Robert Miller is pleased to announce Willem Oorebeek’s debut with the gallery and first U.S. solo show, american proof AP. Comprising large-scale wall-mounted installations and video works, the exhibition will include the “american proof” or American edition of some of the artist’s most important past works. Reflecting on the representational power of images and information disseminated by mass media, for over 25 years Oorebeek has selected printed matter to manipulate and transpose into other media, very often utilizing techniques from the graphic arts, to explore themes of repetition, reproduction, seriality and order.
Roy Lichtenstein scrutinized and transformed printed images. Through reproduction his body of work has itself entered what Oorebeek conceives of as the endless cycle of destruction and re-circulation of printed matter. In the monumental 77-panel installation BLACKOUT KATALOG, 2011, pages taken from a recent Lichtenstein catalogue have been overprinted with a layer of lithographic black ink in an operation Oorebeek calls a BLACKOUT. In the resulting work the images, now sealed under ink, are rendered visible only when light on the black surface is seen from a particular angle. As art historian Camiel van Winkel observes, the BLACKOUTS are not iconoclasm but are akin to Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning Drawing of 1953. “Although Rauschenberg’s singular work is essentially a ‘white-out’ rather than a Blackout, it evolved out of a similar affection for its erased object.” By making the image hard to see, he is simultaneously referring to remembering and forgetting, to suppressing or erasing the image and leaving it only just visible as a mere shadow whereby it becomes all the more forceful and intense. Additionally the presentation of the book pages in a rigidly stretched spatial installation almost becomes a comic strip in its own right. The exhibition also includes the 8-panel BLACKOUT Local Heroes, comprising overprinted portraits of communist leaders like Deng Xiaopeng, Stalin and Mao as well as single BLACKOUTS utilizing fashion campaigns and other printed matter.
The works in american proof AP expose certain patterns in the design and the use of images. At the same time, the content of the works is inspired by the tradition of representation, from landscape painting to advertisement. In this double pursuit, Oorebeek constantly seeks to redefine and revitalize the image. There is an examination of how text enhances or enfeebles images, or gives them a new layer of meaning. In MORE ELLE ELLE, the superimposition of several covers of ELLE magazine show which rules of publicity are imposed with the aim of recognizability for what is called a unique cover. In The Last Emperor of the Wall Street Journal, 2008, a stippled portrait of Alan Greenspan from the paper has been blown up and transferred to a traditional Gobelin tapestry. From the newspaper where the image already appeared in a reproduced, pixilated state, its printing grid clearly visible, to the pixelated format of a tapestry, much like in his BLACKOUTS the Greenspan image here has been “rescued” from oblivion by the artist and transposed into a provocative format.
This exhibition has been realized by the generous financial support of the Mondrian Foundation, Amsterdam.
Willem Oorebeek was born in Rotterdam in 1953 and lives and works in Brussels. His conceptual works, installations, and book projects have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including unExhibit, Generali Foundation, Vienna (2011), MONOLITH, Once or Many. Culturgest, Lisbon (2008); bigger, higher, leader!. S.M.A.K., Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2006); (with Joëlle Tuerlinckx) BILD, oder MIT DEM FUSS IN DER REALITÄT; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2004); MONOLITH, lettered rock. Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (1994). Oorebeek and Aernout Mik co-designed the Dutch pavilion for the 47th Venice Biennial (1997). He has also published numerous artist’s books, including Willem Oorebeek. MetZonderKOP, Den Bosch 2005, and Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Willem Oorebeek. BILD, oder MIT DEM FUSS IN DER REALITÄT, Karlsruhe 2004. Willem Oorebeek was a lecturer at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, at "de Ateliers" in Amsterdam and the Hochschule der Künste in Hamburg. He currently coordinates the Residency Program at the Wiels, Contemporary Art Center, Brussels.