Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The spirit of the house

The Salon was a way to exhibit art which was very common in the 17th and 18th century. It was a meeting at someone's home where artists, writers, philosophers, musicians and their works and ideas were exchanged. The Salon exhibited paintings floor-to-ceiling on every available inch of space. Salon sociability quickly spread through Europe and by the 18th and 19th centuries, many large cities in Europe had salons copied on the Parisian models. This inspired artist Lisa Couwenbergh who works and lives in the same house where A. Bouten (1893-1965) and H Korevaa (1893-1983) worked to keep this tradition alive. She curated a Salon experience titled the Spirit of the house. 
Previous owners and artists
Armand Bouten and Hanny Korevaa

The combination of works in a Salon is very exciting. It can add layers of tension/friction or it can distract you to see only similarities in energy, style or theme. On entering the room my eyes get stuck on a piece made by Johanna Schweizer. I first saw her work in 2008 at Art Amsterdam and later that year she participated in a show at COBRA museum in Amstelveen. An important theme in her work is the origin of mankind which she explores through fiber art. She combines this theme from cross-genderness and cross-specieness to religious suffering and sexual rituals with folkloric, pagan and a sensual playfulness that makes her work at the same time deadly serious. Fiber art is a style of fine art which uses textiles such as fabric, yarn and natural and synthetic fibers. You recognize her work immediately.
The same house with a new Salon presentation 2011


Johanna Schweizer
Without hesitation I walk over to the two monkeys hanging on the wall, one in bright orange the other in blue. With great pleasure I read many details in this piece, it alternates my thoughts constantly. In her work she makes fun of the laws of nature and provokes different comments depending on if the viewer is male or female. It takes some time before I realize their gender and the conflict they provide with their colors. As nice as it is to zoom in on this work, all walls, corners and ceilings are filled with pieces to view so it is time to move on. 

As much darkness as light 2008
Erik Mattijssen
On the opposite wall the work of Erik Mattijssen draws my attention. It is a cardboard dark skinned human with flowers and vegetables as intestines. It hangs like a jumping jack figure but there is no cord. I become aware that this work, just like Schweizer's monkeys has a certain similarity. I feel caught in the act when I realize it might be my preference. Something that since the beginning of this final year of DOGtime I try to avoid. But surfaces again when I go through this exhibit. The use of human or animal figures, puppets and dolls have been fascinated material for so long that I don't know why I (all of a sudden) want to exterminate it. My strict thoughts have become a hinder to myself, this becomes clear now. It explains the 'passive aggressive' state of thinking that has been dominating my practice. I leave Couwenbergh's apartment with a more curious attitude and a more open point of view to start my engine again. I hope it will return a sparkle of excitement...

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