Saturday, 27 February 2016

Vincent Dams / Broodthaers-Ader-Van Elk-Rietveld-Mondriaan-Magritte-Rembrandt

I remember saying in an interview once, that making fun with someone's work, is like an ode to that person. Like Marcel Duchamp drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa, and saying she's got a wet pussy, hence her mystic smile. I can only see a nice kind of love in these sort of jokes. It's like a schoolyard where you make fun of the girl you actually really like. So in a way, you can see this selection of predecessors, dead teachers, whom I can only speak with through their and my own work, as girls I fell in love with. Awkward dialogues. And making fun. On the playground of the arts.
So I'm pleased they've asked me for this blog, because now, within this context, I have the opportunity to show and tell you a bit about these particular kind of works (perhaps I could call them 'loveletters' from now on) within my oeuvre, wich are all, on purpose of course, very close to it's origin. Shown together, for the first time. Nicely with the fallen heroes.

1. Marcel Broodthaers/Vincent Dams

The first time I saw Broodthaers' museum cap, it made me think of a book by André Malraux called 'La Musée Imaginaire'. I once found a German copy of the book on a fleemarket and as I remember (it's a long time ago since I've read it, and also, my German is not that well) it was about the idea that a museum becomes obsolete after photograpy and it's reproduction in books make it possible for all people to enjoy art in their own homes. I imagined Broodthaers cap as being architecture. A building, covering the head, embracing the museum of the mind. But then, thinking of my own mind. I rather thought of it as the depot of a museum. So I made my own cap.

1. Marcel Broodthaers
Casquette 'museum'

1. Vincent Dams
'Depot' Pet

2. Bas Jan Ader/Vincent Dams

We're still not telling.

2. Bas Jan Ader
I'm too sad to tell you

2. Vincent Dams
I'm too glad to tell you

3. Ger van Elk/Vincent Dams

First year of the academy a teacher told me to look at Mr. van Elk's work. He said we shared a same kind of struggle with esthetics. I don't know about that. But I do know I instantly fell in love with 'The Discovery of the Sardines'. It's nice energy combined with the absurdity felt like a great freedom. In the years following this discovery, every now and then, when I'm taking a walk, I fill a crack in honor of Mr. van Elk, with whatever is laying around or I got in my bag. But no sardines. I never really have sardines in my bag.

3. Ger van Elk
The Discovery of the Sardines

3. Vincent Dams
The Discovery of the very, very, very Lost Mohican, 2006
& The Discovery of the Kinder Schoko Bons, 2010

4. Gerrit Rietveld/Vincent Dams

In one of the secondhand stores in my hometown Eindhoven they have a big glass kabinet in wich they display the nicer things they've received, on wich you can bid. One time there was this Rietveld chair, on wich of course I bid too low. And ever since I really wanted to have this famous chair. I googled the plans, but didn't make a copy untill years later when I was working on a project about a fictional character, for whom I invented the term 'outsider­critic' (that's the arthistorian/critic equivalent for outsider­artist), who lived in a riverboathouse in the woods where he was rewriting the history of art on his own particular terms. According to his son, the father had no furniture except this Rietveld chair he made for himself out of deadwood. So I made that one instead. The other one I did, the children's version, was after a sketch for a poster called 'Rietveld from Space'. I imagined that it's red back was stretched and came from miles and miles and miles away, from a different galaxy. This looked so stupid, that I just had to make it. But apart from these lovely baby's, I also still wan't to make a proper one. It's such a great chair.

4. Gerrit Rietveld
Red Blue Chair
c. 1923

4.a. Vincent Dams
Bernard D. Bogart's Rietveld out of Deadwood Chair

4.b. Vincent Dams
Baby's Got Back (Rietveld from Space)

5. Piet Mondriaan/Vincent Dams

What if our beloved Piet wasn't a strict, milkywhite Dutchman, but a bit too smooth, bronzed Italian guy? This work sprung from the fact that I haven't been on vacation for a couple of years now. So the other title for this work was "Bij gebrek aan een kraakheldere blauwe zee vakantie, kunt u ook op geheel andere wijze uw oerhollandse rechtlijnigheid van een mediteraanse schwung voorzien",wich roughly translates as "Lacking a crystal clear blue sea holiday, there's also a completely different way to provide your traditional Dutch linearity with some Mediterranean panache". So, there you have it.

5. Piet Mondriaan
Compositie met geel en rood
oil on canvas
52 x 35 cm

5. Vincent Dams
Piedro Mondriano, Composizione con giallo e rosso
oil on paper
100 x 70 cm

6. René Magritte/Vincent Dams

In 'La clairvoyance' we see Magritte, the painter himself, looking at an egg and painting a bird. I had the idea of making a whole series of drawings, a kind of cliché narrative about what would happen next. The bird get's eaten by a cat. The cat get's bitten by a dog. The dog get's kicked by a boy. The boy get's slapped by a man. The man get's hit by a truck. The truck drives off a cliff hitting a dam. The dam brakes and floods the town... Something like that, but I only made a drawing with the cat.

