Prints : Yslaire

"Le Ciel au-dessus de l’Atomium" - Yslaire
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"Le Ciel au-dessus de l’Atomium" - Yslaire


A son of Brussels, the creator of XXe Ciel and Ciel au-dessus de Bruxelles could not but be captivated by the Atomium and its symbolism. He succeeds in marrying, in a virtuoso graphic composition, notions of past and future; then again, such concepts are often less than stable when forced apart…

For Yslaire, the creator of Sambre, the Atomium represents the dream of the ’fifties: “Science would save the world through progress. In fact, the nine spheres proclaim the conquest of outer space. In their form, they suggest the planets of the solar system just as much as they do Sputnik’s exploration of the stratosphere a year earlier. From the atom to the universe, the infinitesimally small meets the infinitely vast. It’s magical.” This great champion of E-P Jacobs’ work declares, with a smile, that “one day, the Atomium will set off for outer space like a rocket. No-one has admitted it, but it’s the spaceship from “Blake et Mortimer”, disguised as a monument.

Yslaire was born in 1957, at a time when construction of the Atomium was under way. He sees no element of coincidence in that. “I have the sense that this monument belongs to me, that we came into being at the same time. It’s a kind of home to me. Maybe I emerged from its steel globe… It’s a delicate being, it’s unable to stand (eight spheres supported by one solitary sphere!). It’s quite majestic (one feels really small when one walks beneath it) and modern (though that word makes it dated).

Yslaire has chosen to bring together in this composition the enduring symbols of Brussels: the Atomium, Saint Michael and the Mannekin Pis. “I saw straight away the material continuity linking the steel of the monument and the metal of the cladding.” It’s not surprising to discover that the creator of is as fascinated by the conquest of space as by the sky. “I’m quite taken by the idea of linking an angel and a naked little boy. Brussels is a knowing blend of vaulting ambition and reassuring vulgarity. Behind every quiescent Belgian one will find an angel fighting his demons and a chubby-cheeked little boy who smiles away as he takes a piss. The spiritual and the prosaic…

From this forged link between Sputnik and the stars – a salute to the enduring star created by Lucien de Roeck as the logo for Expo ´58 – a vision of the future begins to take shape. “Saint Michel, patron-saint of Brussels and consummate artist, evokes the medieval past of my native city. The association of the two creates, I hope, a distillation of an epoch, a moment in time, a little glimpse of eternity…