I attended a lecture a while back by Trees de Mits and was asked what works of hers have interested me most from an analytical viewpoint.
It must be the 'Sensory' stuff. The first aspect of her work is the subject matter and what it relates to, not what the art physically is. They are means of transferring ideas. The majority of her work consists of clay or porselain organs and body parts. Mostly painted with white latex, the unglazed ones underline the clinical aspect of things relating to organs as what they are perceived to be today in our world and society.
We think of them being removed in a clean environment when they are deformed or defective. Our society discards them because they are of no use to us.
De Mits creates these deformed, mutated, elongated organs and body parts and puts them in display cabinets as medical curiosities, in a manner reminiscent of the way they used to be stored or exhibited to educate medical students or travel around on fairs as anomalies.
Sometimes they are neatly arranged on the floor according to shape or object, tied together with surgical string, suspended on the wall, put up as a picture or as meat hanging in a cooler. Or even presented on a plate or under a glass dome.
She's been using colour since her stay in the Shikaraki Studio's in Japan. Through new works De Mits has been studying the impact of traditional Japanese glazes on her contemporary Western Art.
It has even given her work an added dimension of repulsiveness, moving a step away from the clinical cleanness and entering into the realm of the quasi reality. I say quasi because it has the colour of bodily fluids, but it does not appear to posses that trait in texture. The shiny glaze only captures the small moment of fresh, liquid blood. Not dried up as one should expect it to be on an organ taken out of the body and placed where air can touch it and the blood starts to coagulate.
It must be the repulsion I fist experienced when looking at the works. An uneasiness that turns into wonder and in a later stage fascination. I have a shared fascination for old laboratory stuff, old display cases like the ones you could still chance upon in a chemist or at the Brussels War Museum.
I'm not smitten with the works from an appreciative standpoint. But I have always had trouble with most contemporary art. The majority of things are just not aesthetically pleasing to me. So I have this border I always have to cross to look at things. And the best way to do this is to bar myself from thinking about whether I like it or not until I have really taken the time to look at it.
I have forced myself lately to choose modern art as subjects to discuss in papers. I am trying to detach my feelings completely from, if it is required, the works I need to analyze so I can really do it without any preconceived notions of esthetic values I would attach. I am wondering where this pre-occupation with Concept has come from. Is it a new form of Academism? Or is it just something to give Art History students, Art Critics and Artist something to talk about?
Sometimes I ask Dr Livingstone what he thinks of certain works I show him. He usually comes up with 'That's not art' or 'It looks like it was made by a four year old' or even the embarrasing take on art at auction: "Why is that being sold here? I thought it was an auction. That's not art". But then again, I am sure a lot of people would agree with him.