Open now at the Visions of Beauty gallery, curated by dj12 Magic, is an exhibition of almost entirely new works by Maître Pastelliste (Master of Pastels), Silas Merlin, aka artist Jean-François Le Saint.
I make no apologies in being completely smitten by Silas’ work; I was hooked the first time I saw it at Gallery 24 in January 2016, and I’m still deeply pleased Silas came to Holly Kai Garden to exhibit his work there as well. For those unfamiliar with his work, the exhibition at Vision of Beauty could be no finer introduction. It features 18 pastel portraits and studies, and presents a number of Silas’ mesh sculptures – mesh being a medium he has recently moved into as a means of presenting 2D art through the 3D medium.
The pastel images are in a number of different sizes, allowing the visitor to see their rich, layered complexity – and appreciate why pastels are such an ideal medium for portraiture; in my opinion outshining both water and oil for the life-line tone and feel they give to the subject being studied.
Silas’ work very much focuses on children, generally those in period dress and attending traditional or medieval festivals in Brittany, and this exhibition again demonstrates this. Created from the hundreds of photos he takes while attending the events himself, Silas has brought together a select of pieces which very much put us at the heart of such a gathering, surrounded by children in period dress, some sitting earnestly, others at play or participating in a traditional dance, while others simply sit and talk or laugh together.
The floorspace of the room is broken up by a set of Silas’ mesh sculptures, some of which are taken from his own studies, including Mock Fight, which made its debut appearance at Holly Kai Park.
However, of the sculptures on display, there is little doubt that Dancer at the Barre, located at the foot of the spiral staircase leading up to another gallery area, is the most striking.
A stunning 3D interpretation of the painting of the same name by Edgar Degas, Dancer at the Barre has beautifully captured Degas’ own unite style, his appreciation of his subject, the tone and colour of the original. In short the very essence of the original is marvellously raised in 3D.
Producing 3D versions of art is something that has long fascinated Silas; he’s previously voiced a desire to be able to produce such pieces, particularly with his own art, which he might then produce in the physical world via 3D printing. More recently, in discussing the idea, he’s suggested part of the fascination is to be able to see – or at least imagine – what lies behind / beyond the core subject of a work of art, and present that as a part of a 3D piece.
For my part, I can say it has been a privilege and delight to see Silas realise this move into 3D art, and to witness his ideas for the medium evolve. I certainly look forward to seeing more of both his 2D and 3D work – and do genuinely encourage you to visit his exhibitions in-world, perhaps starting with this one, and to visit his studio space, should you wish to see more