"Le cabinet de curiosités", 1997
oil and gold leaf on linen. 33¾" x 26". 85.5 x 71 cm. © Susanne Schuenke 1997
This small piece of furniture revives the Baroque tradition of the collector's cabinets
with their precious, strange, and rare and items.
The surreal cabinet rises from mystical waters and tells of a world of sensations, and
dreams; narrating about life through both material and immaterial elements. Joys and
longings ascend with secret misty vails from the drawers - some remain closed to the
observer's eye, others burst open to reveal their treasures.
The allusions to the Five Senses are given with paintings and ripe grapes, opulent tulips,
a bird and a width of embroidered Japanese silk: seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing and touching.
The world of the arts includes paintings, glass- and silverware, Islamic ceramic and
Chinese porcelain, carved boxes and an architectural model. Books and letters, writing
tools and a chess figure belong to the realm of spirit, of knowledge and of learning.
Nature's kingdom is represented through gems and shells, flowers and fruits, an audacious
bird and a glimpse into the infinite sky.
The central, column-rimmed niche of honor of the cabinet is dedicated to the three stars
forming the "belt" of Orion.
If one follows the big bubbles, a traditional iconographic metaphor for Vanitas, there in
the bubble's reflexes one finds the primary stars of Orion to form the complete constellation.
The "eternal" stars embedded in the fragile and short living bubbles recall not only the
transitory nature of man but also demonstrate again the dimensions of the cosmos, still
incomprehensible to the human mind.