De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald

Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys have worked together since the second half of the 1980s and are best known for their videos. In their video work, there is a disturbing intimacy between the actors and the slow and monotonous dialogues, derived from theater dramaturgy and inspired by children's television.


The actors they use are mostly unskilled and come from the artists' family and friends. The exaggerated gestures, gloomy environments and sad and degenerate characters, isolated from the rest of the world, suggest an outside world that is an invisible presence.


The work finds its origin in a wide variety of sources of inspiration, from certain key scenes from the films of Fassbinder, Visconti and Robert Bresson, to clandestine reality programs, the arsenal of anonymously produced films on YouTube, but also to traumatizing confrontations that they experienced the years with specific places and individuals.  


About their exhibition at Venice Biennale:


Dolls: Artists de Gruyter and Thys at the Venice Biennale MONDO CANE, that is the name of the exhibition of Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys at the 58th Venice Biennale. The exhibition can be admired from 11 May in the Belgian pavilion, which is populated by twenty dolls. In the central area of ​​the pavilion we see artisans: a knife sharpener, a pizza maker and a troubadour.

The side spaces of the pavilion are closed with grilles. This is where the psychopaths, the madmen and the marginal live. The dolls will perform repetitive movements using mechanisms.  

Harald Thys looks forward to the exhibition with great courage, but also sees a possible pain point. “People like spectacle, so I think they will be intrigued. But at the same time it is also very unspectacular, because those dolls move very clumsy and it soon becomes a kind of dirty repetitive psychosis. I even think repulsive to some, but it is that mixture of some sort of dark humor and repulsive intriguing psychotic looks that is important to us. ”  


The characters that pop up in Jos and Harald's work are almost always people they know. That is also the case for the dolls they create for MONDO CANE. They are all made by 3D printers, which are currently printing continuously. "The printers give us the opportunity to recreate the faces down to the smallest detail," adds de Gruyter, "including the parts that control the mechanics of the dolls. You can print everything and that gives a lot of freedom and possibilities to make things out. You can't get that effect if someone molds the dolls. "  


Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys have been working together for 30 years.
The world they create, be it video, drawings, paintings, photographs or in this case dolls, often revolves around social and psychological pressures that are paralyzing to humans. In this way they create their own unique world and through the simplicity and authenticity of their ideas they have succeeded in fully convincing the Belgian and international art world.


The word says it all: biennale. The Venice World's Fair for Contemporary Art is held every two years. The French-speaking and Flemish communities alternately choose who they want to design the Belgian pavilion. This year, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation chose the artist duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, led by curator Anne-Claire Schmitz. "The Venice Biennale is often considered a" far-from-our-bed show ", an event unrelated to the artistic and human realities of its own country," said Schmitz. "Therefore, after the Biennale, Venice MONDO CANE can still be seen in two places in Belgium, so that the Belgian public that does not go to Venice can also get acquainted with this exhibition.  Sofacq Gallery is the largest collector of Harald Thys and Jos De Gruyter in the world to date.


De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald - Keizer Ro: Het verslag van een staatsgreep in onze gewesten

1993 - Mixed Media


De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald - Maurice De Wilde



De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald - Twee Vagebonden

2013 - 2 Puppets with polystyrene heads, metal skeleton, clothing - Variable dimensions


De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald -

`Die schmutzigen Puppen von Pommern 020

2013 - Sackcloth, hay, straw, fabric - 190 x 70 x 30 cm


De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald - Skeletten

2009 - 9 Black-and-white prints mounted on MDF -

9 x (84 x 119 cm)


De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald - Stellenbosch

2015 - Pencil and watercolour on off-white cardboard in wooden frame - 60 x 80 cm


De Gruyter Jos & Thys Harald - So ist das

2013 - 2 Skeletons, plastic table and chair, parasol, cognac glasses - Variable dimensions