Until 20 December 2023, the Les filles du calvaire gallery is hosting a solo exhibition by Belgian artist Lore Stessel, entitled ‘Vague‘. In this exhibition, she shares with the public images of her encounters with contemporary dancers, dazzling us with her unique practice of photographic art.
Lore Stessel studied painting at the Luca School of Arts in Brussels and photography at the Ecole nationale supérieure de photographie in Arles. It is through these two artistic media that her practice of contemporary art is born. From painting, she retains only the support and the gesture by which she applies the gelatine-silver emulsion to canvas, allowing her images to become transparent. All the other details necessary for her creative technique come from her photographic studies, in particular the recording of images on film, their development and then the production of her prints.
Lore Stessel uses the tools and techniques of photography to bring her images to life, but it is in the execution of her gestures that her canvases take shape. The images are revealed in the darkroom, through contact between the light and the material, just like the encounter between the artist and the dancers she photographs.
The figures she immortalises don’t pose for her, they dance. Bodies in movement appear in her canvases, and this amalgam of skin is imbued with emotions and sensations that Lore Stessel shares with the dancers. She sometimes witnesses these moments of communication between the figures in her images and waits for the right moment to capture this ephemeral manifestation of feelings with precision.
In the “Vague” exhibition, the Belgian artist shares her encounter with these dancers, saying: “Last year, I met the same dancers several times. I didn’t travel the world in search of the unknown, but I zoomed in and found beauty in the small changes that can mean big upheavals. This happens within me as a person and as an artist, and in the people around me. And especially in the dancers I work with. In his films, Werner Herzog used to say that the encounters were real, but that he staged the people to make reality seem more real. With contemporary dancers from Brussels, we thought about and experimented with what it meant to be together. By eliminating hierarchy and tasks, the focus is on each individual. What do I want and how can I make it possible within the group?“
Lore Stessel has sought to answer this question in her series entitled “Poetry of the gang“. In it, she explores the unity of a group and the way in which the whole takes shape. For her, “If you want to be carried, sometimes you have to carry“. It is during collective rehearsals that the contemporary artist is able to detect the slightest sensations and emotions hidden behind each movement, felt by each individual in the troupe. It is in these moments that the memory of these encounters nestles, a beauty that is often overwhelming, “a subtle multiplicity of feelings“.
Alessandro Baricco, in his famous novel, explains this quest for the perfect moment: “… you see, there, the place where the water arrives… it rises along the beach and then stops… there, that place, exactly, where it stops. … it only lasts a moment, look, here, for example… you see, it only lasts a moment and then it disappears, but if we could fix that moment… the moment when the water stops, at that exact spot, that curve… That’s what I’m studying. The place where the water stops (…) something extraordinary happens there (…) That’s where the sea ends”.
In the same way, Lore Stessel seeks to capture those fleeting moments, those moments of grace when dance becomes poetry. Lore Stessel’s images capture this nostalgia for the moment, blending perfectly with the connotation evoked by the writer. Her unique, immersive photographic pieces take on the sparkling, evanescent quality of the foam left by the sea when the waves recede. In this way, the beauty sought by the Belgian artist also manifests itself in the observation of changes in the landscape, in the matter, in the tremors that have shaped the rocks, and above all in the waves that agitate the sea.
Lore Stessel‘s ‘Vague‘ exhibition at Les Filles du Calvaire gallery is an observation of the emotions perceived within a unit and within a landscape in perpetual motion. This meticulous observation allows visitors to better perceive these almost invisible emotions, which the artist succeeds in capturing brilliantly through her photographic lens.