Catharina van Eetvelde. Ilk

26 Nov 2016 – 12 Mar 2017

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Since 2004, Catharina van Eetvelde has been developing an exceptional and pathbreaking stance on drawing.


For the artist—who now resides in Paris—drawing has always constituted the foundation of her work, but she does not understand drawing as an activity bound exclusively by the medium of paper. Rather, drawing is the way in which she relates to the world, and in particular to the natural sciences. Using an approach that is downright anthropological, the artist analyses and investigates how the natural sciences shape our lives and our conceptions. Against the seemingly unimpeachable authority of science, van Eetvelde sets her art—a chaotic system that cannot be predicted or steered. After she began to engage with the catastrophe at Fukushima as part of an interdisciplinary project in 2011, the concept of material became of central importance. Since that time, she has frequently developed her drawings and collages into entire assemblages out of the most varied material. What lies behind this is the question of the connection between all things and all living beings. She designates this similarity with the Old English term ilk, which provided the title for this exhibition.

Catharina van Eetvelde draws in full awareness of the fragility of her works. She does not produce works for eternity, even when she handles the material with extreme care. Rather, her drawings on paper and collages are very delicate works. The data comprising her vector-based drawings and animations are equally limited in lifespan, since their readability depends on computer software. The artist creates lines in all their imaginable forms: as traces that she leaves on the paper; as words embroidered with thread on paper or felt; as linear arrangements of material in space; or as ghostly "digital" lines that briefly appear on a screen as animation and disappear again. All these drawings make visible a process of experimentation, which goes hand in hand with the mobility of the artist's standpoint.

Catharina van Eetvelde has been exhibiting her drawings internationally since 2004. Her works may be found in collections such as the Kupferstichkabinett (Department of Prints and Drawings) of the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels, in the Cabinet d’arts graphiques des Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne in Paris, or in the Frac of Normandie Rouen, Picardie, and Lorraine, as well as in numerous private collections. In 2010 she was awarded the prestigious Prix de dessin of the Fondation d’art contemporain Daniel et Florence Guerlain in Paris.
The Kupferstichkabinett of the Kunstmuseum Basel is very pleased to provide the venue for the artist's first extensive institutional exhibition. The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the Museum Folkwang in Essen, where it will be on view from September 29, 2017 to January 14, 2018.

The jointly-produced, richly illustrated catalog encompasses 224 pages and is published by Kehrer Verlag. An edition produced by the artist and edited by the Kunstmuseum Basel will be available at the bookshop for CHF 150.

The exhibition is made possible with support from the Foundation for the Kunstmuseum Basel.

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Catharina van Eetvelde


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