(Je ne veux pas troubler ton rêve – I will not disturb you in your dream)
We stand in the gallery La peau de l’ours where Safia Hijos invites us in a peculiar “Winter garden” of stoneware. Cascades and leaves bouquets on the wall, “Tulipers” filled with real flowers on a plinth. A Winter garden gallery for Spring. Would Safia Hijos have become so enthusiast about plants that she could garnish our living room?
The taste for green houseplants has been introduced in the 19thcentury at the time of industrial revolution, along with the development of greenhouse architecture and improvement of heating techniques. In the bourgeois salon, the exotic houseplant lost its functional purpose and joined the ornaments as a symbol of status. It was the dreamy age of eclecticism, the time when the new society was furnishing with fantasies (Gothic, Chinese, Persian, Renaissance). The time when the look was losing itself in glass and psyche, when the gas was lit in glass globes which looked like opalescent moons.
"It was the dreamy age of eclecticism, the time when the new society was furnishing with fantasies"
Everyone only dreams about sudden happiness. Does Safia Hijos invite us to return to the enigma within, space of our existential experience? To figure out the contours of the soul more than those of the things? The ceramist covered those tombés of greenery, those flowered tulipiers, with overlaid enamels made of lead (toxic to the application) which decorate the stoneware with unique green and yellow varnished colors . Looking closer, there is something excessive, in the complication of the shapes and the variation of olive-emerald shades, which challenges the taste. A kind of worried drunkenness. To what kind of banquet or primal scenery is Safia inviting us? To the wedding of mineral, bodies and vegetal, three states of the world, three shapes which can be measured, have their own boundaries, which still escape any kind of measure and limit.
Visitors, we are ourselves part of the Winter garden, we entered it, we walk into it and soon we shall leave as incidentally as we came into existence. “Supernature, supernature, supernature” used to sing someone called Ceronne in 1977. Likewise, the flowers seem to sing while springing out theirTulipiers,echoed by the garlands and bouquets with mineral leaves. We pass like shadows in the middle of futile fantasies and vanities. Winter garden you say? Wouldn’t we rather be lost in a funeral home?
“I don’t know what is it, but it is not that.” (Bossuet)
Alain van der Hofstadt, art historian — Saint-Gilles, april 2019.
*Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827), “Gute Nacht“, Winterreise— set to music in 1827 by Franz Schubert (1797-1828)