Roberto Polo Gallery

The Gallery will close for Easter on Sunday, April 16th, 2017;

Maria Roosen

  • Inside Out (detail)

Artist Statement

In construction




  • MARIA ROOSEN | LA FÉE JOUISSIVE |, by Muriel de Crayencour Muriel de Crayencour



    MARIA ROOSEN, A SPRIGHTLY FAIRY QUEEN Muriel de Crayencour 15 October 2015 Galleries Upon entering the gallery, you will encounter a wall of colourful bricks. The bricks are made of glass, so they are fragile, and yet they have been stacked as if they were meant to form ramparts. This translucent brick wall is the work of Maria Roosen (1957), a Dutch artist who creates effortlessly in various media – glass, knitted wool, watercolour. She graduated from the very exacting Moller Instituut in Tilburg in 1981, and went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Arnhem, an institute that boasted a multidisciplinary approach and allowed students to grapple with all their subjects right from the start. An elongated bunch of red currants, Berries, resembles a bunch of voluptuous breasts. A vase in the most exquisite pink, filled with penises, looks like a delicate glass bouquet. Also in Roosen’s signature range of acid pink colours, several female heads with weirdly shaped hairdos. Set on a stool, yet another bouquet of penises, knitted in wool, looking like Medusa’s head of serpent hair was just casually abandoned here... The human body is prominently present in a series of powerful watercolours, clearly akin to Louise Bourgeois’ works on paper - which are coincidentally simultaneously exhibited at Xavier Hufkens gallery. Maria Roosen grapples with the concept of the human body in a range of different ways. Then there are also a number of non-body related glass objects, such as the coloured ovoid shape tacked onto a broomstick, looking like a piece of incongruous window-dressing. Or those vivid green shapes, imprisoned between two pallet supports. Maria Roosen presents us with a richly blossoming, fertile world, where bodies are ample and voluptuously in-your-face, and seem to have a life of their own. All breasts are swollen, and so are the phalluses, all bursting with life. They may well be made from inert materials like glass, wool, paper or wood, yet still seem to have been touched by a magic wand belonging to an artist who effortlessly, convincingly, conveys life to everything she touches. Whether it is a brick or the glass mushroom, a drawing or watercolour or a tree trunk dressed in knitwear and sporting a pink glass breast part… all her pieces exude a thoroughly intimate, feminine poetry. Her partner’s tragic sudden death when she was 37 continues to transpire in Maria Roosen’s life and work. Raw suffering, anxiety and sudden solitude spurred her on to immerse herself into her work and turn it into a tangible catharsis. The artist’s determination to emerge from the mire, to reach once more the shores of life and appease her sorrow, to feel powerfully alive, positive… are all emotions present in her work. Visitors will feel the life flowing through the veins, the pulsating heart and the muscles contracting and relaxing, in each and every one of these pieces, and will take great delight in this orgasmic discovery.

  • Maria Roosen | 'L'oeuvre joyeusement charnelle de Maria Roosen' by Claude Lorent | La Libre | Arts Libre



