“Indecently beautiful or even beautifully indecent. My quest is for this paradox, this tension” says Hanneke Giezen. In our Western societies, those words rouse a tension, a tension that the six artists presented in this exhibition share in their own, peculiar and - to some - disturbing approach of figurines.
Hanneke Giezen's work with its vegetal extravaganza seeks indeed to push the limits of good taste, hovering on the edges of acceptability, technically as well as aesthetically. She wants us to see beauty in her indecently swarming and preposterous figures.
The Belgian Clémence Van Lunen worked in many countries, but got particularly inspired by the porcelain tradition of Jingdezhen in China , especially the Chinese long-standing tradition of imitation. Over the years, Clémence Van Lunen has thus developed an opus of rare objects – directly or allusively organic and sensual. Their identification remains deliberately vague, intended to delight as much as to alarm, insofar as they constantly seek to unsettle us.
The Danish Gitte Jungersen brings us underhandedly to childhood in her mysterious landscapes. These landscapes were earlier left unpopulated, but recently Gitte Jungersen has introduced alien inhabitants to them. She joins ready-made objects, often innocent toys, to her undefined bubbling, coloured and brilliant mass. The interaction between the vigorous glaze and the found figures brings us back to everyone's long ago and unspoken past.
Talking about bubbles, one cannot resist seeing in Steen Ipsen's clinical press-moulded forms luscious organs. Or is it an oozing mass of candy? The monochrome glaze, without any visible prints of the artist, reflects the light and mirrors the beholder and his/her surroundings. The energy of the objects is held back by the strings, which paradoxically increase the energy even more. The tied-up human forms and lines, combined with the clinical expression, exude eroticism and sensuality.
At first glance the porcelain figurines of the Danish artist Louise Hindsgavl look pretty and harmless. But if you look closer, you see that these classical figurines are in fact bizarre and surrealistic creatures engaged in strange and perverse relationships. Under their white, delicate and neat skin they emanate violence, mutilation, obscenity and dark humour. Everything is turned upside down. Class differences are momentarily abolished and repressed sexual energies are let loose.
In the work of Belgian artist Marieke Pauwels another sensuality is at stake. Death is at the core of her sculptures. What could be more indecent? She says: “ In my work, I reinterpret folk cultures and their traditions to preserve the vulnerability of all that is lost.” Bones, teeth, hunting trophies, skulls, all petrified in clay and often coupled with stuffed birds, roots, feathers.
All these artists shed a ray of light on human nature and the soul, telling us that figurines can reflect more than flesh and bones. So much more. They can be dark, twisted, sensual, regressive, organic, luscious, joyful, humorous sides of ours, far away from ratio, education and sociability.
Do you dare to see the beauty of them? Even love them?