Val Smets - Troublemakers - Galleria Kajava
Päivä ja aika6 – 30.10.2021
VAL SMETS - TROUBLEMAKERS
UMBRELLA LIKE MUSHROOM. AND SHE LETS HERSELF IMAGINE THAT THE CREATOR WAS A MUSHROOM LOVER.
THE DAYDREAMER WAS SPENDING TIME IN NATURE, OBSERVING ATTENTIVELY THE BRISTLING LIFE AND LITTLE MOVEMENTS SURROUNDING HER. DISCOVERING HOW ANTS PROTECTED THEMSELVES FROM THE RAIN AND OTHER PREDATORS, THE PARASOL IDEA WAS BORN.
BUT MAYBE THE UMBRELLA HISTORY ISN’T LINKED AT ALL TO THE FUNGI WORLD. MAYBE ITS PROPERTIES WERE ONLY NESTED AFTER ALL INTO THE ANT TALES…
HOWEVER, THOSE THAT MASTER THE ART OF OBSERVATION GAVE A NAME TO THE FOREST WILD CAPS: THE TOADSTOOL. OLD STORIES SAY TOADS WERE ATTRACTED TO POISONOUS MUSHROOMS AND LIKED TO USE THEM AS THRONES. HENCE, TO PREVENT THE CONSUMPTION OF A DANGEROUS MUSHROOM, THE NAME REMAINS A POPULAR SAYING AMONGST FOREST WALKERS.
NEVERTHELESS, IT WAS A MISPLACED BELIEF: THE FROGS ALSO JUMPED ONTO EDIBLE MUSHROOMS... AND SOME FELL INTO THE TRAP.
ALL MUSHROOMS ARE EDIBLE, BUT SOME ONLY ONCE. LITTLE TROUBLEMAKERS.
Val Smets’ practice is positioned between painting, installation, sculpture, and sensory intervention, often combining painting with light installation, site-specific settings, and smell. Her works reflect on the artist’s deep engagement with painting through a multitude of technics, and her theoretical exploration of the position of humans towards non-human agency through the paradigm of mycelium and fungi.
Her simple treatment of the canvas and the absence of stretchers in her large-scale paintings highlight the materiality of the medium while underlining the artist’s engagement with the ongoing discourse on the traditional presentation of painting, further breaking the confines of the genre. Her direct application of paint on the canvas without preparatory sketches speaks to the remarkable confidence of Smets’ gesture, as her fluid lines and light brushstrokes form colorful landscapes of oversized mushrooms through seemingly abstracted forms.
By playing with scale and proportions Smets is repositioning the viewer as the smallest entity of the scene, evoking questions of perspective as she morphs our familiar gaze on nature. The work allows the viewer to see the world through an ant’s perspective, highlighting one of the smallest (and biggest) groups within our planetary ecosystem: the mushroom.
Thinking through Merlin Sheldrake´s “Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures” Smets celebrates the incredible diversity of a lifeform that can pop up overnight, lives inside all of us and, and balances the paradox of new life and decay. Through her visual language, Smets creates a psychedelic new interpretation of Alice in Wonderland or the setting for Anna Karenina’s budding romance during a mushroom hunt.