My father lived in a world where certain expectations about the future were normal. You studied to get a nice job, you worked hard to become successful and you saved money to enjoy life after a certain age. At that time life was not predictable from day to day, but you knew what you were, where you belonged, how things were supposed to be and what was expected of you. The future was not certain but you lived with the expectations of things to come: graduating, finding a partner, working and getting a promotion, having children, and so on.
We have lost these assurances about the future. We live in the smallest possible communities, a family with hopefully a partner and one or two children at most. Very often not even that. We wander about hip workplaces, from project team to project team and drink our coffee alone behind our laptop. Every day is a party, an adventure, planning no longer works, agility is key. We live with a bucket list, but what our futures will look like: we have no idea and don’t even want to.
This new world demands of us agility, creativity, communication skills and to always be willing to learn. Knowing our own personality has become increasingly important. Behind the assembly line it didn’t matter who you were. In the village environment, in church, it didn’t matter what you thought or wanted. You were supposed to behave. Nowadays you have to realize your potential. Discover your true core and take your self to work. You have friends because you feel a connection, not because you happened to be in the same class. More than ever, it’s important to be an individual. More than ever, it’s important to know who you are and what you want.
The ancient Greek aphorism ‘gnothi seauton’, ‘know thyself’ is more relevant today than ever.
For many people, a look in the mirror can be frightening. Fears, shame and the monsters that haunt us from our past appear. We would rather not see them eye-to-eye.
The artist Merel Ellen shows us her own mirror in an enchanting way. She realizes that to be human at this time, one must embrace the mirror. She does so with an all-consuming courage.
Her work shows us what she finds. Almost unfiltered we find ourselves in the nightmare landscape of her interior. She shows us fears, addictions, dependencies, anger and loneliness without any restraint. An analysis of her deepest feelings and tendencies, her uninhibited style of painting puts in perspective that which doesn’t want to be put into perspective.
She places her protagonists in desolate landscapes. She shows us almost classic scenes of individuals who are being chased, attacked and torn apart. Chained to a crude past, longing for peace and beauty. Her work is psychological without being psychologizing. It is as if to say the deepest fears are only laughable beings in the full light of day.
Her palette meanders from the precise and detailed to the uninhibited and direct. Her use of color is one of her great strengths. With this she sets the atmosphere, brings tension and lets her creations live and tremble.
The work of Merel Ellen is of a brute force. So brutal that beauty arises. For today’s advancing, wandering and lonely man, recognition is the access to reassurance, perspective and comfort. And to ourselves. Because Merel Ellen shows what lives in all of us, what crawls and gnaws. She reveals the monsters that haunt us too. She shows us that we too must face them to be human in today’s world.”
J. Busscher (author, advisor, executive lecturer HKU, guest teacher Rietveld Academy, Theatre School Amsterdam en Willem de Kooning Academy)
J. Busscher (auteur, adviseur, executive lecturer HKU en gastdocent Rietveldacademie, Theaterschool Amsterdam en Willem de Kooning Academie)