Ghyslaine and Sylvain Staelens
Ghyslaine and Sylvain Staëlens
B. 1960 and 1968, France
Ghyslaine and Sylvain Staëlens first became an artistic team in 1996, when the two self-taught artists decided to move to the remote countryside of D’Auvergne. This volcanic region provided them with plenty of materials with which to create sculpture, bas-relief, masks, figurines, totems, and crucifixes. The floating wood, roots, and rusted metal that they found there soon became indispensable to their work.
Starting from sophisticated assemblies of tree branches and roots, the couple manufactures creations that give rise to animal and human forms. The figures are often embedded with nails and wires and oxidized to give the appearance of rusted metal, which they use in reference to the various mental entities that stimulate or torment us. For the artists, the flexible and solid wire symbolizes attachment, the barbed wire and the nails symbolize suffering, and the branches represent discipline, rigor, and control of the spirit.
The Staelens work has been exhibited widely since the early 2000s, including at Musée des Arts Buissonniers (Saint-Sever-du-Moustier), Musée de l’Art en Marche (Lapalisse), Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie, Les Ecuries (Aurillac), Contemporain Abbaye d’Auberive, and Halle Saint Pierre (Paris), and is included in the permanent collections of the Musée de la Fabuloserie (Dicy, France), Musée de l’Art en Marche (Lapalisse, France), Musée des Arts Buissonniers (Saint-Sever-du-Moustier), American Folk Art Museum (New York), Collection Blanchard-Hill (New York), Takashi Murakami Collection (Tokyo) and the Audrey B. Heckler Collection (New York).