Hidden Sceneries – Floating Memories

Adriaan Rees, Brigitte Spiegeler

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 13th, 2017, 18:00-21:00

Exhibition Dates: April 14th – May 21st, 2017

ArtCN Gallery, in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is pleased to present “Hidden Sceneries – Floating Memories”, a unique exhibition that brings together for the first time the work of Brigitte Spiegeler and Adriaan Rees, as part of the “Dutch Artists in Shanghai No.3”. Initiated by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Shanghai, the “Dutch artists in Shanghai” series, first launched in September 2016, is an on-going program to introduce and promote both established and emerging Dutch visual artists from various disciplines to the Shanghai public.

The selection of artworks by the two artists, although very different in terms of media, is interconnected by a similar exploration of the ever-changing urban landscape at a time when people are questioning economic, political and spiritual values. Through a distinct aesthetic language, photographs and ceramic sculptures, both artists are united into their ability to create a narrative that is implanted in the material itself.

“The fewer visual elements an artist uses the more important they become." In this body of work Brigitte Spiegeler uses only two elements: a black and white photo and a colored pigment (liquid gloss). The pictures are her own and captured with a pinhole camera. The black and white emphasizes the idea that we are confronted with a historical place, vague and almost timeless, as with the pinhole technique, no image really exists in the present moment. Spiegeler’s works are about an imaginary time which only exists in our minds: in her words “a time without a time, vague with some details popping up, the memory is now, right here, but at the same time endlessly far away and intangible”. As it is, it seems as if the pigment was thrown onto the picture plane as an act of aggression that seems to have taken place only seconds ago and consequently happens as if in a contemporary context. So we may have simultaneously a clash of cultures and images. One could propose that the pigment can be ‘read’ vertically, and like calligraphy, fluid while the rest of the picture remains undisturbed. Part of the subject is hidden from view but never to the point of missing the major visual elements, which are not destroyed but transformed like in the process of working with ceramics: the original image is brought up in nuances and layers like in a three-dimensional piece.

The work of Adriaan Rees opens up to a whole new dialogue between time and space.  The artist from Amsterdam spent nearly two decades in Jingdezhen – former capital of Chinese ceramics – and made clay the prime vector of his perception of East and West. Rees could have made his the words those of the famous sculptor Camille Claudel, “the spiritual clay is as fragile as a dream but indestructible like an idea”. He plays with the material and leads the viewer to rethink the intrinsic values and connections between men and earth and life itself.

Rees‘s work « This is my Land - II » brings the viewer back and forth along an 11 meter straight line of separated mountain shaped ceramic sculptures, allowing him to stand or wander in the seemingly connected space. With each sculpture, the contrast strikes between the rough and coarse sides and the smooth front and back of the plane surfaces that show delicately painted sceneries of China. This series of sculptures with their deliberately contrasted appearance could resemble jade that if not skillfully carved and polished could show a similarly unrefined texture. Its precious luster symbolizes beauty and virtue in traditional Chinese culture, a trait Rees wished to focus on while treating ceramics with pure emotion. The sceneries are not fully revealed but rather slightly hidden, thereby drawing the viewer into the space between each aperture, capturing like in a photograph the silent moment.