France (b. 1960 and 1968)
Ghyslaine and Sylvain Staelens first became an artistic team in 1996, when the two self-taught artists decided to move into 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 metals that they found there soon became indispensable to their work. The media used gives the illusion of being from a primitive, more ritualistic way of life.
Starting from sophisticated assemblies of tree branches and roots, the couple manufactures creations that give rise to animal and human forms. The two artists have a deep fascination with Latin American and African tribal art, an influence which figures heavily in their work. Often the figures are 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 us or torment us. For the artists, the flexible and solid wire symbolizes attachment, the barbed wire and the nails symbolize suffering and horror, and the branches represent discipline, rigor, and control of the spirit. The artists compare the process by which they apply their sophisticated sand formula to the exercise of an exorcism.