ARTIST:

Aglaé Bassens

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Aglaé Bassens
The Audience, 2012
Oil on canvas
160 x 120 cm

The old rule of stage acting – never turn your back to the audience – is a way of ensuring the viewer always feels tacitly acknowledged, an implied awareness of why the events of the play are even happening. In Aglaé Bassens’ paintings, the turned, concealed or invisible face creates the opposite effect: the viewer feels shut out, with the narrative of the painting obscured and open to question. This sense of removal and distance is at the heart of Bassens’ attitude towards painting itself: sometimes “immersed in the act of painting, at other times removed from making and … looking analytically.”

Aglaé Bassens
Ink Wigs, 2012
Ink and white pencil on paper
40 x 70 cm

That the artist is both in and out of the painting is made metaphorical in her work Ink Wigs, an ink drawing of the corner of a room hung with wigs of various shades. Each wig implies a potential act of personal transformation, described in lively and energetic paint; and yet there’s an unmistakable air of being ignored, and the wigs become the heads of people passing us by. In The Audience, we see rows of glossy and conditioned women’s hairstyles facing towards a stage or screen that we can’t see; Bassens’ brush lingers on the feathery cascades of hair, but the mystery of the painting remains unsolved. The heads’ positions imitate the act of looking at the painting itself, but unlike these curiously transfixed spectators, we’re denied the exposition we crave.

Text by Ben street
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