JCJ Vanderheyden: Reflections / André Stempfel: An Amsterdam Retrospective

JCJ Vanderheyden: Reflections / André Stempfel: An Amsterdam Retrospective

The Merchant House

From left: JCJ Vanderheyden, Untitled (Airspace), 1992, 27 x 36 cm. André Stempfel, l’endroit l’envers déboulé, 1998. Acrylic on canvas on wood. Installation view.

May 17, 2023
JCJ Vanderheyden
May 31–August 26, 2023
André Stempfel
An Amsterdam Retrospective
April 15–July 23, 2023
Amsterdam Art Week: May 31–June 4
Opening: June 2, 4–7pm
Talk on Vanderheyden & Stempfel: June 4, 3–5pm
The Merchant House
Herengracht 254
1016 BV Amsterdam
Hours: Friday–Saturday 1–6pm

T +31 20 845 5955

JCJ Vanderheyden: Reflections
This is the first survey show in Amsterdam of JCJ Vanderheyden (1928–2012), one of the most important Dutch artists, since his retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum in 2001. The show focuses on his famous checkerboards in black and white and in brilliant colors, paintings of airplane windows, reflections on art history, and signature horizons, worked out on canvas or with photography. The distinguished art writer and curator Rudi Fuchs praised Vanderheyden’s radical gestures: “He could paint, but what if he photographed that painting: […] was it another painting when he painted upon the photograph of the painting?”

Vanderheyden used to say that he would wait for “creative moments that can be very tiny, so that they pass and return” and that these moments could become a “heavy impulse” to make work in relation to the outside world as it happens. Most of the works in the show at TMH are from a group of small paintings, which use a black background and masterful brushstrokes to amplify the effect of color. The impression of vastness produced by the modestly-scaled painted grids and horizons are a direct outcome of Vanderheyden’s explicit position that the space of art cannot help but be part of the technological space. What would the role of painting be in this situation, he seems to have asked?

Vanderheyden’s reputation as a painter who redefined painting while engaging with multimedia and science was already established in the late 1970s. Since his participation in documenta 7, 1982, in Kassel, Germany, Vanderheyden continued to be invited for solo and curated exhibitions in major museums and galleries. Throughout his career, Vanderheyden played an important role in the Dutch art community, and his artworks and books continue to be highly regarded. Until his death in 2012, Vanderheyden lived and worked in his native city of Den Bosch, Netherlands.

André Stempfel: An Amsterdam Retrospective
The French artist André Stempfel (1930) is an inspired and ingenious practitioner of monochrome geometries. Since the 1970s he has focused almost exclusively on one color—yellow—and has made the yellow monochrome richly pictorial, signifying, and objective all at once. TMH is pleased to collaborate with the artist on his first solo show in Amsterdam, which assembles over forty works. A tribute to his extraordinary 50-year practice, the show presents an opportunity to rethink painting, sculpture, and even architecture from the perspective of minimalism.

In the words of the art writer Hubert Besacier, who has followed the practice of Stempfel for many years: “Lightness and playfulness remain the main characteristics of this work, proving that humor can thrive everywhere, even on the most minimalist of terrains…Not taking painting seriously means devoting yourself fully to it with all the necessary care, rigor and precision.” There is great conceptual depth and energy to these constructions. The reference to traditions is clear—yes, it is painting, sculpture, and drawing in concrete terms. But Stempfel has complicated the effect and possible meanings of geometric art (and of geometry tout court) and leaves it to us to categorize his venture.

At the age of 92, Stempfel is vigorously prolific and no less innovative than in the past. He has been part of the international art scene from the late 1960s, showing in museums and galleries in Paris and abroad, and becoming an honorary member of the international MADI movement in 1989. Stempfel lives and works in Paris, where he shares his studio with his wife, the poet Evelyne Wilhelm.

The exhibitions are organized by Marsha Plotnitsky in collaboration with art historian Fred Wagemans (for Vanderheyden) and art writer Hubert Besacier (for Stempfel).

The Merchant House (TMH) presents contemporary art projects with sales of art as a funding strategy. Each project, curated by TMH’s Founding Artistic Director Marsha Plotnitsky, brings together an extended exhibition, cultural and research events, and a dedicated catalogue/artist’s book. Program funded by art sales.

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May 17, 2023

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