‘He had nothing more to say.’ That is the title of one of the close-ups of human suffering on display in this exhibition. Speaking loudly, the prints of the London-based Dutch artist Marcelle Hanselaar address what is often left unsaid. They give utterance to the horrors experienced by the voiceless and draw attention to acts of silencing. They invite a dialogue about the human condition without claiming the last word.
Crying bleeding kicking screaming conflates two of Hanselaar’s print portfolios: We’re all bleeding (2012)and The Crying Game (2015/17). Contrasting selections from both series, the narrative foregrounds recurring themes in Hanselaar’s work:
The secret and the public.
The violence of human nature and the violation of human rights.
The frailty of civilisation and the loss – or myth – of innocence.
The complete series in the School of Art collection are presented in chronological order as a digital slide show.
Hanselaar combines the bitten lines of etching with what she calls the ‘poetry of aquatint’ to imagine lived experiences. In We’re all bleeding, her first hand-coloured prints, a voyeuristic impulse is tempered by a longing for understanding.
Her social commentaries and fantasies alike are rooted in art history. The Crying Game is inspired by Goya’s print cycle Disasters of War (1810-20). In subject matter and execution, it is indebted to The War, a series of etchings the German artist Otto Dix created a century ago in response to the First World War.
Hanselaar was born into the aftermath of the global conflict that followed. Raised in the protestant culture of the Netherlands, she ‘was told to not show any strong feelings.’ In her prints, those emotions come to the fore.
Throughout, the victimisation implied in ‘Crying’ and ‘Bleeding’ is countered by a resilience of the spirit – the ‘Kicking’ and ‘Screaming’ in the face of terror and trauma.
Curatorial team: Zoe Bennett, Charly Brown, Heather Bubb, Kinga Fus, Rhiain Knox, Eva Liss, Morganne Lloyd, Emily Miles, Yara Saleh, Hubert Sikorski, Isobelle Smith, Louise Tilby; Harry Heuser (concept and text), Neil Holland (design and staging)
The prints on display were purchased with support from the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund
The works in this exhibition emotionally are challenging. They include scenes of sex and violence. Viewer discretion is advised.