Schilderkunst OP DRIFT (Painting ADRIFT)
Hadassah Emmerich, Lizan Freijsen, Gijs Frieling, Christie van der Haak and Mark Kent
Monique Scholte, email@example.com
Available from 31 August 2014
Stedelijk Museum Schiedam
The exhibition entitled Schilderkunst OP DRIFT is as exuberant as it is expansive. It features five artists who give free rein to the art of painting. In this case, it is painting XXL, which cannot be confined within any frame. Almost all the work has been placed directly on the wall. It occupies large surfaces, even complete exhibition rooms, from floor to ceiling, corner to corner. The general public is surrounded by an unchecked flood of images, which have nevertheless been tailor-made. Here, painting surpasses architecture with decorative patterns, computer-operated film projections, and pictorial wall coverings of textile.
As was the case with the British Arts & Crafts movement in the nineteenth century, which advocated a unity of art and design in societal life, painting has been assigned more than an applied function here too. It evolves into a piece of furniture, tapestry or carpet. It changes into a folding screen or other spatial construction, like a life-size show-box annex chapel that dismisses the idea of the museum space as a neutral zone: the modernistic ideal threatens to go up in flames. But whereas the Arts & Crafts movement rejected industrial production and the media of the future, the Painting ADRIFT exhibition actually displays a liberating unity of discipline. Due to the bond with architecture, the public arrive not only in a spatial form of painting, but also in an inner world: a mental space.
The images that engulf the wall are replete with thoughts and feelings. They provoke existentialist questions via archetypical figures and cinematic, musical or literary allusions. They refer to the cycle of life and death, for example, or the blending of cultures. Each glimpse of emptiness is contested with narrative ornamentation that reflects the complexity of our existence in an overwhelming world. The participants in Schilderkunst OP DRIFT do not recoil from decorative patterns, even when their work is extremely critical or investigative. The traditional functions of decoration, such as the consecration of church interiors or the embellishment of palaces by means of splendour and luxury, are unravelled and reformed. Hadassah Emmerich, who mixes east and west, high and low, male and female in her work, speaks of ‘existential decoration’. And Mark Kent even mentions ‘anti-decoration’. He decorates nothing, but rather breaches décor and decorum. The heraldic patterns of Christie van der Haak are presented in a dysfunctional setting, to say noting of the aesthetics Lizan Freijsen has borrowed from fungi and stains.
Finally, Gijs Frieling painted the wall to demolish it, paradoxically enough. Inspired by the song ‘Burning down the House’ by the Talking Heads, the desire arises to introduce life into art and, vice versa, to place art at the centre of life. There are several books available of the artists.
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