OLIVIA D’ABOVILLE: Dematerializing Material, Healing the Energies
Can a material ever transcend its substance and ascend to an ether of its own making? How does an artist address and confront the very limitation of physicality? Would it deliver the material into a state felicitously apposite it?
One such indisputable wizard of material who senses and detects the possibilities of a substance, with an almost pre-conscious awareness of what energies it can emit, is Olivia d’Aboville. Remarkably this artist has of late been expending her passion on a material for which she has shown an entrancing instinct, coming as it does with an unprepossessing, prosaic name: abaca polyester fabric.
But lo, what wonders she has done with it, and in her hands – this long stretch of fabric, meticulously pleated and digitally printed with Chinese ink – emerges as wind and rain, sea waves and spumes and desert sand, assimilating nature in its weft and woof the mysteries of nature, and in the particular theme of this show, the dichotomies of humanity: life and death, light and darkness, masculinity and femininity, science and mysticism. D’Aboville’s impulses for these ruminations are critically propelled by her ascetic shift to black, white and the intermediate grays, and the conviction that any other hue would be impermissible, if not indeed, a transgression, a diminishment, an opposition. With the binaries of black and white, d’Aboville sets the visual stage for her contemplative thoughts.
What has set the artist on this specific focus? By d’Aboville’s admission, her emergence into a new state of life – motherhood – has brought a new seriousness into her life, provoked not so much for herself, but for her newborn, indeed, as to what beneficent or merciless world her child has been delivered. She laments: “We live in a world focused on consumerism and instant gratification, where access to any information is readily available, where technology develops and evolves so fast…We are fueled by the ego. We exploit our most unfortunate brothers and sisters, we exploit the earth’s resources, we destroy our ecosystems, we create wars.”
D’Aboville’s works – steeped in serenity and joy, emitting energies that are at once spiritual and empirical – are an exquisite search for the balance of forces that have eluded our lives and our world, for which restoration she uses her art as an instrument of awareness and acknowledgement, of solace and uplift, indispensable to a future world in which her child can live an exultant and balanced life.
With d’Aboville’s genius for material, a realization of that dream would not be too of a stretch.
We live in a world focused on consumerism and instant gratification, where access to any information is readily available, where technology develops and evolves so fast, where our success is measured by how much we earn. We are fuelled by the ego. We exploit our most unfortunate brothers and sisters, we exploit the earth’s ressources, we destroy our ecosystems, we create wars. Our actions have disastrous consequences that affect the whole of humanity and the changes in our planet. How far will we go?
Is this the world I want my son to grow up in?
But all is not fear, destruction and hate. There is so much beauty in this world. It seems there is a collective desire to fix the imbalance we feel in our lives and in the world as a whole, to fight the wrong we see happening all around the world. We feel the need to go back to basics, reach deeper into ourselves and reconnect with the earth, lead a simpler life, a more healthy one for the body, mind and soul. We have forgotten fundamental instinctual knowledge that comes from within. We have lost the feminine wisdom of listening, listening to ourselves and our earth. By leading our lives with more compassion, empathy and love, we can change the world.
Olivia’s new serie is more graphic and the use of black and white is radical, evoking the feminine and masculine (or masculine and feminine depending on the cultures), the constant battle between the two energies found in each and everyone of us. Duality of man. It also symbolises the obvious opposites such as dark and light, bad and good, death and life. The opposites coexist, the key is to find balance.
The artworks feel abstract minimalist but the process leading to the final piece is laborious. The whole serie is made of 105 meters of abaca polyester textile handwoven in Cebu by Cebu Interlace. Olivia used China ink and digital printing to create the patterns. The fabric is meticulously pleated. The pleats create a fluid pattern of lines and lighting enhances the texture and shadow play. The shapes are organic infused with movement symbolising the constant flow of both energies. Semi circles are also part of the shapes in the serie, symbolising the matrix, the feminine and fertility.