NEW GLASSWORKS 2017-2022
TRACES ON TRANSPARENCY
An artist who wants to work with glass must be prepared to enter a world of artistic paradox.
Glass is a fragile material. At the same time it is hard, inflexible, difficult to handle, awkward to transport, delicate to clean, easily scratched, not really weatherproof, dangerous to our skin, very unpopular with insurance agents, and, for obvious reasons, an irresistible invitation to every kind of contemporary iconoclast.
Glass is an indispensable part of our everyday life. We are so used to its presence as to hardly notice it. Our associations are practical or artisanal: windows and drinking glasses, flower vases and chandeliers, looking glasses and church windows blur our perception of the artistic value of raw, unprocessed industrial glass.
Glass is never constant and its effects impossible to assess in advance. Its transparency is of a passive order : it does not hide anything, but it does not show anything either. The esthetical power of glass is mostly dictated by exterior components : the alternation of light and shadow, the flow of water and air and patterns of reflection and distortion fill its transparency with images, registered with utmost precision, but at the same time in continuous transformation.
Glass is the receptacle of its surrounding world, absorbing, converting and reproducing its images according to optical law. Images may vary from lifelike reproduction to pure abstraction, from light-designed lines and silhouettes to meticulous mirror images. Its changing reflections call for a certain flexibility on the part of the observer. An artwork that changes at every movement of the viewer or its environment from transparency to haze, from reflection to blindness, from movement to stillness, from light to dark, from foreground to background and from monochrome to play of colours can never be reduced to a definite image.
Spectacular effects are neither offered nor sought for by the artist; artisanal perfection even less. The combination of glass with « hard matter » - iron bars, wooden beams, steel wire, as for the «Tryade» or the «Improvisation of Saint Jean» - accentuates the duality of fragility and force characteristic of glass texture. The re-working of the supporting glass pane by painterly mediums is inspired by reverse glass painting («Hinterglasmalerei»), a medium invented by Austrian devotional artists at the beginning of the 19th century. If the style and the subject of these paintings are not relevant to contemporary art, its technical elements can usefully be copied for abstract or conceptual work, as in the « Koda » installations, the « Solaris » paintings or the «Glass Library». But as the painted glass is still subject to exterior influences like light and reflections, the osmosis of painting and environment continually creates new works altogether.
These multifaceted transformations of the glass-imago, whose complexity can only be recorded indirectly by video or serial photography, make the fascination of the glass medium. Neither technical nor philosophical interpretation can capture its unique nature. Finding the words to describe the metamorphosis of transparency must be left to the poet.
Leon Taveling, 2003
NEW GLASSWORKS 2017 - 22
In 2017, the artist started working on a series of reverse glass paintings, revisiting the glass sculptures and installations she created between 1997 and 2003 and drawing on the technical experience she acquired during that period.
GW17/18 (solitary wave) 2021 mixed media/plexiglass on wood 136x272x8cm Installation in the City Hall de Zurzach, Switzerland
GW17/19 (dervish) 2021 mixed media/collage/plexiglass on wood 136x136x8cm
GW17/20 (viewfinder) 2022 mixed media/collage/plexiglass on wood 136x145x8cm
OBSIDIAN – on the Volcanoes in the Moon
The obsidian studies are preliminary drafts of a project called «On the Volcanoes in the Moon», inspired by an exposé by Immanuel Kant («Über die Vulkane im Monde», 1783), speculating about the possible existence of volcanoes in the moon, after the discovery of mooncraters by the astronomer Wilhelm Herschel.
Obsidian is black volcanic glass formed from rapidly cooled lava. It is also called black glass and at a time was used for the manufactering of black «magical» mirrors. The mythical quality of black glass has always fascinated me and I have repeatedly used it in my wallsculptures, but never to this dominating extend.
Obsidian got named after a Roman explorer called Obsidius who discovered the stone during his travels in Aethiopia. For this reason, it has a connotation of colonialisme. Which is why I deliberately use this name and not the more romantic «Dragon Glass» or «Ravensbrain» of the Islandic saga. At a time when the woke movement has only started to critically analyze the often dramatic consequences of intercontinental colonialisme, our technocratic masterminds, in the same autistic spirit as their imperialistic forebears, are already preparing the colonialisation of the moon and other planets, without giving a thought to the havoc that the human invaders are going to wreak this time round....
GW17/23 (study for obsidian) 2022 mixed media/collage/plexiglass 80x100x5cm
GW17/24 (study for obsidian) 2022 mixed media/collage/plexiglass 80x100x5cm
GW17/25 (study for obsidian) 2022 mixed media/collage/plexiglass 80x100x5cm
GW17/22 (trailblazer) 2021 mixed media/collage/plexiglass on wood
Solaris 4 (detail) 2018 mixed media/collage/glass on wood 200x60x8cm (private collection)
Solaris 8 2018 mixed media/collage/glass on wood 200x60x8cm (private collection)
Solaris 10 2018 mioxed media/collage/glass 150x150x7cm (private collection)
Solaris 5 2018 mixed media/collage/glass on wood (Private collection)
GLASSWORKS Installation view (Solaris 11 + GW17/12) 2018
Solaris 1 2017 mixed media/collage/plexiglass on wood 80x100x5cm (private collection)
Solaris 2 2017 mixed media/collage/plexiglass on wood 80x100x5cm (private collection)