Whitehouse Gallery Brussels
Chaussée de Charleroi, 54

Fleshy pink, a murmur in blues

An overarching theme in Simona Mihaela Stoia’s practice is the loss of, and desire for, a connection between humans and nature. What we see is a combination of paint applied in layers and thick masses of paint applied straight from the tube. Parts of the work are almost sculptural. Her method reminds us of a sculptor modelling clay: the image appears through a combination of technical, rational gestures of the artist and the matter itself guiding the way. The image appears through adding and also removing matter. The seemingly thinner, negative spaces in the image actually contain many layers of paint, which she removes with a palette knife. Some things may reveal themselves by the act of deconstructing.

Between that layered transparency and accumulated masses of paint emerge dimensions of suggestion. The origin of her images is also ambiguous: she allows herself to be informed by all the impressions she absorbs. Through sensory perception and memory, she gives her subconscious free rein while painting. And that’s how the viewer’s imagination is triggered in its own right. Do we recognize vegetation, trees, parts of a (animal) body, a skin? In Stoia's most recent works the horizon, the landscape and especially the shapes of clouds play an important role. What interests her, however, is an atmosphere, an environment, rather than a figurative landscape. The image never fully reveals itself.

Anton Cotteleer's sculptures have origins in old family photos, bearing real or imagined memories. As a sculptor, he wonders how the blur of certain isolated fragments (a small object in the background, a modest gesture in a corner) can translate into a third dimension. Their vagueness obstructs a clear understanding of the image, but activates the imagination. A memory, like a photograph, often contains noise; details we do not see so clearly before our mind's eye. Cotteleer gives this blur free rein in his own working process, as he models and molds not by perception, but by the memory of perception. On the fluid frontier between memory and imagination, fragments of bodies and objects fuse together to form sculptures.

Besides materials such as resin, terracotta and textiles, occasionally an object from his studio also sneaks directly into the work. This results in alienating sculptures that refer to functional objects and daily, domestic life. Some sculptures have a soft skin, made by electrostatically applied fibers. The contours of the sculpture become softer, less defined, and thus in a way more human. The suggestion of skin also implies a certain sensuality, which he explores further in recent works, for instance by isolating the skin as an object in itself.

The title Fleshy pink, a murmur in blues poetically captures the way the very different practices of Simona Mihaela Stoia and Anton Cotteleer meet: in the importance of body and skin, in the softness of pastel hues, in the power of suggestion and in the noise between memory, reverie and delirium.

Tamara Beheydt

Some fragments in this text refer to previous texts by the same author.

Chaussée de Charleroi, 54 1060 Brussels
+32 473 391 478
Opening April 20,2024
Open Thu,Fri,Sat 1-6 PM