BRAVE new old WORLD, Gabriella Cleuren, 2007


Gabriella Cleuren


These works are collected images, garnered from a very recent present, that of the 21st century.

They are highly current, and at the same time very old. For what concerns their content, they belong with Goya, going back 200 years. A comparison is inescapable, and frightening. What exactly is it that man has learned from the past? How far has his evolution carried him forward? What measure his advancement? Is he turning into a state of ‘being human’ perforce, as Nietzsche calls it? Or does he invariably revert to the animal state when conditions are ripe for it. These images are witnesses to the fact.

We may well ask ourselves the question if, maybe, it is only via the scientific technical route that man can truly achieve the state of being human!

The technique is a free form and meant to explain time as well as express man’s disfigurement.

Prof. Dr. Bart Vandenabeele of the University of Ghent, an instructor in the philosophy of Art, has dedicated an essay to this work entitled :‘Chromatic Wars’.

According to him, it is the images of horror, hardship, deprivation that speak to us through the subject matter, that can be sensed and felt, images of terror.

In spite of the content, Art is for Art’s sake only. The work is like the timbre of a musical instrument.
Instead of Art holding up a mirror of Reality to our eyes, this Art rends asunder our way of seeing, acting, feeling and experiencing Reality. According to the Professor, Cleuren succeeds in this through her iconoclasm, her annihilation of clichés, through the ongoing progress of alienation. In this way, the images are being given new context. This Art is the Art of disturbance, fracture, of interpellations and disruptions.

The work confronts us with the flesh of the world, as Merleau Ponty called it. Material as the invisible skin of things.
We hardly experience a warm fuzzy feeling when we look at Cleuren’s oeuvre. We begin to distrust our environment, and people become unpredictable and alien to us. Cleuren’s art manages to arouse these sentiments in a tangible way.

Gabriëlla Cleuren 27/04/2020

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