A famous Polish/American novelist, Jerzy Kosinski, once said: ”The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke” and that is exactly what perfectly describes my experience in Mons about a month ago. This artist not only awakes, but causes a great turbulence of mixed feelings, both good and bad, to anyone who sees her work. Especially if you, like us, find yourself by accident at the Museum of Beaux Arts in Mons on the perfect day trip, you will be surprised and let’s just say mildly shocked. Allow me to present you the exhibition that will most certainly not leave you indifferent, the artist whose work will probably keep you up at night and make you think what she must have been going through. It is a magnificent, a bit of an acquired taste - the exhibition of Niki de Saint Phalle in Mons.
The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke
Frankly, before we even got into the first floor of the exhibition, we naively assumed by the colourful masterpieces we took a peak at, that this will be quite a cheerful time in the museum. But oh boy, we were so wrong. The whole exhibition is leading the spectator through her troubled and memorable life, from traumatic childhood, to marriage, nervous breakdown and feminist outburst. In each one of the stages of the exhibition you can clearly see the emotional states Niki was going through, and frankly the descriptions below the artwork do help quite a lot to understand her path and stream of consciousness.
The museum amazingly shows the different, naïve, experimental type of art she started creating after an early marriage and two children, followed by the violent, angry, attention seeking assemblages which had been shot by firearms. Those masterpieces will not only leave you speechless, but also make you really comprehend why Niki has received worldwide accolade for those specific sculptures. The most interesting part is that you as a visitor of the exhibition can have the amazing opportunity to create the virtual art by shooting the colour through the gun, just like she did. It was interesting to see how some people were reluctant to try out, but soon afterwards they completely immersed themselves into the whole experience and put everything out on the virtual canvas. That is almost even more interesting to see than the rest of the exhibition of Niki de Saint Phalle.
Finally, I do have to warn you that her work is quite an acquired taste, and it will not be pleasant to everyone. Some may find it dutifulness while others may find it disturbing. Even when you take a look at her glorious, colourful figures and children's’ amusement parks, there is still something so dark about the work that really perfectly conveys Niki’s mind. Maybe you will not find her art pretty, nor creative, but this art will evoke so many emotions - are you ready for this adventure?
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