peter gentenaar via abundance

March 14, 2012

Yesterday, I was delighted to make the aquaintance of Mady Dooijes via the comments here on designskool. Not only is Mady a talented clothing designer, but she also has a beautiful blog, Abundance, which I thoroughly enjoyed leafing through. One of her features in particular struck me – that of Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar. His latest exposition of 100 paper sculptures in the abbey church of Saint Riquier, in Northern France, is totally stunning.

I can imagine that Peter’s work would be striking in any venue, but in this cathedral it is utterly breathtaking. Floating in this soaring place of worship, these huge sculptures adopt all kinds of powerful connotations. Much like the abbey church itself, these ethereal pieces possess a calm, quiet grandeur, a sacred serenity. And like this cathedral their organic forms pay homage to Nature as the master architect, appearing sometimes as flowers, a breath of wind, or even a whale.

And yet, there is also a darker countenance to these creatures. Wafting through the heavens, they take on aspects of both cherubs and shrouds. Here with their visible veins echoing the “bones” of the structure, and their sweeping folds flowing right into the graceful lines of the architecture, it’s as if they are one with the space. And yet, thus unbound, one has the feeling that any calm might be temporary. That given the slightest provocation, these angels might be whipped into a frenzy of furies.

The genius of this installation lines in Peter’s ability to simultaneously evoke all aspects of our complicated relationship with the divine. From their lofty prospect in Saint Riquier, Gentenaar’s creations appear much like The Creator itself. Beautiful, but slightly menacing, they are simply awesome.

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