September 28, 2004 - Van Abbemuseum - Journal #7: Tomma Abts – Vincent Fecteau
September 28, 2004

Journal #7: Tomma Abts – Vincent Fecteau

Journal #7: Tomma Abts – Vincent Fecteau
2 October 2004 – 23 January 2005

Van Abbemuseum
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The Van Abbemuseum is showing the visual work of Tomma Abts (Germany, 1967) and Vincent Fecteau (US, 1969) for the first time in the Netherlands and the first time in a European museum. The dual solo exhibitions represent two current positions within the traditional disciplines of painting and sculpture. Both artists explore, each in a completely individual manner, the possibilities of an abstract language of form. Yet at the same time their work can be termed anything but abstract. They formulate detailed, actual proposals that are quite separate from any movement or artistic agenda.

Tomma Abts and Vicent Fecteau were also invited to select works from the museum collection. Both artists installed an exhibition space with their own subjective choices and combined the result with their own work: Fecteau showed drawings by Abts, while Abts selected a three-dimensional object by Fecteau. At the museum, particularly with regard to the collection, the initial and original forms of artworks are documented and conserved. At the same time, the museum does not impede their transformation, but rather seeks to promote it. The thinking behind Abts and Fecteau curating the collection is an interesting experiment in that direction.

Tomma Abts lives and works in London since the mid-Nineties. Her small-sized paintings appear to have been created from zero or from a productive ignorance. Semi-geometric motifs appear in layer upon layer of applied paint. Certain lines or surfaces are painted over or, in fact, made visible again. The completely autonomous compositions hover between materialism and illusionism. The organising and reorganising of forms is typical of Abts’ exploration and begins afresh with every new painting, even though the various works speak the same sociolect. Their similar size – always 48 x 38 cm – and titles originating from the same source emphasise this latter aspect. The format suggest a portrait-like presence and the titles a reference to strange kinds of proper names.

San Francisco is the base from which Vincent Fecteau operates. In his studio he works protractedly on small-scale, three dimensional objects. Using papier-mache, foam, balsa wood and found objects he makes ambiguous constructions. They apparently hesitate between being models for improbable structures and autonomous sculpture. The many details point to Fecteau’s fascination for physical and conceptual aspects of a handmade object. He is continually searching for balance. Actual objects like a piece of string, half a nutshell or a mundane drawing pin focus the attention on their imaginary shapes. At the same time he sometimes reworks and carefully copies the texture of materials – Fecteau’s objects can sometimes show deliberately applied damage or sloppiness, or a small piece of wood can be real or made of paper. Like Abts, Fecteau works with great concentration on a new visual language.

The two solo exhibitions are accompanied by a new issue of journal.

Tomma Abts (1967, D) lives and works in London and in recent years has had solo exhibitions, among others, at greengrassi, London, Galerie Nourbakhsh, Berlin, and Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne. This autumn she will be participating in the group exhibition Formalismus: Moderne Kunst Heute at Kunstverein, Hamburg, and is invited for the 54th Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, followed by a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel in 2005.
Vincent Fecteau (1967, US) lives and works in San Francisco. His first American solo exhibition Matrix in 2002 was organised by UC Berkeley Art Museum and the travelled to the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The same year he also participated in the Whitney Biennial in the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In recent years he has had solo shows at Feature Inc, New York, and greengrassi, London.

The exhibition journal # 7 is partly made possible through the support of: North Brabant province, Den Bosch, Public Affairs Office – American Embassy, The Hague and the British Council, London.

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