Page 13 - Anne book

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contains 75 works of art by Vilsbøll. A few are prints, but
these have specifcally been conceived to punctuate intervals
that can accommodate repeated images. Otherwise, the main
reception areas are treated to large scale murals, each one
addressing the theme of water in a different manner. Thus
does the artist bring order and beauty to space which would
otherwise be neutral and sterile.
For all her ability in working with public space, we must not
overlook Anne Vilsbøll’s more intimate pieces. Indeed, they
emerge from the same creative wellsprings as her large-scale
productions. Intuition and sensibility permeate all of her
works in drawing room formats - we would avoid calling them
paintings, knowing that many of them contain no paint at
all, were it not that they are always mounted on canvas for
exhibition. Earlier, we stated that photographs are unable to
provide suffcient information for the eye to understand the
surface of the works. This is not because the surface of the
work cannot be captured by the camera lens; rather because
Vilsbøll’s surface is never limited to the superfcial. The
paintings are built up from the inside. Vilsbøll makes paper
from natural fbers. She might use paper pulp to draw motifs
or pigments to create color forms. She might make the paper
with textures or watermarks. In any case she has at her
disposal a repertoire of ways and means to create colorful
mostly abstract imagery that is not limited to what she can
mark upon the pictorial surface. An example can be found
in “News Eaters”, where the sheet of paper functions as a
refracting factor, or “Banc de Fretar”, inspired by a tool at
the El Molino paper mill in Capellades, Spain, or one of
her artist books “Vice Versa”, which cleverly reconsiders the
interaction between sheet and sign.
In most of Vilsbøll’s paintings, the colors are bright and
energetic, even the cold tones in her several blue series.
This energy comes from within, literally. It is the technique
of building the painting from within that provides pictorial
excitement. Consider the 1999 series “Orange”, in which
tremendous opticality is created through the discriminating
manipulation of papermaking technology: the ability to
modulate saturation-transparency, shiny-matte, dark-light,
contrast, hue without dilution, mixing, spreading and other
problems that come up in working with paint on canvas. This
is what it means to master a medium.
Vilsbøll’s qualities are not merely technical. We mentioned
intuition and sensibility; let us not forget generosity. Every
year quantity of works emerge from the studio. There is
not space enough to detail it all. Let us willingly omit the
recent work so inspired by a whole new world which is India,
and which promises to be as rich and multiple as any Shiva
goddess, and rather conclude this survey by commenting on
fnished works which will not make the critic’s words obsolete
as they evolve. Thus, we refer to several series whose titles are
more allusive than is usual in Vilsbøll’s nomenclature. None
can properly be called homage, but the titles call attention to
two creative spirits who deserve respect: Georgia O’Keeffe
and Karen Blixen. Both are women, one a painter, the other
a writer, and both led merry lives before doing their best work
at a mature age. Vilsbøll honored the visual artist in “Conver-
sation with Georgia O’Keeffe” in 1995, and “Sharing a
Papaya with Georgia O’Keeffe” in 1998. Karen Blixen,
better known under her nom de plume of Isaac Dinesen
inspired Vilsbøll to such groups of works as “Between the
Lines” 1997, “The Mysterious Writer” 1997, “La Lionne”
1997. The painter in New Mexico and the Danish writer
have in common an interest in universals: both searched for
timeless images to depict or discuss. But O’Keeffe’s modernist
research into form is a far cry from Dinesen’s pursuit of
archetypal plots. What Vilsbøll seems to admire in both of
them, and to emulate in her own work, is their dignifed
persistence and their commitment to elegance. They were
creative spirits who embraced maturity. This is no small
compliment for it means consciousness and awareness of
one’s limitations. For an artist, it means most of all assuming
choice. It is clear when one looks at almost 30 years of Anne
Vilsbøll’s art that she has made the right choices.