Image: Bernie Colhoun, Crystal Growth Study 2, 2023, giclee print on paper,
39 x 51cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Essences, an Exhibition by Artists Murielle Celis and Bernie Colhoun
In this two-person exhibition, Essences, we can see artworks depicting things other than what we might usually observe in the world.
What could this ‘otherness’ be about, you might wonder. Surely the artworks here by Bernie Colhoun and Murielle Celis are ‘about something’– yet perhaps the show title helps us here. Essences… What does that word mean to you? Something simple? Something stripped back to its barest elements? Something essential? Something reduced down to a basic state?
Taking in these artworks, the challenge for the viewer is to forget the observable world for a bit and enter into some sort of imaginary space in the mind – one in which someone could consider ‘things’ afresh.
The American poet Emily Dickinson aptly noted about this type of imaginary space:
‘The imagination lights the slow fuse of the possible.’
In both sets of artworks here, we can witness for ourselves that very truth that Dickinson speaks of – as we the viewers are being asked to locate something other than what we observe on a day-to-day basis – something filled with the possibility of different orders, varying colours and alternative perspectives.
The scientist Albert Einstein considered the physical principles lying outside of the observable and wrote:
‘There is no logical way leading to the discovery of these elemental laws – there is only the way of intuition – which is helped by a feeling of the order lying behind the appearance.’
Albert Einstein was not fixated on the seen – but rather was held in thrall – in amazement – in revery – regarding how things work behind the seen – the mere observable. He wanted to understand things on a level that was stripped back – essential – laid bare without all the extras. Each and all of these artworks in this exhibition, too, seek intrinsic orders behind the appearance. The artworks by Celis and Colhoun hold this same revery toward nature’s underlying and secretive orders – as these two artists seek to locate the wondrousness and the mysteriousness of the Earth and the Universe in all of its physical and peculiar manifestations. Could you find examples here of the artists’ Einsteinian revery for nature’s hidden orders in this exhibition? Do you feel their artistic efforts are in thrall with the Essences located behind the seen?
Please allow me to quote the poet Emily Dickinson again. In this poem called To Make a Prairie, she described a simple prairie field somehow not requiring the bees to pollinate its clover plants.
To make a prairie it takes a clover
and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
Some questions you might ask yourself today while viewing this wonderous and mysterious exhibition are:
What possibilities do I see in this show? Was a slow fuse lit in me? Does the idea of Essences appeal to me?
– A short essay by Artist David Newton, Balbriggan, July 2023