The stairs leading up to my third level destination still displayed extinguished candles on the floor, a trace of the ritual that had taken place just a few days ago at Galerie Rolando Anselmi. It had been the opening night of dual solo shows: Madre_Oro by Sergio Ragalzi and The Demon Love by Jan Van Oost. As I’m walking up the stairs, I imagine what it must have been like: the single file line, the expectancy, the incomprehensible chatter, and the lit candles fighting off the darkness as each visitor, accompanied by their shadow, made their way up the stairs to the sound of a cello crying above (yes, there had been live cello music at the opening reception). If the thought of this scene feels dark and ominous, it is because it was: the artwork on display asked for it.
An Inconvenient Truth
You will die. Perhaps not today or this Friday, but maybe in three weeks or sixty years you—like the rest of those around you—will nevermore know what great food, great art, and great sex feels like because you will no longer feel; you will no longer be.
But hey, no worries! The inevitability of "assuming room temperature" one day hasn’t stopped anybody from doing anything. On the contrary, it urges everyone to do everything in time before we kick the bucket. It is this preoccupation with death and its implications that continues to compel Belgian artist Jan Van Oost to create his seductively dark artwork (see image below).
Jan Van Oost's installation "The Knife" at Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin. Photo: Chris Phillips
In a corner of the gallery kneels a longhaired figure dressed in a black furcoat, wielding a knife against the wall. A mixture of seduction and fear is felt as one approaches: the life-size manner in which the figure appears gives the impression that she (or he) will turn around at any moment to acknowledge our presence. Faceless and alone, she’s condemned to this corner of the room to mourn, curse, or guard whatever forces have brought her here.