    Maria Roosen's cheerfully carnal oeuvre For her first solo exhibition in Brussels, this Dutch artist, who has represented her country at the Venice Biennale, is presenting us with a celebration of the sexual body. THE FIRST THING THAT WILL STRIKE THE VISITOR is a wealth of colours. Maria Roosen's invigorating, luminous, vibrant, daring colours irradiate the exhibition space with bright hues, creating a festive, relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. The visitor becomes eager to walk in and have a wander around, to take part in it, as Roosen's installation presents itself as an invitation anyone would be glad to accept. One might even get the impression that this is a set stage, with colourful glass bricks competing for attention with the wall, and a kind of huge screen composed of old painted doors and featuring the poetic names of glass colours in gold leaf. Winding through the exhibition rooms, elsewhere, a number of glass objects on white pedestals flaunt their transparency and colourful reflections... Yet before long, when the eye ceases to feel assaulted, dazzled, Roosen's subject matter starts to take shape - literally. A bouquet of flowers becomes a blooming posy of male sexual organs. Jars reveal their decorations, consisting of scenes that are definitely worth a closer look. A mass of earrings hooked into an infatuated-looking face turn out to be tiny little multicoloured breasts... Maria Roosen joyfully celebrates the sexual body and manages to do so without resorting to silliness or salaciousness. No inhibitions This direct link with the corporeal and with sexuality might bring to mind some of Louise Bourgeois' works, because of the use of materials such as glass and textile, and even the watercolours. And yet Roosen's work is decidedly positioned at the other end of the spectrum. Here, not a hint of any torment is to be found, nor any Freudian or Laconian touches or gender oppositions. Carnality rules here, constantly, festively, content to be exactly what it is and to enjoy the pleasure of just being. Maria Roosen's apparent lightness of touch in treating her subject matter is the more surprising because it is extremely rare to encounter such expression, that does not bother to burden itself with any vain precautions nor loses itself in tiresome questioning. Above all, what we are confronted with here is a form of expression that is completely free from inhibitions. This is a pure and simple beauty, a corporeal aesthetic that is easygoing and shines through, in all it has to offer, transformed by Maria Roosen into generous imagery. Tender sensuality It is quite clear why her hymn is so transparent, luminous and colourful, why the shapes she gleefully blows up and multiplies are ample and unapologetically rotund, why their fluidity overflows into watercolours that, as a result, verge on evanescence. Also why, in her art, the masculine joins the feminine in a single sensitivity, a torrid, tender sensuality. Why she uses glass, which radiates, never forgetting its extreme fragility – it can only be approached with delicacy, without ever rushing, respectfully. These objects are far from being decorative and attain an interiority that, though potentially incandescent, is all the more thoughtful. Awakening to life Her metaphoric shapes are songs of praise, like lyrical poems, or carnal hymns. When she reduces the body to a feverish mouth, extended with an ample bosom and suggestive curves, we can easily imagine Magritte, who famously reduced the female body to a face, approving of this sculpture's sensuality, which is as wholesome as it is torrid. When Maria Roosen averts her eyes from the human body and adopts a broader view, she contemplates nature by cherishing a tree, touching it, enveloping it, pampering it. She glorifies a flower's blazing heat and heady perfume in watercolour. Her art is an awakening to a flourishing, invigorating nature. Claude Lorent Practical information Publications Maria Roosen, 'Fruits of Love'. Roberto Polo Gallery, 8-12 Rue Lebeau, 1000 Brussels. Until 15/11. Tuesdays to Fridays, 14h-18h, Saturdays and Sundays 11h-18h. On the occasion of this exhibition, a richly illustrated 88-page catalog was published, with full-page colour reproductions and texts by Maria Roosen and Clare Lilley, Director of Programme, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield. Bio express Born in Oisterwijk (The Netherlands) in 1957, Maria Roosen now lives in Arnhem. Her work has been exhibited internationally since1986, mainly in Europe and group exhibitions in Belgium. She represented the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale in 1995, with Marlène Dumas and Marijke van Warmerdam. Her work is represented in a great number of museum collections in the Netherlands (i.a. Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam) and Belgium (D'hondt-D'haenens, Deurle and Mu.ZEE, Ostend). "The globe is the best and the most beautiful shape, the strongest also. We live on a globe and each cell in our bodies is round. We are constituted of this shape." Maria Roosen



