Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Folkert de Jong, ‘We deal* you loose’, 2006
Polyuretane, styrofoam. Courtesy of the artist.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
18 February 2006 17 April 2006
Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum
3015 CX Rotterdam
The darker side of existence exercises an almost irresistible attraction on society. This fascination is the theme of the international group exhibition DARK, assembled by guest curator Jan Grosfeld and Rein Wolfs. DARK is a presentation of recent developments within contemporary art; a confrontation of differing contemporary artistic visions. The exhibition in the atmospheric spaces of the museums Van der Steur wing includes work by Luc Tuymans, Marc Bijl, Rita Ackermann, Banks Violette, Angus Fairhurst, Folkert de Jong, Dirk Braeckman, Terence Koh, Avner Ben-Gal and Kara Walker.
Common to each work in the show is an interest in the darker side of life.
However, DARK is more than simply dim or unlit. Rather it refers to a particular contemporary state of mind, with a complex of different and sometimes antithetical aspects. DARK is sometimes melancholy, music can play a role, but often does not. Indeed sometimes DARK is actually is even simply radiant white, as in the obsessive white powder installations by Terence Koh.
Contemporary art is usually presented in so-called white cube spaces, or indeed black boxes for video projections. However, DARK manifests itself in the more impure spaces where the old masters are normally displayed. These galleries are especially appropriate to a project that deals with impurity, with the anti-pure. A contemporary impurity comes to life against the backdrop of its historical counterpart.
A darker state of mind
Luc Tuymans expresses DARKs state of mind through his oppressive images and specific subject choices, whilst Marc Bijl has a sort of rebellious Gothic stance. Terence Koh employs the decadence of gold leaf and white powder. Banks Violette researches the underbelly of American culture with clinical precision. A soundtrack of electronic music brings the visitor back to the present day. This is the authenticity of an artist who understands that today successful sampling must come with a healthy dollop of intelligence. Romanticism is at the heart of Angus Fairhursts work. A glossy pitch-black gorilla, contemplating itself like an Ur-Narcissus, is an icon of impudent and animalistic subjectivity, which is more than at home in our ego age.
Dirk Braeckmans black on black images eloquently represent the DARK state of mind as does the mysterious concealed aggression of Rita Ackermann and Rachel Harrison. Folkert de Jong explores the darker side of American society, as does Georg Gatsas, whose court photography illuminates the grimy New York cultural scene. In her black silhouettes Kara Walker takes on themes such as race, gender and sexuality. Daniel Hesidence voices the DARK mentality with a Munch-like expression in an sublimated abstract visual language, Avner Ben-Gal with a darker implicit narrative containing a mixture of the commonplace and the psychedelic. Jan Lauwers takes on the themes of death and jealousy with a painful theatricality. The shameless advertising aesthetic employed by Fumie Sasabuchi is sometimes shocking, much like the bestial narcissism in the work of Angus Fairhurst. Juergen Teller is in search of a singular icon in his sons birth announcement.
Now and then one can find stylistic and formal relations between the works but these are not the dominant concern. Content, emotion and authentic values play a more important role here. DARK is an exhibition that elucidates the current zeitgeist and creates a forum for a new, contemporary form of authenticity.
The exhibition DARK has been made possible with the generous support of Christies.
Rita Ackermann (1968, Budapest, H)
Avner Ben-Gal (1966, Askalon, I)
Marc Bijl (1970, Leerdam, NL)
Dirk Braeckman (1958, Eeklo, B)
Angus Fairhurst (1966, Kent, UK)
Georg Gatsas (1978, Grabs SG, CH)
Gregory Crewdson (1962, Brooklyn NY, USA)
Rachel Harrison (1966, New York, USA)
Daniel Hesidence (1975, Ohio NY, USA)
Folkert de Jong (1972, Alkmaar, NL)
Terence Koh (1977, Beijing, China)
Jan Lauwers (1957, Antwerp, B)
Fumie Sasabuchi (1975, Tokyo, J)
Juergen Teller (1964, Erlangen, D)
Luc Tuymans (1958, Mortsel, B)
Banks Violette (1973, Ithaca NY, USA)
Kara Walker (1969, Stockton CA, USA)