« stElles »
From megalitic steles to the shadows of women from here or everywhere, from our days or days gone by, there is a similarity of profiles that Chantal Hardy uses as homage to her sisters. Whether, as a female farm worker wearing a hat to protect her from the searing sun, a Muslim dressed in a chador, a young bride dressed on her wedding day, a nun wearing her habit, woman is still perceived as the weaker sex. However, women are the majority on earth and are considered as the “Origine du monde” according to Courbet.
If the stele, by essence, serves to remind of ancient times, a number of steles aligned together, serve to make it even more evocative.
All are similar but never the same, be it stone monuments or human silhouettes, celtic or oriental, antique or modern. Chantal Hardy, as a lithographer, incorporates the skills and lessons learned by the sculptor for her own purposes while working with steel. Women from her prints acquired therefore a third dimension while keeping their multiplicity. Taken from their (in)human form, these women become steles, solidified so much by the material of the artist rather than by the diktats, traditions or life’s routine, long to be the symbol of emancipation. The challenges for the observer are to cross their maze, to appreciate the thinking that they require, to consider their holy character and to empathize with the artist and her sisters.
This work while providing a purpose beyond the beauty, is not banal, neither is the movement of the artist. Far from dividing people according to culture or wealth, this work aspires to unit. Initially, « StElles » will travel on a journey through communities, regions and countries.
Silk paper to Corten steel, the woman in all her diversity
As a woman, Chantal Hardy wanted to be an artist where a more conformist function was expected of her. She became finally an engraver in a world of men: the look by Chantal Hardy to femininity does not have anything to do with an anecdote. After having suffered with the loss of loved ones, becoming a mother enabled to her to go further and allowed Chantal Hardy to incorporate the experience (both happy and tragic) of fellow women. Her engravings, etchings then lithography’s took on more and more colours and her features became more and more pure. Afterwards, she deeply reflected on the working material she uses. She chose the "strengthened" tissue paper before forcing printed industrialised papers to submit to the will of the artist. It is not surprising in this evolution to now see her confronting herself with the third dimension and with a new material while preserving the asset of her pure lines, her recurring topic and the characteristics of the print.
Update of the program of exhibitions, conditions of subscription, curriculum vitae of Chantal Hardy on website: www.cultureplus.be.
Contact (english, italian and dutch):
Each StElle is cut from 3mm thick Corten steel sheet. Each piece of art will, at the end of the process, be rust colour. The height varies between 1 and 2,15 meters and the width from 1 to 1,50 meters.
Producing : 5 exemplars (4 are to be created to order). The first one (already produced) is for the exhibitions.
Chantal HARDY, overview of her career (complete C.V. at www.cultureplus.be)
The StElles collection in its entirety was exhibited, for the first time, in November 2006 at the church St. Lambert in Verviers with the participation of the art gallery Arte Coppo. This work will be exhibited until 2008, exclusively in Belgium, in the Centre de la Gravure de la Communauté française in La Louvière. The next step will be to extend the programme to our neighbouring countries.
Translation by Caroline Simaÿs and Allan Murphy