The first thing you meet as you come in is a wall of coloured bricks. Even though made of glass, and thus fragile, they’ve been stacked as if to create a bulwart. They are the work of Maria Roosen (1957), a Dutch artist who handles a variety of media – glass, knitted wool or watercolour – with equal dexterity. After graduating in 1981 from the challenging Moller Instituut in Tilburg, she joined the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Arnhem where a multidisciplinary approach allows art students to get down to business without further ado.
Here, a long bunch of redcurrants entitled Berries looks like a cluster of voluptuous breasts. There, penises in a pretty pink vase create a kind of glass bouquet. Still in this palette of tangy pinks, we discover several female glass heads, with strangely shaped hairdoes. Placed on a stool, another bunch of phalluses, this one made from knitted wool. Further on, we see something that looks like Medusa’s snake headdress. And then it’s the body which is represented in those powerful watercolours, which can easily be linked to the works of Louise Bourgeois, currently on display at the Hufkens gallery. Maria Roosen captures the human body in all kinds of ways.
We find other cheerful glass objects, this coloured egg shape, modestly placed on a broom like a fig leaf, for instance. Or these bright green shapes, trapped between two uprights of a wooden pallet.
Roosen gives us to see a rich, radiant and fertile world. The bodies she shows us are full and present, with a life of their own. The breasts are full and round, and the phalluses erect. All are bursting with life. Despite having been made from inert materials such as glass, wool, paper, or wood, they all seem to have been touched by a magic wand, wielded by an artist who effortlessly channels a life stream into everything that she touches.
The glass building block or mushroom, the tree trunk wrapped in knitting, the drawing or the watercolour, the pink glass bust figure, all exude a deeply intimate and feminine poetry. Still today, Maria Roosen’s life is influenced by the sudden and tragic death of her partner when she was 37 years old. Faced with the raw pain, anguish, and sudden loneliness of this tragedy, the artist has immersed herself in her work, turning it into a form of catharsis. Her will to emerge from this darkness, to once again touch the shores of life, and push her sorrows away, to feel fully alive, with her blood pumping through her veins, all these feelings are part of her work. Each visitor will feel the life flowing through the veins, the beating heart, and the flexed muscles in each of the artist’s works. A pleasurable discovery!
Fruits of love
Roberto Polo Gallery
8 – 12 rue Lebeau
Until 15 November
Tuesdays-Fridays, from 14:00 and 18:00; Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 18:00