There is an unsettling aesthetic at play within Jaap de Vries’ paintings. It could be the soft watercolour treatment juxtaposed with the hard and cold surfaces of the aluminum that create the figures, or the perverse and somewhat macabre subject matter of dead fish, sexual acts, and bound/ silenced women with sellotape that is presented. Conceptually the exhibition is presented as a look into the dark side of human condition where the art of creating such images exposes the viewer to their bad conscience and curiosity for thoughts that are repressed or not breached by the constraints that we and society put on ourselves.
The work can be broken down conceptually through the method of creating paintings in a somewhat ephemeral and uncontrollable medium (watercolour on aluminum panel). The outcome is unpredictable. Layer this act of recording with the subject matter that can be constrained to fleeting and perverse thoughts and we have a combination which sums up De Vries’ painting practice.
I think it would be false to attribute de Vries’ work to shock factor alone. The investigation into his medium demands viewers to step back and consider what is being presented and why the work has been presented in such a fashion. Almost like how the watercolour is being repelled by the metal and whatever outcome happens to stick; de Vries attempts to proposition viewers into considering what parts of our bad conscience has stayed within us through an investigation that is undoubtedly a reflection of the artist’s bad conscience.
-- David Yu
All images courtesy the artist and 20 Hoxton Square Projects
Images from Cut, 20 Hoxton Square Projects