Now or Never #4
Now or Never #4
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
Images for this exhibition
Every two years, GEM museum of contemporary art turns the spotlight on artists who have recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. This time, director Benno Tempel has selected seven fine arts alumni from the classes of 2016 and 2017: Maria Bigaj, Lydia Buijs, Thijs Jaeger, Luis Maly, Renée van Roekel, Suzie van Staaveren and Gitte Svendsen. Their varied and refreshing work will be showcased at Now or Never #4.
Using organic materials like fruit and vegetables, Polish artist Maria Bigaj (b. 1991) makes poetic sculptures in which she explores the natural process of transformation and decay. She also manages to create some confusion by playing with the properties of the material and giving it a new twist. Thus, a melon or pumpkin appears to be a stable connecting element, while steel bent into geometric shapes seems fragile. But what happens after a time? Bigaj subtly subverts our assumptions, playing with the unexpected results of decay, prompting us to look more closely.
The installations and performances of Lydia Buijs (b. 1991) are part of her search for an ‘instinctive’ essence. She believes that making art is a natural urge, an innate tendency to create. Driven by the idea that people are becoming more and more alienated from their natural instincts, she works mainly with natural materials like wood, clay and linen. Her graduation project, L’Orgue Expressif, is a costume featuring linen bellows and clay whistles, which make sounds as the wearer moves.
Renée van Roekel (b. 1981) produces intricate sculptural constellations from a great variety of materials. Those materials, in fragmented form, relate to both the physical and the graphical/geographical representation space around us. The place, or the journey to a place, is a key factor in Van Roekel’s largely ad-hoc collection process. Anything might end up in one of her sculptures: seeds from a tree, a desk lamp, free wrapping paper from the supermarket, old swimming caps, polystyrene from a laptop box, a historical document. Materials from several sociogeographical locations become part of a continuous process of construction, and eventually arrive at a permanent resting place.
Fascinated by the transient nature of humans and materials, Greek artist Luis Maly (b. 1991) creates installations that seek to establish a dynamic relationship with the viewer. He has produced a new work for Now or Never exploring the transition from life to death, as he takes the viewer into the ‘underground’. In Last Residence, he draws on his memories, emphasising various relationships, like those between humans and nature, history and custom, and family and ritual.
Renée van Roekel
Renée van Roekel (b. 1981) makes installations that have a strong association with psychogeography, the science that studies the effect of the geographical environment on behaviour and emotions. Following in the footsteps of Constant Nieuwenhuys, she builds whimsical models of imaginary urban landscapes. Using ‘worthless’ materials like rubber bands, polystyrene and gauze, she emphasises the fleeting and ephemeral nature of the built environment that surrounds us.
Suzie van Staaveren
With whimsy and precision, Suzie van Staaveren (b. 1991) explores the effect of modular objects on space. Her work consists of large brightly-coloured, powder-coated sheets of steel joined with wooden pegs. Like a toy construction system, Van Staaveren uses her own modular system to make her Shapeshifters. She is one of the winners of the Royal Award for Modern Painting 2017.
Danish artist Gitte Svendsen (b. 1955) intuitively arranges objects and materials she has found to create colourful spatial compositions. She finds her inspiration on the street, in neon advertising signs, billboards, shiny cars, packaging, building sites. Using an ingenious interplay of flat and three-dimensional elements, she creates familiar yet at the same time enigmatic environments that defy any clear definition. Entering an installation by Svendsen is like entering a three-dimensional painting.