video installations (Fanfare, Calme & Volupté, 2007, PATRIA (Vive le roi! Vive la république!), 2008 and Death Fucking Metal, 2014) that are inspired by the 'tableau vivant' of the nineteenth-century romantic painting tradition. This romanticism is inverted in Waterloo Forever! (2010), a large-scale and grotesque adaptation of the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo.