Selected works by Aglaé Bassens

Aglaé Bassens
The Audience


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


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


15th March 2012, by Rebecca Santiago, Jotta

Aglaé Bassens, a graduate of The Slade School of Fine Art and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, is one of 19 artists chosen for Jotta’s Sum of Substance exhibition at the Affordable Art Fair. Bassens talks to Jotta about her work for the exhibition and how it engages with the show’s theme of value.

What medium do you work with, and what will you be exhibiting at Sum of Substance?
I work with oil paint on canvas. In Sum of Substance I will be exhibiting two large paintings, 'Muffled' made last june and 'audience', a more event piece I made this winter.
What narratives inform your work for the show?
Muffled deals with ideas of restraint, weight and inertia in painting. These words relate to a psychological state as well as one possible approach to materiality. Audience also deals with the stuff of paint through the rendition of the hair, and talks about the gaze of the artist and that of the audience onto the work.
How do you feel your work engages with the show's theme of value and how we measure it?
Figurative painting is about the transformation of an inert element into a living image. This shift inherently and constantly alters the value of the work. The transformative nature of painting is what has always excited me and it is a relevant analogy to many aspects of our chameleon society.
What's coming up next for you after Sum of Substance?
At the moment I am working hard to create a strong body of work after graduating from my MFA in painting at Slade last June, while applying for upcoming competitions and opportunities. I am also setting up an artists's residency in south turkey.