Johan Creten - Selected Works

selected works

Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers' paintings of mussel shells led Johan Creten towards his "Odore di Femmina" series. Not only are "mould" and "mussel" homophonous in French, but "moule" also means "cunt", and when Broodthaers referenced Belgium's favorite shellfish, he also evoked the female sex organ, the origin of the world.

The "Odore di Femmina" are either reliefs, either classical female busts with a pastillage of rose petals, fruits or seaweed instead of mussels. All kinds of metonymies come subtly into play, so as to evoke the woman through her perfume, the perfume through the flower and, lastly, the sex through the thousands of vulvar excrescences enshrouding her body. These female sandstone busts are reminiscent of antique Venus Anadyomene ("Venus rising from the sea"), with measurements corresponding to Hellenistic models.
These "Odore di Femmina" take us back to the bacchantes, and to Ophelia as portrayed by 19th century symbolist painting. Marine life, the sea as mother, are central to Creten's "Vagues" series, with their impressive, truly monumental tentacle-like convolutions reminiscent of sea monsters and leviathans. "La Très grande vague ou Une sirène pour Palissy" (fittingly acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in Ostend) or "The Pearl" (with the subhead "The Lovers - The Octopi") are free of all ambiguities. Out of their impossible movements emerges a monstrous and gorgeous kind of love, rendered as a mix of attraction and repulsion. Creten makes up new mythologies out of scraps of stories, bits of History and art history, and personal experiences and travels, freely blending the personal and the intimate with the universal.