    United Kingdom

    Maria Roosen, artist: 'I do textiles, knitting ... all those things that are not the real things' Karen Wright meets the artist in her studio on the outskirts of Arnhem KAREN WRIGHT Thursday 17 September 2015 Maria Roosen lives and works in a former military base on the outskirts of Arnhem, a small city in the Netherlands, near the German border. She bought the building that she, three friends and her partner Jan Broekstra, a ceramic artist, are currently restoring. Before we go to her studio, we swing by MMK, the local museum, to see a large, outdoor glass branch of apparently supersized currants that look like pendulous breasts. We then detour to her partner's studio to look at the large project Roosen is currently working on for the MST Hospital in Enschede. Her inspiration is Monet's painting of Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies, in Giverny.
She has translated this painted image into a real bridge that will hang high in the atrium of the hospital, its glass lily-pads, carrots, hearts, pearls and frogs fabricated in the Czech Republic, and the steel frame constructed in Arnhem.
Roosen was born in 1957 in Oisterwijk near Tilburg, "in the needle woods", she tells me. Her brother is a forest manager and supplies the silver birch trees that she has used in various sculptural projects – knitting coats some and attaching glass bubbles to others. She tells me cheerfully that "I do textiles, knitting, ceramic, glass, embroidery and watercolour: all those things that are not the 'real things'." When we arrive at her studio, her knitter, Caroline, is already industriously working at one end of the light, bright room. Today she is knitting phalluses, in various shades of pink, to cover a small stool, a piece for Roosen's forthcoming show. Roosen has always worked with collaborators – initially starting her knitting projects with her mother. "My formula is simple: 1 + 1=3". She has explored embroidery using Nepalese embroiderers to translate her watercolours into colourful needlework pictures, transformed in the process by their expertise. Her glass pieces rely on master glass-makers in the Czech Republic, although she closely oversees the process. Many of her projects start as watercolours and are then fabricated into objects in collaboration with others. Roosen lost her first partner in 1984 when he died suddenly of a heart attack. She made several works almost as therapy, including a large sewn hanging. "It helped me through this painful time. The machine was very helpful. It helped draw me forward." She describes the process of drawing a thin straight line from top to bottom on her sewing machine and then starting another line as close as possible to it. She worked on it for hours and hours for months, admitting that the concentration needed, as well as the machine, propelled her. This is a work for which she could not have had collaborators, nor repeat. "Some jobs you have to do for yourself. I don't dare to ask anyone to do it." "Maria Roosen: Fruits of Love" is at the Roberto Polo Gallery, Brussels, until 15 November,




