In a contemporary context, art is creating an idiosyncratic communicatory language by taking advantage of democratic mediums. John Kelsey states that “seeing how painting has colonized social media lately, it’s hard not to feel that there’s a sort of leaking away of the medium at the moment it’s taking on a weird and happy new life” - a reflection which is shared by the artists Koen Delaere and Bas van den Hurk. In this “inter-net-worked society”, we experience an endless series of temporal axes crossing through the invisible axes of global space giving the opportunity for “paintings to travel” with a speed that is sometimes neither physically nor logically possible to grasp, perceive or even relate to from a human scale perspective.
In ”Scenarios of Desire” these two Dutch artists challenge the old, strong and provocative statement of painting as dead and static. Questioning the (after)life of painting as a medium reflecting the current state-of-being, extends to our intimate relationship with social media in an art and everyday context. Therefore, the artists find the death of painting redundant and chooses thus to redirect our attention to the transitivity and mobility of images in order to focus on the distinctive matter and sensation hybrid, of which their paintings are made.
If painting is dead, it is the beholder´s chance to give life to the work and thus finish it on a personal level of interpretation. Incorporating “desire” into the title of the exhibition, the artists encourage subjective associations in the minds of visitors when encountering the pieces on view in the CCA Kunsthalle. To describe painting as static is indisputable opposed by Delaere and van den Hurk, since the materials, context as well as all additional informational cues, are in constant transition and movement, just as ‘one can never step in the same river twice’.
Throughout August 2017 the artists have lived with their families in the CCA studios combining their identities as artists, lovers and friends in one and the same space. This ‘aura’ is present in the artworks, as a physical transformation of the circumstances and the influence of different elements from their nearest surroundings continues to exist as traces of lived life on the canvas. What seems like a classical object trouvé-gesture has a deeper meaning to Delaere and van den Hurk. Their processes seek to reveal the flow of experience in the artwork, following its ‘transitivity’ and ‘intelligent touch’. The former described by David Joselit as “the way an action is transferred to an object” and the latter exemplified with Derrida’s notion of the eye//the gaze, that are at once visible and seeing, thus touchable with the eyes-the gaze of the Other. In this sense of touching, the artists are curious to investigate how painting can touch the world and how the world can touch painting in exchange.
”Koen Delaere’s approach to painting comes within reach of the performative moment of music. As in musical productions, it is in his works that one perceives a live performance – a spontaneity that is reflected throughout a concert. There is a randomness, an improvisation and a controlled chaos. We find traces of these elements in his paintings, as well as the freshness of a live performance. His works live on an extension of the present” (Lorenzo Benedetti: Chromatic Explosions)
Employing the inherent forces of the art work as subjective matter Bas van den Hurk is working on a philosophical level in accordance to Hegel, who claimed painting to be the one of all the arts, best suited to manifest itself as the soul within. In “Scenarios of Desire” the beholder is invited to contemplate on the spirit of a broad variety of art works spanning from watermelon in degradation, colors applied with the fingertips of the artist on silk canvas carrying a pearl necklace to leftover paper from the ice cream eaten by his daughters.
This exhibition ultimately postulates the vivid state of painting and motivates the viewer to reflect on the identity of each installation by engaging in the exchange of touching and being touched by its presence, in order to avoid the already bespoken leaking away of the medium.
As a contraposition to the high speed of online travelling images, “Scenarios of Desire” stands as an exhibition of art works created from materials that carry energy and are living, evolving and moving at different speeds – just as impossible to perceive by the naked eye, but nevertheless existing and insisting on touching the world and being touched by it.