À la recherche du sens de l’existence
What does it mean to exist? How do you exist? Do you have a reason?
In the film At Eternity’s Gate/created by Julian Scnabel, the actor Willem Dafoe, playing Vincent van Gogh, says: Existence cannot be without a reason.
Whether Vincent van Gogh actually expressed this sentence or not – it strikes a chord in me. Existence has to do with being alive – with being.
Since the early seventies the French philosopher Henri Bergson’s theories on duration, a theory on consciousness and time, understood as free will, pure mobility, has been my guide line. Duration can only be grasped through intuition, getting back to the things themselves and experience without our habitual, utilitarian thinking. Inner duration cannot be divided. It is in possession of quality and not just quantifiable. Unlike every second of time, units of time, duration never meets two moments the same in its unfolding succession. Our power of intuition is our most powerful source for obtaining true knowledge. Even though life is meant to be lived and maybe never quite known, the existential moments of duration experiencing intuition is what guides my work in an attempt to express the grasp of a moment, which will never be the same anymore in its unfolding succession. To me existence finds a reason in the creating act, where I experience duration.
The Danish artist Anne Vilsboell’s exhibition at Galeri Beddington in the summer of 2019 shows selected painted moments that the artist wishes to communicate with the viewer.
Along the walls – in the interval
Along the Walls – in the interval is a fascination of the organic and artistic Dogon community, which under historical pressure created defensive positions; the relationship between the subject and the world and the influence a country’s culture has on the observer’s experiences.
“As a 27 year old I studied Visual Communication. We were given the task of choosing a space we wanted to work with. I chose interval. In the work process that followed, I studied organic architecture and described a.o. the settlements of the Dogon people in the rocky mountain territory of the West African state of Mali. Their settlements were built between the sandy cliffs of the Bandiagara massif in an impassable terrain.
The Dogon migration in this region had a historical justification: The Dogon people were forced to seek remote settlements from around 1400 AD because they refused to convert to Islam.
They constructed vertical mud brick structures stacked on the impermeable rock surfaces, so the architecture almost disappeared in the space. The settlements and individual houses reflect the human body. Their masks express universal vitality, and their tree-lined ladders are created for spirits so that these can climb to the roof terrace’s altar.
Migration always has and still has historical reasons. Where and how can people settle in association with nature today?”
Geographical colours – geografiske farver
In her work at the present exhibition at Gallery Roedhusgaarden Anne Vilsboell is focusing on which influence a country’s culture has on the experience of the viewer, the relationship between subject and the world, a recurrent theme in her artistic praxis since many years. In beginning of the 80’es Anne Vilsboell wrote: The surroundings have colours, the colours of the animals are the colours of the surroundings, the animals protect themselves with the colours of the surroundings, human beings do the same. Every geographical place creates its own socio-cultural contexts in its use of colour according to its geology, climate and light. When we live in the middle of our own cultures’ colours, we do not often notice these, because they are natural part of ourselves – they are ourselves. When a culture is new to oneself, one sees the colours. Colours change, move and live defining the identity of a place. The exhibition Geographical colours – geografiske farver contain two geographical places – two localities, France and Mexico, where the handmade paper has absorbed the colours of the surroundings. The work expresses at the same time a dreamlike being, which is described best as follows: In seven small novels published between 1950 – 56 the author C.S. Lewis writes about the place Narnia. A world visited at special occasions by selected children. On arrives to this country through a back door in a wardrobe on the attic. Through the door one steps out into a very quiet forest, filled with ponds. If one jumps into a pond with a yellow ring, one experiences the strangest things. The girl Polly asks Diggy, whether the forest is one of the worlds one can travel to and Diggy answers: No, I do not think this forest is a world at all. I think it is just a kind of place in between. The forest is a place, which is not part of any of the worlds, but it gives you access to many worlds. This is why there is so dreamlike in the forest in between. To be able to jump into the yellow pond in the forest in between and to able to travel to other worlds have been a constant in Anne Vilsboell’s life. It is there, she sees and absorbs colours.
