A Look at the Golden Sixties
Karin Hanssen presents at Roberto Polo Gallery new works and works never shown before in Belgium. For this Flemish artist born in 1960, time is never innocent. At first glance, her paintings resemble idyllic scenes, beautifully brushed, with middle-class families in nature or in comfortable homes, or women occupied doing their household chores. Hanssen paints images of the 50s and 60s borrowed from fashion magazines and the feminine press. This is precisely what charges her paintings with meaning. She imports universal images to the present, but not without generating controversy. The 50s and 60s were a period of protest and hypocrisy. Hanssen only painted the beautiful aspect of this era, as it was imposed on us at the time and as it is etched in the collective memory. But it was also the era of the Arms Race and the Cold War. However, she does not show us these images. And even her idyllic 'censored' scenes are dysfunctional, because woman is often represented in her traditional role. Many also say that Hanssen's work is feminist.
Hanssen lived the 60s in her youth, but her painting is not autobiographical. She says herself that she grew-up in an atypical family. Her father was a former chaplain, her mother was Austrian. Her family is far from resembling the images that she presents today to a ceaselessly increasing (international) public.
To achieve this temporal shift, Hanssen uses a technique that she calls calls 'The Borrowed Gaze'. The scenes are seen through the eyes of the photographer at the time. Simultaneously, she is tributary to seventeenth century painting, namely of genre scenes. This combination produces a strangeness. It renders Hanssen's paintings timeless, one can see them incessantly, again-and-again, without tiring. Hanssen, who organised her first exhibition in Brussels at Dolle Mol, wants to further pry into this notion of time and pursues a doctoral degree in fine art in which the following question is central: does the flashback exist in painting? It is already a complex query for her own work, because her œuvre is devoid of all narrative element.