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Contemporary counterpoint 2. Ann Veronica Janssens, Hot Pink Turquoise

23 January – 29 April 2019

The artistic technique of Ann Veronica Janssens, a Belgian visual artist, could be defined as an exploration of the sensory experience of reality.
Through various media (installations, projections, immersive environments, urban interventions, sculptures), Ann Veronica Janssens invites the viewer to cross into a new sensory space on the borderline of dizziness and dazzlement.

In a register inspired by cognitive processes (perception, sensation, memory, representation), her works tend towards minimalism, emphasising the fleeting, ephemeral and fragile nature of the environments she invites us to enter. The organisation of space and the diffusion of light, radiant colour, stroboscopic impulses, artificial mists and reflective or translucent surfaces all serve to reveal the instability of our perception of time and space. Properties of materials (gloss, lightness, transparency, fluidity) and physical phenomena (reflection, refraction, perspective, balance, waves) are rigorously examined here for their ability to destabilise the very concept of materiality.


Ann Veronica Janssens, Hot Pink Turquoise, 2019.
2 lampes halogène 750/1000 watt, filtre dichroïque couleur, 1 tripode. Dimensions variables.
Photo © Musée de l'Orangerie / Sophie Crépy. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris/London

Two projectors each equipped with a halogen lamp and a dichroic filter. The filter only allows certain wavelengths of light to pass through and reflects the spectrum rather than absorbing it. Depending on the angle of incidence, the light reveals a wide spectrum of saturated colours as it passes through the filter. The angle is key; the wider the propagation of the beam, the more it reveals a significant change in the peripheral colours. The light projections, arranged in situ, are diffused along the walls and ceiling of the gallery, unveiling combinations of several halos of saturated colours.
The work by Ann Veronica Janssens, Hot Pink Turquoise , is the second edition of a series of contemporary counterpoints that create a dialogue with Claude Monet's Water Lilies, the Musée de l’Orangerie’s in situ masterpiece.


Ann Veronica Janssens, musée de l'Orangerie, janvier 2019 © Musée de l'Orangerie / Sophie Crepy

Sophie Eloy (musée de l’Orangerie): When did you first see the Water Liliesat the Musée de l’Orangerie?
Ann Veronica Janssens: It must have been fifteen years ago. I had previously had the opportunity to visit others conserved in various museums around the world: in Russia at the Pushkin Museum, at the Musée d'Orsay, in New York, and at the Chichu Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan.

SE: Does your appreciation of the Water Lilies come from your own experience or from images?
AVJ: I do not think that it is truly possible to understand the Water Lilies  from a reproduction. This work is an adventure. You need to be able to immerse yourself in it, to move around it, to let your gaze wander across the canvas, to appreciate the texture, the glint of the light, to play with distance and proximity, to appreciate the effect of scale and the draw of the details, to let it wash over you, to spend time with it. But it is also true that there is no escaping the various reproductions, which I feel are often too illustrative and tedious.

SE: How would you describe the effect these works have on you?
AVJ: At the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Chichu Art Museum, the conditions of visibility of the works were perfect; the natural light and space had been designed around them in order to provide optimum visibility in an ideal venue and temporality. Isolated in a space devoted entirely to them, the visitor can soak in the paintings free from the surrounding commotion. In these conditions, the experience of the paintings creates a feeling of vertigo.

SE: Have you visited them often?
AVJ: I have seen them on several occasions, and each time it feels as though I am seeing them for the first time.

SE: Has this experience had a direct impact on your own work?
AVJ: I do not think that the Water Lilies have directly influenced my work, but they have raised questions that have pervaded my own experimentations. Other works by Monet have also had an influence, like the paintings of Rouen Cathedral, for example, which I distantly relate to the series Magic Mirrors.

SE: What do you see first in the Water Lilies, space, colour, forms? 
AVJ: There are indeed different temporalities: firstly space, which acts like a colourful intoxication and invites the viewer to let themselves go, then, as they move forward, approaching their body and gaze towards the works, the painting suddenly emerges, almost without form.

SE: What are the points of convergence between your own work and the Water Lilies?
AVJ: I would say, for example, qualities like immersive space, coloured stretches, the movement of light, physical movement, and other events like the loss of reference points, the lack of defined limits and perspective.

SE: Has this cycle of paintings influenced your conception of display and installation?
AVJ: By a happy coincidence, when I was carrying out an in situ test in the space offered to me at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Hot Pink Turquoise seemed the obvious fit, an abstract composition with no defined limits, featuring intense and ethereal colours. Vibrant stretches of colour that blend into one another and into the space. I feel that this installation echoes my experience of the Water Lilies.

SE: Do you still consider them relevant?
AVJ: It is a pioneering work, that creates a visual and perceptive experience, that questions the notions of space, the loss of reference points, movement, light, fluidity, subjects that many artistic practices explore, including my own.

SE: If you had to sum up the effect the Water Lilies have on you in a single word, what would it be?
AVJ: Vertigo.

SE: What would you say to someone who has never seen them?
AVJ: Seeing the Water Lilies  is a relational and wonderful experience. It is an event in itself. The indescribable beauty, the dizziness and the immediate sense of modernity are striking.

SE: How do you situate them in Monet’s body of work?
AVJ: I admire the highly conceptual, vibrant and luminous series Cathédrales [Cathedrals]  as well as his works from his trip to London, but the Water Lilies speaks to me on Monet’s relationship with the nature that he organised and controlled in order to question it and get lost in it in a sort of vital and absolute intensification.


Born in Folkestone, United Kingdom, in 1956, Ann Veronica Janssens lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Since the late 1970s, she has developed and experimental style that places the accent on in situ installations and uses very simple or intangible materials, such as light, sound or artificial fog. The visitor is confronted with a sense of the 'ungraspable', a fleeting experience from the moment they cross the threshold of clear vision, inducing a feeling of loss of control, instability, fragility, in visual, physical, temporal and psychological terms.
Her work has been displayed in numerous personal exhibitions, particularly at the De Pont Museum in Tilburg, Netherlands, in Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland, and at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the US in 2018, at the Institut d’Art contemporain de Villeurbanne in 2017 as part of the project "Mars", and at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas in 2016.
She has previously taken part in the exhibition 'At the Origins of Abstraction (1800-1914)' at the Musée d’Orsay with the creation Rouge 106 - Bleu 132.
Since 1985, she has participated in major collective exhibitions and represented Belgium in 1999 at the 45th Venice Biennale alongside Michel François. She regularly collaborates with choreographers like Pierre Droulers and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, and since 2009 has launched the ‘Laboratoire Espace Cerveau’ at the Institut d’Art contemporain de Villeurbanne with Nathalie Ergino, an interdisciplinary project that brings together the reflections and experiences of artists and scientists. Ann Veronica Janssens was chosen for the public commission for the Plaine de Plainpalais in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the public art project "Neons Parallax", for which she produced that installation "l'odrre n’a pas d’ipmrotncae" in 2012. She also created a light and colour display for the Saint-Vincent Chapel in Grignan in 2012,
and in September 2017 installed a steel girder, measuring 19m high, in Korenmarkt at the request of the city of Ghent to mark the passing of time via the projection of its shadow on the ground and the ray of light cast by the reflection of the sky on the polished surface.