TETRIS is a puzzle, video game, where all the pieces of the game contain 4 segments. The word tetris is derived from the Greek numerical prefix tetra, meaning creating elements of tettares/tessares = four.
For more than 30 years, Anne Vilsbøll has built the foundation for her paintings of handmade paper, made in squares and rectangles, which, by virtue of cellulose, “bind” into large areas.
This exhibition focuses on the square – the squares of the underlying base and the intersection of the overlying squares with the foundation. The foundation of invisible fibers is induced in color to create a haptically bright presence, a haptic geology of fibers and color.
The inspiration for Anne Vilsboell’s paintings is a reflexion on the life of lithography – to draw inverted details on limestone, where after these drawings are cleaned, washed out, flushed and rolled in, before the drawing meets the paper.
The Light Palette
The current exhibition, The Light Palette, shows Anne Vilsbøll’s latest work in which light, colour and the underlying handmade sheets give the paintings a floating, dreamy, tactile presence, one cannot really find the words to express.
The light is refracted in the surface of the painting and becomes textural in a bright uplifting colour presence, in which one can breathe. They are paintings transcending borders in their own silent way.
Being somewhere else, being in foreign lands outside one’s own country, not being present there – where you come from, but far away, is the starting point for Anne Vilsbøll’s new works, which will be exhibited at Galleri Rødhusgården from 9th September. 2016. It is not just about physical absence, but about coexistence of nothingness and generosity, the meaningless and meaningful, emptiness and abundance, nature and man-made, combinations of occasional incompatible elements, where the flow of thoughts, words and impressions are captured in the space of the paintings and leave associations open to multiple and layered interpretations. In December 2015, Anne Vilsbøll stayed at a place in India named Elsewhere. This place and it’s surroundings gave this exhibition its title. Anne Vilsbøll’s approach to art is based on a deep interest in internal waves in the foundation and the sign in visual communication. For her foundation and sign have equal importance in the final work, which more than three decades ago, led her to handmade paper, its history and formal characteristics as a means of artistic expression. Her works are created through continuous studies that lead to a personal expression in constant development – a work that is visually harmonious and perceptual with tactile and contextual aspects. The action lines she follows cannot be categorized under one or more direction. A traveller in the world constantly influenced by new surroundings, knowledge of the long art history of the West and the East, with studios in France and India, she absorbs her surroundings as paper absorbs colour. All her works have an intrinsic meaning that brings the attentive viewer into and beyond the actual space of painting. To process all her surfaces into works she experiences as a digestive process from deconstruction to construction; the internal waves in the space of the paper as an invisible text, a collision of unknown territories, a secret language which she uses to engage in the woven structure of which the world is constructed. No two sheets of paper are the same. This has an influence on her art. Extracts, underlying layers, what is left when you have seen and not just looked, are drawn in the final expression moving in the interval between what was and what remains within us in an attempt to bring us back to a common consciousness.
Colour – from my Butterfly Collection
Colour and paper are where the brain and the universe meet.
Colour is like breathing.
From Surface to Air
Paper as an interval between earth and sky – a surface created from nature – a possibility to create a new world
“They catch clay in the river – they pour clay on straw mats – they form figures of straw. Layers of clay and straw are laid around the straw model. One person modifies fingers in clay – another one faces and yet another one bodies. The bodies are assembled into human or animal like sculptures. A fourth person paints the figures in strong colors after the sculptures have been dried in the sun. The figures are not burned. Wherever you go and turn around, everyone is creating up to 3 m high clay figures that pile up in the small alleys. They fabricate idols for customers all over the world. The idols are carried in procession and thrown into the river as sacrifices to the goddess Durga. Each year the process is repeated – a continuous circle of construction and deconstruction- an act of worship that is replaced by another one the next year. A religious ceremony that reflects man’s urge to worship, to hope and to have somebody to look up to. The process is not far from the 21st century’s worship of stars – the star is very quickly replaced by another. ”(Excerpt from Anne Vilsboell diary India, March 2012) Anne Vilsboell’s new paintings are inspired by her visit to Kolkata’s clay quarter – Kumar Tuli – where approx.150 families work with idols. The area originally grew out of 3 small villages in 1690, to which people emigrated. They live today in Sutanooti in the north of Kolkata. p Vilsboell’s paintings, in strong red, blue, yellow and orange colours, appear as assembled fragments in abstract compositions. In the compositions, one is aware of constructs which, under consideration, change over and over again to become yet other form. Shapes that speak in a metaphysical language in constant change.
