Document No. 1. Blowfly
1973-75 94cm x 64cm Silkscreen print in limited edition of 10 on 100% cotton paper with one print on acrylic glass
“Estranging the Objects”
‘Documents’ is a series of meticulously illustrated ordinary insects and in some instances repellent, resembling those of Fabre’s in Souvenirs Entomologies, like the fly, bee and ladybug, enlarged and depicted tirelessly on silkscreen prints.
The microscopic depictions of these expressionless insects are super realistic bearing a sense of clarity and beauty in themselves. There is no trace of human empathy in these objects, yet the artist views these insects with feelings of tenderness and awe.
Her sensibility implies the world in which not only insects but every non-human object exists as beings. They simply exist in dimensions and systems different from humans. Her sensibility covers not only organisms, like ants and flies, but embraces mechanisms; every substance and object found in our environment.
This I think is the real beauty of Denyse Gibbs’ work. She refuses to invest these objects with a human consciousness and “attempts” to “estrange the objects”, to use the expression of Francis Ponge*. What appears as graphic imagery in Ms Gibbs’ work has emerged after the long process of her careful and elaborate scrutiny. That may be the very reason she defines her work as “Informational Art”.
Her work has been described as, “Art which seeks renewed contact with the world of fact ....... as the most successful essays on the new Informational Art, they bear witness to a new and remarkable sensibility”.
In the context of contemporary art, another review refers to her work as, “A small tableaux of Arte Povera (Minimal Art) in spite of the ordinary objects depicted there”.
Although she herself eschews such labels, in the context of contemporary art Minimal Art may come closest to defining Denyse Gibbs’ ‘Documents’. Following Conceptual Art, we have identified a move towards naturalism in contemporary art, against which her uncompromising oeuvre stands out especially clearly.
Incontestably, the work of Ms Gibbs stands alone in its own right. It implies simply that here is a woman with a discerning capability and talent. With her extraordinary concentration and intellect, she presents this innovative sensibility through the depiction of insects.
Akiko Hyuga, Art Critic - Tokyo, Japan.
*Francis Ponge b.1899-d.1988. “Siding with the Objects” - French Essayist and Poet. Influenced by Surrealism, he developed a form of prose poetry minutely examining everyday objects.