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Going Dutch, continued:

Emerging art from the Netherlands

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Marijn Van Kreij

Marijn Van Kreij : new art from Holland

A painstaking reproduction of a doodled page pairs unfettered mark-making with careful mimesis (left). There's a vague resemblance here to the symmetries of a Rorschach test, but whereas the famous ink blob is used to plumb the unconscious, van Kreij's mirroring sets up a direct confrontation between apparent spontaneity and exacting reproduction.

Since one of these images is a labour-intensive copy of the other, does this, in a sense, make it less valid, even a type of fake?

The question of authenticity is one that van Kreij turns to again and again through various acts of doubling, appropriation or repetition.

Marijn Van Kreij

An assemblage consisting of a mirror and fruit reflects the image of an orange back at the viewer. The mirror-image in itself possesses a philosophically questionable veracity, but from certain angles it coincides exactly with the form of a second orange - a piece of fake fruit positioned on the other side of the mirror (left).

This small work becomes a kind of Venn diagram of interlinked realities - fruit | reflection | fake fruit - and a truly complex conundrum.

The issue of creative originality becomes more pointed still through van Kreij's frequent use of text. While apparently self-penned, most of his annotations and aphorisms are extracted from songs.

The stockpile of ready-made commentary pop lyrics provide can be seen in various lights: as the valid 'voice' of successive youthful generations, or (to quote from just such a lyric!) "a second-hand emotion" which inevitably filters and dilutes self-expression.

Is dependence on the observation of others a sign of torpor, or simply the extension of a long and fruitful tradition of quotation in the arts?

Ultimately, van Kreij leaves us deliberately uncertain as to his stance, although his curious title for a recent show slyly throws the cat among the pigeons.

"A Thought the Size of a Pencil, a Brain the Size of an Eraser" is drawn from a scientific essay on brain transplants. If such a procedure were possible, whose thoughts would we be thinking? And could a creative impulse be deemed our own?

contemporary Dutch art: Marijn Van Kreij
images © Marijn Van Kreij
 

Falke Pisano

Falke Pisano, contemporary art from Holland

Falke Pisano's rising international profile centres around a conceptual, performative approach to the creation of sculptural works.

Her complex forms of art production are not without challenges, and those who prefer their art relatively accessible are likely to baulk at notions such as "abstract concrete objects" (especially since Pisano's own critiques are notoriously obscure).

Falke Pisano
images © Falke Pisano

Nevertheless, she is clearly representative of a growing concern with art that engages in - and provokes - real depths of enquiry, whether philosophical in nature, or ignited by intricate associative imbrication. It's a tendency shared by several of the artists featured here, as well as many emerging French practitioners, including exhilarating newcomer Benoît Maire, with whom Pisano has frequently collaborated.

 

Hadassah Emmerich

Hadassah Emmerich, contemporary art from Holland

Working in a variety of mediums including collage, painting and installation, much of Emmerich's work is underpinned by reference to her Indonesian roots and multi-ethnic background.

Adapting many of her motifs directly from Indonesian culture, their presence underlines one of the artist's principal concerns: exoticism, or the representation of the Orient via Occidental culture, as well as the often subtle differences between ornamentation and abstraction.

Represented in several prestigious Dutch collections, Emmerich is starting to attract international attention, particularly in the US and Germany, where she is currently based.

Hadassah Emmerich
images © Hadassah Emmerich
 

Joep van Liefland

Joep van Liefland

Since 2002 Joep van Liefland's Video Palast rental service has provided a consistent, though ephemeral, addition to his adopted home town, Berlin.

Van Liefland is fascinated by video in all its lowliest manifestations - obscure B movies and kitsch exploitation genres, promotional tapes, travelogues, home movies and infomercials. Their low budget production values are reflected in the shabby, ramshackle nature of the Video Palast itself, which has made temporary appearances in locations ranging from disused buildings to art galleries and car parks.

Joep van Liefland
images © Joep van Liefland

The Palast is not only an artwork in its own right; it doubles as a centre for quasi-commercial production. This takes the form of makeshift advertising that excitedly promotes the rental store's unalloyed pleasures, as well as a distribution centre for van Liefland's own video output.