Everything we see is in constant motion. Nothing is permanent – biologically we are a stream of cells.
Biologists have observed that imaginary cells are formed in a butterfly larva. The cells gradually organize themselves into the larva and create a completely new and different organism on the basis of the material from which the larva was originally formed. The larva’s original cells attempt to attack the imaginary cells they experience as enemies. But the imaginary cells grow more and more numerous to eventually form the anatomical cells of the butterfly.
Being one of the first imaginary cells can be a painful experience. They risk being eaten up. Because they have the ability to connect with other imaginary cells, they become more and more and therefore impossible to kill.
Mankind can do exactly the same as the imaginary cells in the butterfly larva: get wings and be able to fly and inspire others!
Working with handmade paper as an artistic means of expression is a work containing the connection of cells and the ability to absorb in order to create a new vibrant tactility.
The Oxide World
Creating paper is a circular act. Anne Vilsboell’s new work we experience precisely the circular shape as the predominant, where structure, format, the interrelationship of the inner forms, generated by the outer in vibrating strong colours. The new work focuses on the relationship between the invisible and the visible, the materiality, volume, shape and colour of the painting with tactile quality. Anne Vilsboell’s art requires immersion and observance of details. The rhythm of lines and depth, glow of the colours, blue in blue, yellow in yellow…. Not only does Vilsboell produce her own paper for each painting, but she also mixes her own pigments, including oxides and ultramarine – she paints until the painting is just right! The work contains a silence that originates from a mind that rests in itself. Aura-like paintings that have an effect on the observer who takes time to see. If you observe, you will feel colour.
Anne Vilsbøll’s adaptation of the bull motif, which balances on the border between figuration and abstraction, portrays the bull’s dual fate as an object of worship in the East and entertainment object in the West.
She creates the paper for her paintings, which adds to them a particularly coarse, vibrant structure. Her intense work with paper is rooted in the belief that what the artist paints on is as important as what is painted. The saturated colour fields, in combination with the texture of the paper, give her work a special rhythmic variation, which seems to detach the partially abstract motifs from their canvases and let them do their own work in space.
The Epiphytic Lichen Series
The word epiphytic: from Graesk: epi: on / phyton: plant
The Epiphytic Lichen Series, with its title and subject, refers to epiphytic lichen, which has no roots but can grow where no other plants grow. The fungus is not a parasite. Fungus and algae form a common growth in the form of corals that have incorporated photosynthetic algae into their bodies and reduce CO2 to sugar to the benefit of both organisms. It is a symbiosis, where the symbians get water and minerals from rain, tar and dust. The fungus has a larger catch area than the algae itself and protects the algae by keeping on the water. Mutualistic symbiosis plays a major role in ecology and is vital for ecosystems. 48% of land plants depend on mycorrhizal conditions with fungi to be provided with inorganic components.
Epiphytic layer is incorporated partly as a component of the actual surface of the paintings themselves, as well as a compositional element in itself. Thus, it is a direct expression of symbiosis, since the surface of painting is handmade paper sheets containing geographical, biological and aesthetic aspects. Layers, fibers and water have an influence on the final character of the painting, which relates to what a symbiosis contains. Pigments, photos and pyrogravure form part of a dialogue with the basic substance of the painting, and the final expression appears as a conceptual statement about mutualistic symbiosis.
Response to the Present
Response to the Present is a unique series of editions created by the Danish artist Anne Vilsbøll, along with with Peter Wilms, Art & Design Development, and his staff in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India in Oct. 2015.
