Introductions roses (Stèle)
Beechwood, cotton percale
30 x 6.8 x 5 cm
Edition of 10 copies signed and numbered by the artist, plus 2 artist’s proofs
Related edition: Introductions roses (Poire pétrifiée)
Only two copies available
During one week in 1995, Jacqueline Mesmaeker used bright pink cotton to fill in some of the cracks in the walls and floors of her apartment as well as in a few objects and antiques in her collection, thereby transforming her domestic environment into a sort of canvas. She then took photographs of these lines and dots, which she exhibited only several years later as a slideshow with the title Introductions roses. On further occasions, some objects that were still filled with the pink fabric would also be exhibited.
The Introductions roses series is certainly one of the artist’s most emblematic works. It encapsulates her peculiar conception of drawing not as a traditional practice, but as an expanded tool for infiltrating and playfully interfering with sculpture, architecture, literature, and other media. For example, the wooden block of Introductions roses (Stèle) was originally used as a model in a drawing class that Mesmaeker used to teach. By filling the fissure with color, the artist reveals the materiality of lines and hints at the struggle of her art students with “representation.”
The subtle gesture of inserting a quasi-invisible fabric also evokes the notion of secrecy that has defined Mesmaeker’s career. Working on the margins of the art scene for many decades, she had remained mostly unnoticed until recently. But this condition of clandestinity, rather than being passively suffered, instead lay at the heart of her practice. She adopted various means to steer viewers’ eyes towards barely imperceptible lights and forms, unnoticed phenomena, forgotten stories, and overlooked works of the past. With Introductions roses (Poire pétrifiée), Mesmaeker sheds light on an object dating back to the mid-nineteenth century that she inherited from her aunt. According to family legend, the pear became petrified after remaining immersed for some time in lime water. The added touch of pink can be seen as an attempt to revive the pear, not so much the fruit itself as the story and the memories attached to it.
Jacqueline Mesmaeker's exhibition took place at Keijiban from March 15 to April 14, 2023