Mediamatic Magazine vol 5#1+2 Roos Theuws

Formalucis vi

The Artists

Illumination through the Light


Formalucis vi -

The mind is a light, wisdom, knowledge, skill, are none other thon light-formed glows, that illuminate the spirit with their lucidity. - Dionysius the Carthusian

Does light give form or is light itself form?This is not a natural science but a philosophical question, originally postulated by the 13th century, Italian theologian, Bonoventuro in his writing Forma Lucis and now, very consciously, formulated anew by Roos Theuws, not only in this installation but also in her other work: Forma Lucis = The Form of Light.

'The light' as a natural science, abstract, religious and mystic concept has long played a major role in Dutch painting. The varied contents and pictorial motives that inspire artists to devote themselves to the representation of light, reveals a contradistinction that is also present in Bonaventura's question: not matter alone, but the union of matter and spiritual form; the metaphysical versus the physical.

Forma Lucis is not, therefore, about light bulbs, but it does concern itself with the working and the meaning of light. And then not as representation, imitation or suggestion - something that painting can never totally avoid - but on its pure presentation and on the philosophical and aesthetic implications it contains in the context of art.

Theuws tries to stay as close os possible to the (light)source, which is why she no longer paints but works with video (the monitor being the source of the light projection; projected light}. She also uses materials such as steel, glass, aluminium ond zinc which, for the purpose of reflected light, have been worked in varying degrees. Theuws has the light firmly in hand, as it was earlier guided by the architecture of Roman and Gothic churches, to emphasise the spiritual foundations of the space and structure. The light was not directed simply to prevent people falling over the altar, but as an element of a religious, spiritual mystery.

Roman churches in Spain: charming little churches, sometimes in their original state with authentic windows, not of glass but of thinly ground alabaster discs, not transparent but translucent. The windows by the altar, narrow slits through which the glaring Spanish light shines, soft and filtered, dusting the surrounding architecture with 0 fine powder, as it were, and thus transforming the angular solidity of raw material into an organic entity. The window encircled by 0 mural of Christ: the light as his body. Light as form and in its meaning as identification of a figurative concept. The painting not os representation but as manifestation of the light and the colour itself, as the source of that which sheds light.

Forma Lucis VI: An installation for two monitors, one small and one larger, built into sculptural forms, hanging at eye-level on the wall in a darkened room. The monitors hove been arranged so as to reflect into each other. Pieces of gloss have been fixed in front of the monitors; on the plate in front of the small monitor there is a purple surface area. The topes, which last seven minutes, show abstract images of the coloured, electronic light of the screen itself (/ try to let the monitor itself constitute the meaning of the work, so that the viewer can relate directly to it without reference to another world). Just as the glass octs as a diffuser of the light and disperses it, so the sculptural elements round the monitors are there to direct light and colour, to project and to reflect. Forma Lucis VI unfolds itself image for image and the mutually reflecting monitors present a constantly changing ploy of light and colour, the aspect also being dependent on where you stand. The light as unveiler of form and the light as form. Light as motive for the work and its source, the work itself: not the representation but the presentation of light.

Forma Lucis is not an attempt to revive a medieval religious experience - as if thot would be feasible in the 20th century - but it does seek the essence and the working of ort in ort itself. The conception of art in a brood sense, os on activity and not only as a product. The Forma Lucis works are also a demonstration of a stand point, 0 frame of mind in which the works of art, as meaningful objects, are the concrete and visible results of an all-embracing spiritual process: the exercise of thought, together with the tangibility of the works, define the art. Light conceived as equal to the highest spiritual worth, the work an attempt to express that concept in matter. Thus, only in this sense con it be called mystic.