Michelangelo once said: “The sculpture already exists within the marble block, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”
I have had the pleasure to follow the Norwegian sculptor and author Barbro Raen Thomassen’s visual work of art for many years, although from a distance. The artist creates sculptures that turn the attention to the overlooked, insignificant and the invisible. Nature is her inspiration, and her work reflects the shapes found in seeds, butterfly eggs, peppercorn and much more. Through the microscope she studies forms and curves, and out of stone she makes sculptures strong and visible. She never copies nature, but lets the art follow its own demand.
Thomassen’s sculpture PEPPER – THE RISE AND FALL OF VENICE which was exhibited in La Biennale di Venezia in 2019, is now placed outside Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall in Arendal which is the largest gallery of contemporary art in the southern part of Norway.
The title of the sculpture refers to the fact that pepper made Venice great in the 14th century – and led to its fall in 1497 when Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India, and Portugal took over the trade.
It is chiseled out in Norwegian Emerald Pearl, and the following text is carved into the stone:
PEPPER – THE RISE AND FALL OF VENICE. I, BARBRO RAEN THOMASSEN, CREATED THIS BLACK PEPPER IN STONE IN THE YEAR 2019. I´M NORWEGIAN AND A WOMAN. I´M NOT ON FACEBOOK AND I HAVE NO MOBILE PHONE. PRAY FOR ME.
The ballast seed object (Euphorbia peplus) is placed in the new City Garden in Grimstad, Norway, between the library and the sea, inaugurated in 2019.
Out of something hardly visible as a seed, sophisticated, surrealistic and at times erotic shapes emerge great and mighty.
The sculpture is placed in front of the Vennesla Council House
in Norway in 2018.According to Thomessen’s book “Jord og himmel om du vil” the apple is a symbol of all the possibilities there are for each and every one of us. We all have the potential to taste, to examine, to discover and to imagine. Sometimes we are forced to change our way of thinking, like cutting the apple crosswise, to reveal a beautiful star, a guiding star that is showing the way towards goals and meaning.