Bas van den Hurk
Opening March 21st – @ Rod Barton, London
Having a background in Fine Arts and a University degree in Philosophy, I’m influenced by both. In my work I combine sources. Ranging from fashion designer Sonia Delaunay, with her beautiful colors and patterns, to contemporary theorist David Joselit with his idea that today painting is ‘beside itself’.
At the academy I was trained as a painter. After the academy I travelled and exhibited all over the world, from Tokyo to Peru, from Norway to Spain, making slow moving video installations based on painting as a duo artist. Now I’m working as a professor at my old academy – the nr.1 MFA in the Netherlands – training students in practice as well in research. For me it is important to inspire young people and be inspired by them.
Painting always was my biggest longing. My practice circles around questions of the possibilities of painting today. What I try to achieve is contribute to a discourse on painting. In an era where the potential to make new remarkable gestures seems exhausted, I instead productively research discursive networks, modes and models of painting and manual (re)production. Lorenzo Benedetti says about my work: “Bas van den Hurk’s works display a certain Modernist formality, with forms and objects that revive a formal abstract dynamic by paying close attention to composition. At the same time (…) the artist seeks a dialogue with space: the structure becomes a blend of artwork and display, midway between showing and seeing.”
In my work I choose to a have a permanent dialogue between autonomy – works on their own and me working alone – and heteronomy – seeking connections with space, light, other artists, friends, books, texts, collaborative actions and contexts. I’m always eager to learn and to develop. I feed my practice in unforeseen ways, – let’s make suits! – With new experiences – work at the beach – , new techniques – silkscreen printing – , and collaborations – I’m the co-founder and director of Whatspace.nl foundation. But then I return to the studio and see what’s really mine of these experiences and experiments, what I can integrate into my work.
Successful projects that I participated in over the last years where Comrades of Time, edition one that I curated and participated in, and edition two at Cell Project Space where Hans Ulrich Obrist has gotten interest in my work, a three person show at Autocenter, the space in Berlin where curators worldwide have their eyes fixed on, two exhibitions at De Vleeshal in Middelburg with the above mentioned curator Lorenzo Benedetti, also curator of the Dutch Pavillion in the last Venice Biennial and of course the three shows that I did with Rod Barton in London. Furthermore I participated in shows at Liste Basel, The Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Dordrechts Museum and numerous exhibitions all over the world from Chicago to Brussels and from Martin van Zomeren Gallery in Amsterdam to the Kunsthall in Norway, from New York to Padova in Italy. In the last years I’ve exhibited with artists like Josh Smith, Gedi Sibony, Wade Guyton, Matias Faldbakken, Nikolas Gambaroff, Paul Cowan, Michiel Ceulers, Magali Reus, Marli Mul, Andre Butzer, Amanda Ross-Ho, David Ostrowski, to name a few.
I make paintings, collages, fashion, works on paper, objects and sometimes combine them in installations. I like to work with materials, such as silk and fine woven linen but also copper and concrete. I sometimes add things to my works such as necklaces, or candy wraps. It is Painting Beside Itself. I like to work with off- colors: a beautiful olive green, a grayish blue, a deep red, a chocolate brown and combine this with shiny silks in golden and silvery tones. In my latest works I explore textile painting and (collaborative) silk
screenings on diverse materials such as fabrics, paintings and self designed posters, made into interstices between painting, fashion and printing. Works are displayed not only on the walls but sometimes also on floors or sculptural and hanging devices. This wide range of materials and opposite features reflects for me the real oppositions that there are in everyday life.
I choose more and more to paint in a performativity way. I put fabrics in a bath, let them drip on other works, attack the canvas with paint, sometimes quick without thinking, sometimes slow (at the end), putting things in place. I get into a dialogue with the canvas, coming close, letting go, coming back. I know how to engage with this combination of different techniques in different speeds. The works are the result of this process, they look on the one hand fragile, vulnerable, like you want to touch them, but on the other hand they can be humorous, hard and sharp too. Care is the new cool, I agree, but sometimes you need a kick in the butt. My works have this ambiguous quality of being both, on the one hand almost a superficial, often beautiful, almost decorative piece and on the other hand as well a layered work, that contains the traces of all sorts of actions on several levels, that can also reveal an uncanny feeling. As a viewer you can enjoy the (beautiful) surface as well as enter the work at a deeper level.
Jan van Woensel says in a text about my work:
Unique about my work is that I combine painting and thinking, it’s an intellectual driven painting practice. A practice that sometimes leaves the canvas and tries to reach beyond that realm to a bigger environment. I want to connect, the idea of comradery is important to me. I want to create a feeling of becoming mutual witnesses, the object to be in between you and me. But at the same time I want to emphasize how difficult this is, that there might never be a real, thoroughly connection. The world has become a strange place that we cannot completely logically understand anymore, but art offers the possibility of an alternative way of understanding, or maybe better, offers a way that keeps this ‘not-understanding’ open. I relate here to what Jan Verwoert says in his essay ‘You Make Me Feel Mighty Real’: through a work of art spectators can become mutual witnesses of truly unexplainable moments. With my works I want to make it possible to share these moments:
“There it is. It’s mine now, though it shouldn’t have been. It’s yours now, too, though it needn’t be. There it is. Just there.”