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Art critic pattern blindness: On ignoring trends in Amsterdam this September
by Andrea Alessi


One of my colleagues crafted his city’s fall preview around the challenge of choosing exhibitions to visit when there’s so much to see. It’s a difficult task we all face, and quite frankly, I might have taken this approach myself. Instead, when charged with writing about September offerings I ended up looking for patterns; like a gallery staging a summer group show, I wondered what ad hoc themes I might attach to Amsterdam art this month. Of course, it’s a task more hopeless than trying to see too much art, though maybe with the right algorithm and a massive computer to run the computations I could find statistically significant factors no one—neither gallerist nor artist—knew they’d yielded. (And maybe get headhunted by ArtRank in the process).

Alas, I have no such program. And really, as ever, there’s something for everyone: painting and new media, hot new solos and establishment retrospectives, hip art fairs, and artworks political, conceptual, and formal. With such diversity in mind, here are some mini-trends and outliers I’m looking forward to in Amsterdam* this month:

Marlene Dumas, Nuclear Family, 2013, Oil on canvas, 200 x 180 cm; © Marlene Dumas / Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel; Photo: Peter Cox

 

The biggest name recognition this fall comes, unsurprisingly, from the Stedelijk Museum which will launch Marlene Dumas’ first retrospective in the Netherlands in twenty years: The Image as Burden. The exhibition will include nearly two hundred of the Cape Town native’s works ranging from the iconic to the lesser-known, including drawings straight from her Amsterdam studio. For one of the Netherlands’ most beloved painters, the attention seems long overdue (ArtSlant will have the complete report next week).

The idea of “image as burden” hints at the friction between an image’s ostensive subject and the painterly gesture. It also leads nicely into my nearest success at identifying a trend in the handful of exhibitions exploring image making in the twenty-first century, including artists who “break down the fourth wall” to reveal the digital, or perhaps photographer-ly gesture. This season FOAM will present a solo show of Paul Huf Award winner Daniel Gordon’s lush portraits and still lifes, which are constructed IRL from images found online. A second FOAM exhibition, Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography, will highlight nine photographers who rethink their medium. Some see photographs and digital source materials as renewable objects; others shatter their images’ illusions, revealing the tools, craft, and apparatuses that made them. Artists include Jessica Eaton, Lucas Blalock, Sara VanDerBeek, and Owen Kydd and if it’s anything like the eponymous issue of FOAM Magazine preceding it, it will be a challenging and visually delightful presentation.

Rafaël Rozendaal, Into Time 14 05 04, 2014, Lenticular painting (unique piece), 120 x 90 cm; Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij; Courtesy of the artist and Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam

 

Along similar lines, Upstream Gallery will present Shifting Optics, featuring seven artists for whom digital techniques and imagery are not limited to new media and the traditionally digital domain. Works made especially for this exhibition will incorporate the digital across a variety of media, including painting, video, textile, and an iPhone app. Artists include Rafaël Rozendaal, Shannon Finley, Travess Smalley, and Tabok Robak.

Shifting again, you’ll catch two new film presentations with political perspectives this month. Annet Gelink will present Yael Bartana’s latest project, True Finn, which debuted this year in Helsinki at the IHME Contemporary Art Festival. Themes like immigration, identity, and nation building recall her And Europe Will Be Stunned… trilogy (2007-2011), featured previously at the gallery, and feel particularly relevant within the current geopolitical climate. Over at Ron Mandos Isaac Julien’s latest solo also tackles today’s pressing issues; the British filmmaker’s most recent film, PLAYTIME, will explore links between the art world and the global financial crisis, featuring actors like Maggie Cheung and James Franco with auctioneer Simon de Pury playing himself.

Charles Avery, Untitled (What’s so great about Happiness?), 2014, Pencil, ink, acrylic and gouache on paper, 97 x 70 cm | 38.2 x 27.6 inches; Courtesy of the artist and GRIMM Gallery, Amsterdam

 

If you enjoyed Paul Noble at Museum Boijmans this summer (and, how could you not?) you might like Charles Avery’s second solo show at GRIMM Gallery. Both artists have been doing their own obsessive thing for years—namely, building fantasy worlds—and while each has top-notch gallery representation, their practices don’t really correspond with contemporary narratives. Noble’s drawings are more impressive, but Avery’s world is more convincing. This exhibition of all new work will introduce more characters to Avery’s invented island through drawings, furniture, and interior design objects.

Jonas Lund, Studio Practice, 2014, Example of the advisory board's appraisal system with a range slider between destroy/sign; Courtesy of the artist

 

For a rather suiting end, check out Swedish artist Jonas Lund’s Studio Practice at Boetzelaer|Nispen. You can start watching the show today in real time, though you’ll have to wait ‘til it’s over to find out what you can buy. Painting-making is outsourced to four artists who use parameters detailed in a 300-page book made by Lund. An advisory board comprising artists, art advisors, gallerists, and collectors will review each painting online to determine whether it should be destroyed or signed and sold by Lund. I look forward to seeing if the resulting body of work reveals any trends and patterns.

 

* I’m limiting my picks to Amsterdam, but there’s so much happening in The Hague, Rotterdam, and even further afield, you’ll need to check back for our coverage throughout the season.

 

Andrea Alessi

 

(Image on top: Daniel Gordon, Still Life with Fish and Forsythia, 2013, C-Print, 50 x 60 inches; © Daniel Gordon / Courtesy of the artist and Wallspace, New York)



Posted by Andrea Alessi on 9/4 | tags: trends Amsterdam fall previews 2014 fall previews painting photography

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