Created using mixed media production including repaired chilli bags, bought in the slum, burnt cotton, kozo fiber, white clay, pigments, spray, painting and silkscreen, the series obtains the highly textured, tactile quality and colour dynamics characteristic of Anne Vilsbøll’s work.
These techniques form a completely new way of working with editions. The compositions are neither realistic nor abstract, but move in a dreamlike, surrealistic sphere, reflecting a contemporary, nebulous spirit to which we can all relate but perhaps cannot describe. By obscuring the details, the figures are universalized and revealed only as intensity.
Response to the Present contains 15 yellow, 15 blue and 15 red works – each 98 x 116 cm.
Les Doyens et Les Doyennes en Provence
An installation created as a communication between 30 portraits of people 80 – 100 years old. A video “LA VOIX A” is projected in intervals on and in between the portraits.
The aim is to illustrate that we all have our ancestors inside us. In biological terms mimicry is about animals protecting themselves with colours of their surroundings – human beings do the same:” The surroundings have colour, the colour of animals is the colour of their surroundings, animals protect themselves with the colour of their surrounding, human beings do the same.”(text written in 1982), Nature of “old age” is universal – experience and stigma is individual and culturally anchored.
With a fundament of her own produced paper Anne Vilsboell creates life – size portraits with tactile quality. She captures the personality of human bodies in a highly sensitive manner. One observes and feels lived life, bodies penetrated by their surroundings in absorbance.
Hommage a un poete
Paintings developed from listening to the poetry/songs by Charles Trenet – will be exhibitied in connection with Printemps des Poetes, Sct. Paul de Vence, France, 2013
In connection with the project “Papir set Påny/ Paper Revisioned” for The Art Centre Silkeborg Spa I collaborated with Indian miniature painters in Udaipur,Rajasthan, India. In a dual role of both curator and exhibitor, I decided to involve other artists in my own project. The original function of the Art Centre SilkeborgSpa as a hydra-sanatorium was used as the point of departure for the project “Welcome to the Water Palace”, which revolves around the images and associations that water may conjure up. Everything consists of water – water ties the globe and living beings together. Water brings life – without water, we could not exist. Good stories, folk tales, fantastic epics have always fascinated me. Fairy tales inhabit a world of their own and the life that unfolds in them is governed by the supernatural and poetic laws of nature. Throughout India’s cultural history, there has been an ongoing interaction between various religious, linguistic and social groups and this has resulted in a rich, material mythology that can rival European cultural history both with regard to breadth and diversity. A huge amount of tales have been preserved in regional Indian languages, but the more popular myths have reached larger circulation by entering the superregional language Sanskrit and by compilation into epic tales dating back as far as to the 4th century. Basic to the rich diversity of myths is the central theme of tension between creation and destruction. characteristic to the Indian way of thinking is the process during which order is established in chaos and the universe is dissolved into chaos, all a part of an immense cyclical pattern. Another basic theme is that things are not what they appear to be. Therefore any reality is illusory. Working with paintings in which paper casting as a material is in itself a symbol of establishing order in chaos – a constant change between destruction and creation. I experienced my own fundamental work process reflected in the Indian thought of cyclical patterns. The idea of co-operating with Indian miniature painters began to take shape in January 2000, when I decided to travel to Udaipur, Rajasthan, in October that year to make plans for a working process. The idea or intention was that my stories about water and the images that I associate with water should be passed on to a group of artists who would then make sketches for miniature paintings on the basis of these stories. The paintings were to form an ornament-like process stretching across two large friezes. The friezes were to be assembled making associations to tile-clad bathing rooms that would be created by small rectangular canvasses with vacuum pressed elements attached to them. Since one of the characteristics of miniature paintings is a delicately detailed border around the paintings, the two friezes were to have similar borders made of vacuum pressed saris mounted on canvas. The miniatures were to form part of a huge landscape constructed from vacuum pressed, handmade paper made, alternately, from Indian saris and Daphne fibres as well as paper found in old Indian account books – kagzi paper. Elements from the saris would be floating in the landscape like particles in water. (The project was purchased by Silkeborg city and is at the Silkeborg Theatre – and Music House)