From 9 March to 16 June, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam will present the exhibition entitled De Volkskrant Beeldende Kunst Prijs 2013 (De Volkskrant Art Award 2013). The nominees for this Award are: Zoro Feigl, Esther de Graaf, Saskia Noor van Imhoff, Chaim van Luit, Femmy Otten. Five talented artists, all younger than 35 years, have been chosen by art scouts. Their work reflects the adventure and diversity of present-day art.
In addition to paintings and mural reliefs, there are delicate constructions of wire and cardboard as well as multimedia installations and electrically powered sculptures. This is the seventh edition of the Award, which is organized as a joint effort involving De Volkskrant (Dutch national daily newspaper), the Mondriaan Fund and NTR Kunststof TV (art programme). The jury chairman, Jan Jaap van der Wal, will announce the winner in a special broadcast of NTR Kunststof TV on Sunday 21 April. The prize of 10,000 euros has been donated by the Mondriaan Fund.
Zoro Feigl (Amsterdam, 1983)
Nominated by Jeroen Bosch: artist and founder of Trendbeheer.com, a news site for current art in the Randstad (urban agglomeration in the west of the Netherlands).
‘Zoro Feigl’s figures move: they turn, make noises, rustle, squeak and scrape. Feigl’s works is playful and light-hearted, but also exceptionally physical at the same time. They seize your attention directly and inexorably. They are conspicuous, sensational works, all of them eye-catchers, almost sensation art.’ This is how Jeroen Bosch describes his choice for this artist, and he even takes it a step further: ‘Images are not sufficient, you have to see it, feel it, experience it. The commitment, the energy and the originality radiate from the work.’
In the Stedelijk Museum, Feigl displays three recent sculptures: mechanical figures that generate sound and movement. Although they produce elegant movement, there is also a sinister undertone. In the earliest figure of the three, Chain dating from 2008, an anchor chain hangs from a motorbike wheel attached to the ceiling. As soon as the wheel is powered, the steel chain oscillates loosely in space, in a long, changing loop shape: a soft movement of hard materials. This contrast suggests that the ambience could easily alter: from the potency of elegant temptation to a demonstration of power. Perhaps that will actually occur. The chain, which writhes and rattles, has the venom of a snake.
Esther de Graaf (Groningen, 1984)
Nominated by Ad de Jong, artist and founder of the W139 artists’ initiative in Amsterdam
Esther de Graaf builds delicate constructions of simple materials that are translucent, opaque or sometimes also reflect light. She uses cardboard, plastic, wood, aluminium foil, wire and tape. In an occasional case her sculptures call to mind telescopes or solar panels. In general she navigates between an organic and an architectural skeleton, extremely fragile and light. Her works demonstrate their own structure, which has been composed of transparent modules. In principle, they could expand indefinitely: a germ of uncontrolled proliferation lurks within these constructions.
‘They are the counter-image of our over-organized, control-oriented society: loose, naïve, fabricated from chaos and only just holding together, almost a transition to the following state of sculptural being. Or of no longer even being a sculpture, in fact’, writes scout Ad de Jong about this work. He has nominated Esther de Graaf because she ‘creates fragile figures that make a strong and especially visual impression with simple materials, in a new and pure manner’.
De Graaf seldom installs ready-made figures in an exhibition. She builds up her sculptures in the space where she displays them, adapts them to this space, and relates them to the surrounding architecture.
Saskia Noor van Imhoff (Mission, Canada, 1982)
Nominated by Marlene Dumas: artist
A landscape of artworks. A décor of artworks. Or: a still life of artworks. Saskia Noor van Imhoff arranges a large diversity of materials in space. Photographic works or videos may accompany paintings, or even living plants and plant-like figures of bronze. Walls, pedestals and columns form components of an installation. They are placed in a sculptural way, occasionally in the shape of a funnel, ushering the general public into the décor but also representing the filtration of information.
‘I find her visually intelligent and surprising, due to her up-to-date themes: the relationship of art to exhibiting, for example, or the relationship of art to collecting.’ This is how Marlene Dumas motivates her choice. According to Dumas, Van Imhoff takes the museum depot as a theme for the revision our culture: she studies the significance of tangible objects in our digital era. ‘Perhaps she is a kind of hewer of figures rather than a sculptress’, Dumas suggests.
For her installation in Schiedam, Van Imhoff has submitted and revised previous work, and has also produced some brand-new components besides visiting the museum depot. In addition to a still life by Gerrit van Vucht from the seventeenth century, she has chosen objects that jointly form a spatial reflection of that still life. Her installation, thus composed, forms an analytical and, at the same time, sensitive aid to memory.
Chaim van Luit (Heerlen, 1985)
Nominated by Stijn Huijts, director of the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht
‘My work may appear formal’, says Chaim van Luit, ‘but it arises spontaneously, in an interaction with my surroundings. I often go out into the woods in and around Limburg. You simply cannot avoid the traces of history there, especially those from the war. Just across the border with Germany you encounter bunkers from the Second World War that are camouflaged with a kind of oxide green that I, as a painter, find very interesting.’
It should be a colour that prefers to go incognito: this bunker green. But Van Luit draws this pigment to the forefront. In the video entitled Removing and Storing Pigments, Hürtgenwald (2012) we see his hand carefully scraping paint from the bunker wall, like a restorer. The sound is raw: metal grating against concrete, as a metaphor for a harrowing history. The video dovetails with the mural entitled Monochrome (2012-13): a metres-tall green rectangle of pigment and binding agent. Geometrical abstraction? Of course, but here the camouflage colour is also brought into the light of day. In addition to being a restorer, Van Luit is also a kidnapper of the past.
Femmy Otten (Amsterdam, 1981)
Nominated by Toos Arends, director of the CBK Drenthe
Femmy Otten switches effortlessly between the second and the third dimension. Drawing, painting and sculpting blend together with ease. She creates mural reliefs, portraits of women and men that exist at the point of appearing and disappearing. It is as if they, with their refined faces, come from another age, sometime long ago. None the less, they fit seamlessly into the present day, in all the reproductions of bygone times. Sometimes a single portrait recurs in relief, or as a painted version of a framed photo.
According to Toos Arends, Otten can bridge the ages: she evokes Greek and Etruscan Antiquity, as well as the wooden sculptures of Stephan Balkenhol, frescos from the Renaissance, and occasionally also abstract art. Past and present form a total picture that refuses to let the spectator go, claims Arends. And she praises the mystery of these portraits in which personal memories accompany those from mythology.
Otten creates her own world of fables in which she allows her knowledge of art history and her intuition free rein. Just as in Classical Antiquity and in our dreams, animal and humans fuse together. Her work is replete with veiled eroticism and magic forces are also unleashed. Around the portraits are sharp arrows and abstract signs that function as amulets. Otten celebrates a delicate beauty in her work. Occasionally this beauty acquires wings, while elsewhere it may become damaged and its countenance disfigured. To maintain equilibrium, the occult symbols loom up: they exorcize oblivion and the evil eye.
The Stedelijk Museum Schiedam has organized a programme of activities to accompany the exhibition.
On Sunday 7 April, in the Museum Weekend, you can participate in guided tours given by Sacha Bronwasser, jury member and art critic of the Volkskrant, and Wilma Sütö, curator of the exhibition.
In the last weekend, too, during the Volkskrant day on Sunday 16 April, there is a whole guided tour programme. In addition, Sacha Bronwasser will interview the participating artists. To round off the day, the public’s favourite will be announced. As a visitor, you are most welcome to cast your vote on the form available for this purpose.