The all-embracing exhibition of Maen Florin (1954) brings together every facet of her work at three locations, each with its own special character: the Hof van Busleyden Museum, De Garage and Sint-Janskerk (St John’s Church) in Mechelen.
Her sculptures at the Hof van Busleyden and Sint-Janskerk become one with the surroundings in which they are displayed. Florin engages in the same kind of dialogue with the past that we find in the Renaissance. In Sint-Janskerk, the characteristic heads she sculpts seek ways to relate to St John, to whom the church is dedicated. The beheading of John the Baptist has prompted artists throughout the centuries to ponder how ‘the head’ embodies our humanity – a focus heightened by Florin’s disembodied heads.
At the museum, meanwhile, her art ties in with the themes of the institution itself as well as the formal language of the works of art there. In this way, Florin’s work adds fresh or different interpretations, which invite viewers to look at the masterpieces within the museum circuit in a different way.
The work the artist is showing at De Garage is entirely new and goes further than she has previously. She has added colours, walls and specially designed bases there to lend shape to the exhibition architecture, and her sculptures adopt a clear stance towards the other images in the same space. In this way, she enables the evocative power of the surroundings to contribute to the experience of her work.
Maen Florin’s sculptures seduce the viewer, while simultaneously holding up a mirror to them. In her quest to translate powerful emotions, the artist unites binaries such as power and powerlessness, love and suffering, strength and fragility in a single work. Her figures seek contact with the world, yet are trapped in their own bubble, separate from the other.