Compacted humanity Expoflits #33 2020
Frederic De Meyer, Editor in chief “The Art Couch Magazine “
Sunday 30 August sees the opening of a solo exhibition of new work by German-Belgian Ulrike Bolenz at HUSK Gallery in the Rivoli building. I have been following her work for a while now, so it was high time for a visit to her studio. However, one monumental work grabbed my attention. An impression:
I am standing in her studio, in front of one of her latest works.
A disconcerting sensation. Dark, deep, frivolous. Without a guidebook you get lost in it, with her verbal instructions you get absorbed in it. Barbed wire, wrapped in a strange, distant but intimate embrace with two feathers. Confinement and freedom side by side. Dripping threads that descend, like roots, gasping for breath. For the underlying reality of things. Chunks of wax here and there, deceptively haphazard, adding flesh and substance to the scene. Pieces sometimes seem to be stitched together, as if to hide scars. Or to heal.
Furthermore, no matter how close or far I stood from the work, I first saw spots. But she pointed out the globe, subtly at the edges of the scene, and the even more subtly human body to the left of the work. Then, using other work as examples, she pointed out the major themes in her oeuvre, which seem to have been summarised in this one work.
A painting, you would think at first glance. That would dishonour it. Too many elements jump directly at you for that, as if they were reaching out to your attention, to your senses, to your emotions and intellect. I cannot call it anything else but a spectacle, an immobile but living stage in which all the dramas of human life, personal and universal, are contained.
When, as a human being or, I imagine, in any other form of life, you stand before it, from near or far, you inevitably expose yourself to a tsunami of complex, contradictory emotions. You recognise here the barbaric horror of human struggle, there the softness of everyday, natural beauty. They are not even presented separately, they don't have to be, because they are interwoven, twisted is perhaps a better image. For never do you feel completely at ease when looking. Looking is therefore never 'finished'. However long you look, you intuitively feel that there is more and more to it, that the story behind it is becoming more and more complex, more and more elusive, instead of revealing itself as you watch. Perhaps this feeling grows in direct proportion to the time you spend in front of it. I didn't calculate it, I just let myself go. Swept away in an uncontrollable, ever-deepening stream of emotions.
Then she revealed the title of the work: Der ewige mensch.
We couldn’t say it more accurately. A visual epiphany.