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Review by art curator A. di Martino

An Selen

“Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, all is changing.’’ (PANTA REI Eraclito, 500 b.C.)


It is the principle of Buddhist philosophies by which change is accepted for what it is, not refused, but caught and translated into knowledge and  beauty. These are the dynamic thoughts that overrun the An Selen canvases, artist born in Belgium. On the occasion of this exhibition, the artist offers us three works which, while appearing perceptually all different from each other, are linked by an innate spiritual force. Observing her works, one is always surprised by the multisensory materiality belonging to them, which always provokes new emotions in the viewer. Vibration is the first word that comes to my mind when I look at this first work. Hidden explosion represents a careful chromatic study, result of the use of acrylic colors of various saturation, which are vibrated by archaic signs, light’s traces, symbols of a long time past. The beauty of this painting lies both in the use of warm shades and in the adoption of a purely abstract stylistic construction that, through the use of simple lines, allows us to taste a parallel universe made by memories imbued in the matter and exalted by the final use of the epoxy resin. The question of the exaltation of memory is a broadly addressed issue in the history of art. But what results in this case is the simplicity of signs used by the artist to make the matter alive. This choice reminds me the Olivestone, a work realized by Joseph Beuys who revives the memory of an old stone, used to produce oil in ancient times. The common principle of the two aesthetics brings to the surface what are the traces, thoughts and testimonies of ancient, soaked signs of disarming beauty. The purpose of this ‘’ sign resurrection ‘’ is to revive the material in order to make us participate in a process of exchange between the matter itself and the viewer who, in this time walk, becomes the witness of a new life. Like in a fable the cracks move between them, stretching and moving away, opening a passage ready to welcome our impressions, our thoughts, our souls that imprint their spirit on the matter, giving way to the infinite story. In the work Purple change we find a metamorphosis in progress that, changing its colours and shape, makes the composition’s arrangement in continuous change. The artist works in different stages, in order to respect the time of the work, indulging the evolution of the creative material process and surprising herself with the results. The artist works partly, because she leaves the compositional stage to the matter and to the time, being the main character of the creative process. The pictorial two-dimensionality is extended to the three- dimensionality surrounding environment that, according to the dynamic atmospheric changes on which the canvas stands, will produce brand-new compositional results. In this case the change is suggested by the sentence , that is written in the lower light corner of the picture: ‘’Change when it comes cracks everything open’’. Moreover, the choice of colors is really relevant; purple is the color of transformation, the color of witches’ potions, the color of religion, the color of mystery and the color of the discovery of new universes where the artist would like to lead us, passing the cracks of a surprising journey. The disarming essentiality that triggers the vision of this painting, hides a reading among the signs of time of An Selen’s spiritual thinking. The artist explores her art’s passion from 1999, when she realized her first painting. Stating that she does not consider herself categorized in any specific style, her pure and simple aesthetics remembers the poetics of Poor Art. Considering the work introduced here, we are in front of a white mantle, usually contemplated as the color of the purity of the soul, the color of chastity by the art criticism; the same purity studied by the spiritual path of the artist that focuses on the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi. The delicacy of thought is very in contrast with the materiality of the cracks, that are steeped in history and in ancient memory; the same memory through which the artist tries to create a bridge that carries us to the charming past, to what the artist defines the beauty of simple time. Sailing the white mantle, there is a small red stain that stands out to the eye and that highlights that crack, regarded as an imprint of historical beauty that got lost by during the new age of consumerism. This detail reminds me the artist Giuseppe Penone, who, in Skin of Gold on Acacia Thorns, realizes the imprints of his lips exalted by a little gold fragment placed between them, which leads us (as in the work of An Selen) to the historic time where the beauty was found in the simplicity of little things. It is the Art’s role to overcome the reality’s limits and bring the spectator into the world of imagination.

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