MAY 7 - JUNE 13, 2015
Ghyslaine and Sylvain Staelens make sculpture unlike anyone else in the world of art, trained or untrained. They are untrained. Their work seems steeped in ancient European history, especially from the marginalized viewpoints of mysterious hermits, heretic witches and pilgrims of no obvious religion, with a touch of organic Star Wars thrown in. Much of this has to do with their taking in the lore of the isolated part of volcanic France they chose to live after fleeing the urban madness of Paris.
In their sparsely populated village is an old church dedicated to the Black Virgin, whose roots go back to ancient Portugal. Although the statue of the Virgin is now ensconced in a French museum, the 12th Century church, once a destination point for pilgrims, is still there. The landscape has absorbed the mystery and vitality of those earlier days, as the Staelens have absorbed the landscape into their process, making tough and poetic sculpture from materials they gather and recycle.
Their sculptures come from the forest. They do not tell us who or what they are, they do not give away any information other than what is told by the pieces themselves; by the hooded garments they wear, the spears they carry and the composure of their bodies, and the basic materials—exposed lava, metal, stones, wires and textiles--in surprising variety and complexity. Some of them are mounted, half horse, half-human.
The sculptures appear as beings that have made their homes in a real forest, in a cultural dance between dimensions, they will decide if you can enter; if they choose you, they will protect you forever. Though medieval at first glance, they are very much in the present. Nothing ever looked like them. They own whatever space they guard. They protect integrity.