6. René Margritte
De helderziendheid (zelfportret)
oil on linen
54,5 x 65,5 cm

6. Vincent Dams
René Resumé
pencil on paper
35 x 25 cm

7. Rembrandt van Rijn/Vincent Dams

Once, drunk at night, I discovered a secret selfportrait of Rembrandt in one of his etchings. But up till now, no art historian has taken this seriously. Allthough we can all clearly see it's there. Calling this a case of pareidolia seems utterly naïve. :)

7. Vincent Dams
Rembrandt's Secret Selfportrait
print and pencil drawing
8 x 12 cm

Vincent Dams (NL)

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Andrew Crane / JMW Turner

JMW Turner
Sunset on the Coast
watercolour on paper
309 x 485 mm
Collection Tate

Andrew Crane (UK)
Shadow in an empty place
gesso and acrylic on canvas
300 x 350 mm

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Peter Otto / J.B. Jongkind

J.B. Jongkind
Rue Notre-Dame
oil on canvas
39 x 47 cm
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

February 9, 2016, the day of issue of this post, is the 125th dying day of J.B. Jongkind.

With J.B. Jongkind in the street
A Jongkind in the Rijksmuseum is indispensable. It represents an episode that colorizes the cradle of French impressionism. Symbolic is that the national flag in the life of the painter tilted from horizontal to vertical. The Dutchman Johan Barthold Jongkind (born in Lattrop, Overijssel in 1819 and deceased in the French Cote Saint André near Grenoble in 1891) remains a French artist for the French. In art history I compare him with a stray pea in the freezer compartment of the Dutch refrigerator. Around the green bean frozen leftovers and ready-made meals are removed one by one from the freezer. The dried pea continues to wander like a vagrant. But once thawed, put him on a sponge and spring jumps you in the face. That phenomenon is more than a predictable trick after 130 years. Jongkind was a wolf to himself, he suffered hallucinations, became confused and languished repeatedly. Claude Monet, who learned the approach to light and the brushstroke as a pupil of the Dutch pioneer, described the morbid personality of Jongkind with the observation: "... Jongkind est mort pour l'art ". Monet meant: "Jongkind is lost for the art." But the man had nine lives. He was mercifully helped by, among others Madame Fesser and is buried beside her.
I adore the pea Jongkind in different ways. He is an outsider. The painter, who is refused to salons, no longer participates in the flirtation among celebrities. His contemporaries, the Goncourt brothers (the two men had a third eye for the avant-garde) are starting to recognize him as the first and only original spirit that knows to express innovation. In their eyes the rest of the painters' guild is asleep and constantly trying to, left or right, go past the old Delacroix at a snail's pace. The Dutchman appears to have a convincing hand with his sketches in the open air. Often he paints or draws from direct observation. In the studio he starts off with the summary notes and uses his sublime color memory. Can you describe a color, and then reproduce it? That apple green with a hint of white at the edges with a dark pastel in blue gray? In his boat and harbor scenes Jongkind can do precisely that, so it seems to us today. This painting is made on the street, judging the size. Jongkind conducts us casually to every corner of the scene. Each cornice, in-between wall and chimney has its own character. Even the outside walls have two or three shades of beige which he applied wet-on-wet. This creates a spell. In each plane is a brushstroke that matches with a light contour in the next plane. Thus he achieves a motion with a convincing point of rest. He does this with the layout and the heavy shadows, where again little figures in detail appear. Jongkind didn't copy photography, but he recorded and absorbed the whole scene with a sense of small details. With what suppleness and control the work is created.
That's part of the mystery surrounding Jongkind, he was unbearable to himself, a man suffering from life itself. In him raged a genius that didn't spare him, he didn't dance the polonaise in the painters movement of that time. I see him as the pioneer who exposed himself to great challenges, including sorrow, and yet was able to give back a universal view of the world. Fleming Maurice Guilliams wrote a poem in 1943 called "The man at the window". Actually, in this poem the artist steals a piece from reality and returns it through art. Just because of that removal and return, we become aware what we have missed earlier and why we are going to look better.
This 'Rue Notre-Dame' by J.B. Jongkind from 1866 is an example in that movement. This painting evokes an era. The street scene still appears as everyday life. Although without taxis, cars, advertising and wide skirts. Jongkind can hardly be caught using quick brushwork and smooth sentiments. His perception shakes up our view. He intensifies perception with his brushstroke. That ability has been recognized with awe and slight jealousy in his time. By his hand a sequence between all kinds of shapes with their contours appears to exist. As though the whole image houses a subcutaneous planning that we begin to recognize with attentive examination. Jongkind gives a name to things and at the same time has a mysterious force run along in the picture. Would you have asked Jongkind to work out a storyboard for a scene from a movie, then we stand here in the Rue Notre-Dame, looking at the next moment what will happen. Thanks to J.B. Jongkind, in late May or June 1866, my estimation.

Peter Otto, 2013-2016

Peter Otto
Vituslicht nr. 10
ink, watercolor, pencil on watercolor paper 300 grams
25 x 29,3 cm

Peter Otto (NL)
Vituslicht nr. 2
ink, watercolor, pencil on watercolor paper 300 grams
25 x 29,3 cm