Resting on the likeness
Exhibition at Stene Projects 2014
But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul, is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: Infinite.
In her new series of paintings, Sofie Proos transforms two-dimensional sculptures and monuments into one-dimensional paintings. She re-paints the works of previous artists, removing one dimension and hence reducing the beholders access to the works into one single point of view. The monumental or architectonical work of art is usually experienced as something "in itself" free-standing, placed in a space that allows the contemplator to move around it – to see it from different perspectives and to see the play of light and shadow change as one moves through the room. Proos reduces this spatiality, allowing us to view the monuments only through another work of art, which is created in a whole new medium. The painting is only to be experienced frontally – facing the surface of the canvas. It demands an interpreting contemplator, reading into the one dimension something beyond it. Still, the monumental feeling in Proos’s works remains. The sculptures are filled with cracks and the buildings are mere ruins; one glance at the technically accomplished paintings and one can almost feel the smooth marble and raucous rocks under ones fingertips. Occasionally, the eyes and faces of the sculptures are left out – we only encounter the fragments of that which used to be. The luscious colour scale creates an illusory, dreamy atmosphere, highlighting the historicity of the motifs. They almost seem radiant, as if glowing from the inside, or perhaps reflecting instant sunlight. Still, Proos's paintings are no mere nostalgic expressions of Ancient Greek aesthetics or even of the re-claiming of these aesthetics during the Enlightenment. Rather, the emptiness of the faces seems to imply the opposite – a critique of the era ruled by reason. The motifs are like empty shells, violently beautiful but somehow purposely lacking humanity. Although the sculptures possess the outer form of human bodies, they seem as empty inside as the abandoned architectonical sights. Proos tells us of a humanity that is frozen, stagnated and slowly decaying by organic processes. Much can be read into the abyssal voids of the faces. Whether the pictures strike us as a reminder of our own mortality, or of the fact that humanity has a tendency to get lost in our most earnest attempts to overcome nature, and build civilisations – they remind us of the struggle between culture and nature. And in the end, they make us realise that there can be no winner in this so-called war.
Astrid Grelz Andersson
Figurehead Oil on canvas, 135 x 118 cm
Flight of Stairs 135 x 118 cm
Greek God 55 x 46 cm
Meissen I 55 x 46 cm
Meissen II 50 x 40 cm
Sappho 40 x 35 cm
Sappho Red 40 x 35 cm