Before taking to the skies
Or descending into Hell
A few things must be remembered
Guidance rather than laws
Fragments instead of blocks
Sharp phrases in place of long sentences
All that the Sky and Hell teach us
How they bind us and read us
In the reflection of agony and stars
We find our lives
All formed in light and shadows
A lesson is not to be given
Still less are doctoral precepts to be repeated
To be whispered are only a few poetic truths
On the Sky and Hell
They, who with many colours and many stories in common
resemble us and unite us
know everything about us
Almost all that matters
Eric Croes — La nuit est une femme à barbe
Eric Croes has always been fascinated by the starry night sky. As a child, he spent hours admiring the planets and their secrets in books, where stars shone brightly from page to page. La nuit est une femme à barbe [The Night Is a Bearded Woman], sees Eric Croes extend an invitation to join him on a journey, as he traces the contours of his own, personal constellations.
There's the sky, of course, but there's also Hell. For Eric, the two are complementary and answer to each other. He uses the entire gallery space to move us from one to the other, making these two worlds coexist. But this time, the skies are on the ground and Hell is upstairs. A staircase connects them, serving as a passageway. This reversal is crucial. It removes the moral weight of traditional precepts.
Hell is no longer the place of evil and lowliness, and neither are the skies the place of good. In both spaces, beings coalesce, love and desire each other, copulate, and cohabit, throwing light on all their complexity, oscillating between pleasure and sin. They are like the bearded woman, who, as a tutelary figure, reminds us through her hybridity that every mystery is many-sided, and every interpretation always plural.
The entire exhibition is arranged as a mirror, using a fascinating play of reflections to amplify each echo: stars answer to devils, golems to totems... Each sculpture hides a “verso”, an “about-face” that we must discover: an entwined limb, a stolen kiss. Heads on one side, tails on the other... As at nightfall, when one cannot tell dog from wolf, the artist urges us to look beyond appearances to see that all things—both vice and virtue—are possible.
In Eric's work, imaginary mythologies mingle with childhood memories, and secret obsessions come face to face with a primal creative force. The artist has taken over the gallery, transforming it into his own mental space: we go deep into his secret hideaways, we gaze at the sky beside him, we penetrate the innermost recesses of his psyche...
This series of works, while coinciding the constellations of the Little and Big Dipper with an erotic and fantastic nightscape,—composed of totems, addictions to the loving couple and their voyeur, infernal mirrors facing bearded women—the artist reveals the full extent of his imagination and technical prowess. Golems in black clay and chalky colours of engobe. Stars in coppery red clay, their dazzling enamels contrasting vividly. Upstairs, we encounter five totem poles, two of which, for the first time in Croes' work, are almost entirely black. Like two monochrome figures, the shades of black recall the skin of a meteorite... Even in the darkest of colours, the artist is able to show us light. In harmony with the exhibition as a whole, and its intention to take us beyond appearances.
Around the sculptures we must turn, losing ourselves in the details, grasping the mysteries in their totality, tilting everything upside down. Not looking for answers, but for more questions. Taking side roads, retracing steps to better lose yourself in the space imagined by the artist. The gallery no longer exists, the chimneys disappear, the ox-eye window fills up, and reality yields to the stars, sphinxes, golems, devils, and other celestial inhabitants.
Eric Croes' infinite sky can then cover everything. And we get caught up in this marvellous immensity where everything is allowed. Even the forbidden.