'The most sensational surprise was the sudden discovery, one day, that my pictures, for the first time in history, had become walls.'
A Report on the Wall, Antoni Tàpies
Agnès Biro and Shendy Gardin have curated a nostalgic and atmospheric homage to poet and translator Christine D’haen in a brief three day expo which I managed to see on Sunday 19th. ‘A moment in time’, initiates a dialogue between contemporary art and the unrestored rooms of this elegant 18th century house which was once the writer's former home. Walls, windows and doors provided a series of evocative frames and multi-layered surfaces of changing light and muted colours of exquisite subtlety, which entered into correspondence with the individual works of art by several artists including a grainy slide projection 'Seine' by Klara Lidén, a monoprint 'found' postcard by Tacita Dean, and Berlinde de Bruyckere's hanging wax, epoxy, iron and string sculpture, 'Romeu' my deer, 1V
Time was made visible in the laid bare anatomy of the building structure and the archeology of the surface of the wall itself, with traces of re-plastering, re-papering and re-painting, aging, fading, staining, cracking, peeling. This exhibition is in a sense an exercise in ‘arte povera’ and a kind of 'memento mori', made from the accumulated traces of life itself, an ‘after image’ of something fugitive; desire and loss, presence and absence, fullness and emptiness. In attempting to capture and freeze a ‘moment in time', even as it escapes our grasp, the curators and artists have evoked an imagined past in the tangible present. Through the poetics of light and space, the aesthetics of silence and stillness, and the articulation of individual contemporary works of art in dialogue with each room, the house and its ‘memory’ of the art and life of a writer is experienced with a new emotional force in the mind and perception of the viewer.
The evocation of both presence and absence in the fragmented or deleted 'image', the use of muted colours, light and shadow, and the traces of time in the faded, stained, torn and damaged paper surfaces and the trompe l'oeil ambiguity of boundaries, of where the image ends and the frame begins, are all elements I have tried to explore in my own small scale paintings below and in the links.