In the tradition of the Flemish primitives, the body of work by Lili Dujourie (Roeselare, Belgium, 1941) establishes an intellectual and sensory connection with the viewer, at the same time that it presents a critical reflection on specific ideas and categories in art history.
In her work, Dujourie plays with the sensuality and immediacy of materials, emphasises the performative aspect of the artwork (its theatrical and processual dimension), investigates the relationship between nature and culture, and gives decorative and ornamental elements a central role. Her videos, drawings, installations and sculptures speak of the passing (and the weight) of time and move between the figurative and the abstract, generating a sensation of melancholy and searching for an emotional understanding of space.
This exhibition includes a selection of works from different points in her career as an artist, as well as several pieces that the Belgian artist created in the last few years. All of these works establish a historical and aesthetic dialogue with the space in which they are presented: the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos. Maagdendale (1982) is the first in a series of velvet sculptures created in the 1980s in which religious associations are fused with allusions to the Renaissance and the Baroque. In the exhibition, it stands in the gallery antechamber, which makes it function more like a simulation than a representation, thus contributing to making visitors conscious of the theatrical nature of this (and any other) exhibition.
Lili Dujourie has installed works from two different series in the gallery. Initialen der stilte is a set of sculptured pieces composed of clay objects placed on thin tabletops and evoking organic forms (leaves, bones, roots, etc.). They could be described as a ‘still lifes’ that contain the desire to strip away (a return to origins), providing a poetic reflection on time and memory. The second series, created expressly for the exhibition, contains small papier-mâché sculptures inspired by the flowers grown for their medicinal properties in Europe since classical antiquity. Dujourie takes the part of the flowers used in herbal pharmacopeia as her reference point, recalling that during the Middle Ages, monasteries like the one at Silos were the custodians of this traditional learning, a part of their history that is often little-known.