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Every picture has its shadows and it has some source of light.

Blindness, blindness and sight.

The perils of benefactors, the blessings of parasites.

Threatened by all things, devil of cruelty.

Drawn to all things, devil of delight.

Mythical devil of the ever-present laws, governing blindness, blindness and sight.



Joni Mitchell, one of the most outstanding singer-songwriters of the 20th century and a very talented painter herself, wrote these lyrics in 1974. In their sublime beauty and inherent ambiguity, they perfectly reflect the art work of Barbara Cardone, who was born in Lausanne (Switzerland) around the same time and is now living and working in Brussels.

Barbara’s oil paintings, on canvas or wood, and her monotypes and drawings, on paper, trigger the same intense reaction on the careful observer as this song on its listeners. We are being thrown back and forth between opposing poles. What at first seems obscure may turn out to be the beginning of something bright. But the opposite may also be true.

All her works have this special feature, which has become her signature. They are the fruit of the artist’s intimate reflections over a longer period of her life. Bouncing between joy and pain, night and day, fear and hope, wrong or right, they remind us of our own ever changing mental states and processes, as we have all experienced them one way or another.

Barbara’s astonishing artistic technique, gained as a self-taught painter, and perfected over more than two decades since then, allows her to masterfully translate her thoughts and feelings into the artworks shown in this exhibition. Going back and forth between construction and destruction, her paintings consist of several layers being applied onto the surface, sometimes being erased to make the underlying color visible again, and sometimes leaving the initial layer untouched until the final stage of the painting.

Whether they show human beings or not, all her works express different elementary facets of the human condition. In her series “It’s happening again”, people in specific situations, like the seated man (is it really him?) or the parading girls, suddenly find their minds caught by something strange. This is both frightening and fascinating, but everybody knows this feeling for sure.

Even the objects Barbara shows in her works seem to be inhabited by something we do not immediately understand. A light beam often always plays a central role in the image, as if it were a divine sign of an upcoming event. This is a key element for us humans in these strange times, where the pandemic and natural disasters have had their destructive effects, but have also led to new forms of compassion and solidarity.

Barbara Cardone’s work has this special sensitivity, reflecting such dualities in our lives.

Text: Robert Klotz

More information:



Rivoli Building
Chaussée de Waterloo 690, Brussels, Belgium

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