Generally featuring the artist himself, titles such as Doggiedoggie, Splatter Orgasm, Men in Pain (left) and Donald Judd Faces of Death I make clear the kind of territories VP productions inhabit - spoof re-inventions of exactly the kind of archive material the Palast offers on its shelves.

Yet despite the obvious irony in van Liefland's project, there's a serious dimension to his parody. Besides rescuing vintage footage from obscurity, his work charts the effects of what he terms 'media-entropy': the increasingly rapid decline of formerly cutting-edge mass-media technologies.

It's a concern shared by artists such as Gregor Hildebrand and Mathieu Mercier, but van Liefland's approach to framing nostalgia begins with materials which were probably never well-loved, but to which he brings a new and eccentric appeal.

 

Bas Louter

Bas Louter: new Dutch artists

Bas Louter creates black and white drawings in charcoal and ink which are then used to build sprawling installations that "look like large-scale absurd theatres about to explode or crumble down".

His recent series of monumental portraits have attracted particular interest: images gleaned from an eclectic array of sources are rendered anew as if partially emptied of meaning by the effects of time and memory.

These works, like his earlier installations, are often modified via Louter's "constant shift from two to three dimensional". Frequent inclusion within a sprawling network of additional drawings gives them a performative and associative role beyond their function as portraiture.

Bas Louter, contemporary art from Holland
 

Navid Nuur

Navid Nuur, new art from Holland
images © Navid Nuur

(b.1976) Iranian-born Dutch national Navid Nuur's characteristic use of mundane materials belies the complexity of the conditions he teases from their use. Not that he necessarily aims for intricacy, but the impulses fuelling his practice are already unusual; a highly individual perception of the world and a questioning stance that lies somewhere between scientific enquiry and poetry.

It's unsurprising, therefore, that artworks arising from such observations as "The floor mirrors our private pressure" or "Black is actually an inside-out rainbow" possess a certain unorthodoxy simply in terms of their invitation to partake in Nuur's subjective, internal world.

His solution to the mapping of 'private pressure', for example, is to cover a floor with underlay tiles that retain the slight contour of footsteps (they additionally muffle a room's acoustics and change colour in sunlight, a source of further fascination for Nuur).

The suggestion that black is, indeed, an 'inside-out rainbow' is demonstrated by applying water to words drawn in black felt-tip pen, allowing the component tints to separate into arcs (above left).

In both these examples, Nuur's consistent theme of unexpected revelation comes to the fore, a topic he approaches not merely in terms of a viewer's insight (and his own), but also through exploitation of his materials' properties, particularly their propensities for transformation or movement.

Navid Nuur, new art from Holland

Works that further exemplify these interests include Thresholded, a wall of florists' foam blocks that retain the impression of the artist's fingers left by the process of stacking ("... emotional marks on the rational block", left) and Vein of Venus (2008), which employs an overhead projector to frame the slow, real-time swirl of melting ice cream (below left).

If materials can perform subtle acts of transformation, words, too, have the power to align themselves into unexpected chords of nuance, to shift and reveal.

Unsurprisingly, the mysterious properties of language are also a salient feature of Nuur's work, exemplified through his use of word-play, visual puns and self-penned aphorism.

The hand-drawn words Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence are rinsed of colour as a test of their veracity; the phrase "Even a single spark of thought can turn into a lifetime memory" is stamped into a wall, its tiny lettering almost unnoticeable.

The 2008 work I am just an idea between the tape and the wall, consists of exactly the components its title suggests: a strip of yellow sticking tape, its titular phrase penned on the reverse and hidden from view - though ever-present - when affixed to a wall.

Navid Nuur, new art from Holland
images © Navid Nuur

It's precisely this concern with liminal, metaphysical states that causes Nuur to speak of his works not as sculptures or installations, but 'interimodules' - structures that should not be seen as ends in themselves, but rather, facilitators of ephemeral experience.

As the phrase "Even a single spark of thought can turn into a lifetime memory" powerfully suggests, permanence in its usual sense is not Nuur's aim. Instead, he's interested in engineering exposure to fleeting ideas, then allowing these impressions to perhaps form gradual lives of their own. As he says, "If a work can only live for three seconds, OK. Those are the best seconds — just as good as 300 years".

 

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