What hasn’t he said, read or tried to explain ? What hasn’t he watched, swallowed, digest then spit ? What hasn’t he searched, investigate, bring back or reported on the plane surface ? Whenever we find ourselves despite all means - but we had it coming - in front of a Orsten Groom painting, our legs seem to cast away in vertigo. Chaos is in the place, in it’s theater, and mud and clutter, morrass, tangle, gallimaufry reign.
Let’s untangle what this mud is about.
There is a dilemna: either scrupulously describe it’s vast « Tohu-Bohu » population and signs iconography (a lazy temptation); either aim on the paint itself, it’s economy, examine and study the essential component of this canvases. He works accordingly to a « Method », says he. The flat canva takes in it’s inwardness, it’s backgrounds. These will be the receptacle of the Danse Macabre to come. These abstract grounds (for they’re meaningless at this bottom point) are borrowed from the byzantine and russian icons golden beds - and bring up the lights and tons of the counterday. Then bursts a form, or rather a shape (since the term « form » undermeans a fake formalism, some fetichism to come, « Junk » or « Rubbish » as Bruno Schulz may say); a drawing, or some pattern as the primary sign of the investigation.
Other will succeed amongst the primal clue, and little by little grows and thickens the quagmire.
Therefore, even before any reasoning or thinking, the canvas gets a « reflexion » that the artist experiences as an arena - « a convocation » - and the work to work from itself : « In a turmoil of great joy, grand medieval dance of the anyhows and anyways of haunting. Something as infernal as the vast absurda in which we slash. »
Space get saturated and compelled by the stubborn refusal of any perspective, except for the icon’s reversed perspective that turns the spectator in a second-hand actor of the carnival sewing the picture.
Composition is neutralised. Every patterns condense so as not to arrogate the subject : « There shall be neither entering or exit point. It would be to easy to allow a single pattern gets credit or value from a flattering environment. »
These patterns sometimes disappear and leave a trace, a ghost clue of what have been in order for the thing to be. Backgrounds, patterns, spurts and drippings, flattering effects and strokes order in autonomous ways a centrifugal and centripetal morass.The whole spins out from the center to the physical borders of the picture, and aggregate from the frame to the core. This in a permanent, swirling and torrential trafic.
The picture is the re-organisation space of the cosmic harmonies - cosmological, even cosmogonical - a translation of archetypes. Therefore we cannot grab the totality anymore, but maybe only its tonality.
An adaptation time and the right distance remain to be set. With them we descry the Maelström effect that deports and perverts the stare.
The vertical and horizontal scheduling (the horizontal inscribed between two verticals), the inscription of a frame in the physical surface of the picture, the (often violent) relationship of raw colors (out of tubes and pots) mark the prominence of the disposition device for Orsten Groom. A device that desires to untangle from the formalist constraints.
The dénouement, the outcome would therefore be to level and flatten it all. To neutralise the whole thing. Orsten Groom engages strong relationships with Piet Mondrian in his « new perception » design : it « does’nt process from a given point but puts perspective everywhere and nowhere. It ain’t confined to time and spot. » (Piet Mondrian, The realization of Neoplasticism in a distant future, 1922)
We must lead the « investigations » by this means : the active dynamism of structure by colors, i.e light. Issues that were already at stake in the older and intimate canvas of the artist, where patterns used to feed on the very paint itself.
The work is therefore the theater of this close proximities experiments : words, patterns, signs, matter-colors and light-colors. Orsten Groom takes on the dressmaker suit which needlework is infinite, always on the loom. He knows his sight hampered and the failure of a strict, dogmatic definition of painting - hence this requirement not to build images or idols, this neediness of the canvas to tangle, sew and commingle amongst itself.
Painting becomes an organic monster that Groom wakes and reveals as Calderon’s Sigismond : « man amongst beasts, and beasts amongst men »
Mudseam, Orsten Groom / Martus Lupus, Yannick Courbès, MUBA - Eugène Leroy Museum curator