Jeanne Opgenhaffen’s unique genius captures even the grandest, most powerful universal forces of evolving nature and presents them undiminished to the viewer on a small scale. Her inspired use of intricate, organic repetition, confined within the rectangle provides us with a precise yet utterly comprehensive definition of natural forces, the landscapes they shape and indeed even the creatures that crawl, swim or fly there.
The artist assembles hundreds—sometimes thousands—of delicately and individually shaped pieces of porcelain into a whole. Each is related its neighbor, but sings with a different voice, a different resonance. Opgenhaffen combines them into rhythmic compositions that speak to us about the nature of space, movement, growth and change. Indeed, she shows us the evolution of the universe on the micro scale, sometimes in white, other times in subtle shades of color.
“I try to express my feelings within the boundary of a square. I hope to show the essence of strong movement in a simple way, made with single basic elements.” What she is pursuing, it seems to me, is nothing less than life of the entire universe writ small enough to hang on a wall. That must certainly be impossible. Yet there it hangs, eloquently declaring great truths about where we are and where we once were and where we might yet be. This is art that freezes both depth and movement into a porcelain moment in time.
Jeanne Opgenhaffen was born in Nieuwkerken-Waas, Belgium, in 1938. She studied at Koninklijke Academie and National Hoger Institute, Antwerpen. Her work with natural and colored porcelain is widely exhibited and occupies pride of place in major museums and private collections around the world.