    Maria Roosen at Roberto Polo Gallery and at Park Tilburg Meeting and Contrasts Maria Roosen's colourful glass sculptures have been shown regularly in group exhibitions in Belgium - the last time in Middle Gate (2013), but to date she didn't have a permanent gallery here. A first solo exhibition at Roberto Polo in Brussels has changed this. Anne-Marie POELS The exhibition gives an overview of Maria Roosen's (°1975, Oisterwijk, NL) work from 1988 until now, including a number of very recent pieces next to older work. When Roosen first worked with glass - a medium that led to her first recognition - she melted glass plates. Once she started to blow glass - which she mostly does in cooperation with Czech glassblowers - she soon noticed that this process automatically generated spherical forms. This form runs like a main theme through her whole oeuvre and comes back in, for instance, the belly-rounded jugs she has been making for years: pinkish or deep wine red, with breasts stuck on, a tongue sticking out or a bunch of willies ('Lullenvaas/Dick Vase', 2009), or also as anchors for a tent ('Tent', 1998-2015). Specifically for this exhibition she created a new series, 'Jug Family' (2015), with flesh-coloured pink jugs with added on drawing in drops of glass. The spherical form also returns in the red and black currents ('Berries' and 'Blackberries', both from 2015) which hang in greatly enlarged clusters together; something which also quite literally refers to the 'fruit' in the exhibition title. In any case, nature is an inspiration for Roosen. "My work always comes from a kind of vital force and nature is very inspiring in this: I like to look at how things grow." In the publication accompanying the exhibition, she lovingly sings the beauty of nature by means of a beautiful parable 'The Rich Blackberry Picker' after Godfried Bomans. This is about a blackberry picker who imagines that he is alone in the world and is very happy with the enormous wealth of nature all around him. One day he receives a visit from a traveller and a whole village community in his wake - it turns out they don't manage to see this splendour at all. Breasts and Willies "Bomans' story is quite old-fashioned; when the traveller arrives, the blackberry picker asks 'may I touch you' and he feels his head. I added things. Not only do I let the blackberry picker touch the traveller's head, but also his willy and to move it back and forth, so to discover that the man is exactly the same as himself - this way the story becomes naughtier, it assumes an exciting dimension." This mischievousness, this showing of dicks openly (for instance in the series 'portraits' with dicks on their heads and breasts (again spherical forms, for instance in 'Inside Out', 2009, an installation that was on view in Middle Gate and is now in the collection of Roberto Polo) is an integral part of Roosen's work. All this happens in a very natural way, never aggressive, never provocative. "My work is often about how things come together, man and woman, and then that's part of it. But I get more and more comments on that. When in the '80s I started with the breasts, it was seen as much more normal. Now everyone can look at the most explicit images and I get questions, even from young people, like 'what's this with these penises and breasts'. But I can't dissociate: it belongs to the picture. In earlier times, the difference between man and woman could be defined by saying 'this one wears trousers, the other one a skirt', but these days that doesn't work anymore; now you could say 'this one has a willy, the other one has breasts'. This meeting and the contrasts, hard and soft, transparent-opaque, large-small - that's what my work is about." Outside and Inside Next to the works in glass, Roosen shows textile works and watercolours. For example, a birch tree with a knitted sweater ('Berk/Birch', 2012) or an enormous, white piece of cloth measuring 210 x 78 x 80 cm with blue machine stitching ('When I Think of You', 1988). Or about 'Overalls' (1994), a watercolour showing a number of dancing overalls - at the time she stored it to make space for works for the Venice Biennale in 1995. But it surfaced again and is now being shown for the first time. As a matter of fact, Roosen also makes her glass works on the basis of watercolours: "I often use watercolour to be able to think in glass. People who draw always start from the outside, with contours. But with watercolour you start from the inside. You set down a mass and let form emerge from the inside. This is also what happens when blowing glass." In addition to Brussels, Roosen also shows work in the art space Park in Tilburg (NL): "I have made a conceptual installation with an indoor and an outdoor space." The large hall became the 'outdoors' when she filled it with a real grass lawn with a living plum tree and breast forms in a mirroring material: "You can walk around a bit like Alice in Wonderland and discover all sorts of things. If you look at the mirror breasts, you are engulfed, surrounding space included." In the open gallery space upstairs, overlooking the hall, she made a kind of 'indoors', where you can go and sit, as it were, on wooden stools and knitted dicks to look 'outdoors'. What the exhibition in Brussels will look like she didn't know yet at the time of this interview: "But surely quite different. I think I'll conceive it very classically. Drawings on the wall and objects in the middle of the room. It sometimes can be good to present things quite drily." aria Roosen 'Fruits of Love' until 8 November at Roberto Polo Gallery, Lebeaustraat, Brussels. Open Tuesday-Friday from 2 to 6 pm., Saturday-Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. Maria Roosen 'Looking Back' until 18 October in Park, Wilhelminapark 53, Tilburg, NL. Open Friday-Sunday from 1 to 5 pm. On Sunday 18 October (1.30 pm) there will be an interview with Maria Roosen about her work in De Pont, Wilhelminapark 1, Tilburg, nL. Maria Roosen, 'Overalls', 1994, watercolour on paper, 120 x 700 cm Maria Roosen, 'Willy Head (after Paul McCarthy)', 2014, glass, 35 x 25 x 26 cm, Pačîinek Studio, Lindava, Czech Republic


    6/13/2015 - 9/6/2015

    Rue Lebeau 8-12


    9/10/2015 - 11/15/2015

    Rue Lebeau 8-12

    Inside Out (detail), 2010-2013, glass and metal, 350 cm high ('in situ' exhibition Middle Gate '13, Geel, Belgium)