The Dutch landscape is famous for being, well, Dutch. But three Dutch artists show they can defy usual convention. Words: John Beagles
What and who comes to mind when you think of Dutch landscape art? Jacob van Ruisdael‘s ﬂat, earthy landscapes. or perhaps Hobbema’s classic perspective study of an avenue of trees, or Rembrandt’s pen and ink sketches of farmhouses isolated on the ﬂatlands.
In the 17th century. the Dutch hit a rich seam which they mined with enthusiasm. Yet, fast forward through the centuries, with a nod to Van Gogh and Mondrian. and you’d be forgiven for thinking the Dutch had turned their attention from their countryside’s geometry to more entertaining. cosmopolitan pastimes.
Light In The Head (Vertigo) , is the title of the second leg of the exchange between Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery and Artis, an artist-led Netherlands space. Earlier this year, twelve Scotland-based artists including Ross Sinclair, Alan Currall and Kate Gray, showed work under the title Speel in Hertogenbosch.
The return show, Light In The Head (Vertigo), initially seems to conﬁrm the impression that Dutch artists have turned away from rural life to the city. Particularly as ‘light’ could read as a reference to the Amsterdam-based anarchists of the 603, the Provos. one of whom famously drilled a hole into his cranium, believing the extra space would allow his brain to physically and spiritually expand. Here. although all three artists proclaim an interest in the
Van der Brink has literally turned everything on its head by fixing a camera to that most Dutch of icons - the sail of a
Dutch still-life: Jasper van der Brink's Windmill
Dutch landscape’s particularities, there is also a hint of subversive, anarcho-liberalism in their work.
With Jasper van der Brink’s work, you must forget about order, balance and the famously calming serenity of level plains. The artist has literally turned everything on its head, by fixing a camera to that most Dutch of icons - a windmill’s sail. The resulting disorientating experience of the viewer is not unlike that felt by thousands of Bank holiday Brits in Amsterdam. High on the relaxed European vibe, the tendency is to over-indulge in Holland’s other famous tourist attraction — the local liquor — and stumble into one of the canals.
Arthur Kempenaar turns his attention to flies. Kempenaar paints flies. He has painted the same fly over and over again for several years now. He is clearly committed to his fly. This kind of obsessive dedication to recording reality directly recalls the practices of 17th century Dutch still life painters. It also makes you think he should spend more time in the fresh air with van der Brink.
The third artist, Zeger Reijers has worked with organic materials such as mushrooms and grass, to make time-based installations. For the Collective show, Reijers has moved to a different landscape, that of the bedroom, making work from stained mattress covers.
There is, however, a twist in the tale of this trio’s take on the Dutch landscape. The artists, true to their 605 forebears, are being a touch subversive. All that will be on show at Collective is a video of the artists installing their work into the space; they later removed the actual artworks. A case of the disappearing landscape.
Light In The Head (Vertigo) is at Collective Gallery, Edinburgh until Sat 22 Nov.
Eavesdropping on the art world.
BOOKMAKERS WILUAM HILL have announced odds of nine to four for Glasgow artist Christine Borland, one of four women shortlisted, to win year's Turner Prize. Neck and neck with Cornelia Parker, Gillian Wearing currently leads with odds of two to one. The prize is still being stalked by controversy. Accusations of political correctness — or perhaps correction, after last year's all male- Iine up - have been further fuelled by rumours that Julian Opie refused to be put on the shortlist. The Turner Prize is announced live on Channel 4 on 2 December.
MORE IMPORTANTLY THAN 'form’ or 'odds' is the fact that BorIand's success is further evidence of Scotland's burgeoning status in the international art world. In London, Glasgow-based artists Stephanie Smith and Edward Stewart have their first solo show in the West End's Anthony d'Offay Gallery. Further east in Farringdon, Victoria Morton is to have a solo show at the 33 Great Sutton Street, a gallery run by Andrew Mummery, who is keenly keeping his eye on the Scottish scene, having previously shown work by Louise Hopkins and Carol Rhodes. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Ross Sinclair has a show at Toronto's Mercer Union Gallery.
THE SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL (SAC) has announced its Visual Arts Awards. Out of a submission of 55 requests, twelve artists have been awarded grants amounting to £60,000, an increase of 33% from last year. They include Richard Wright, Ross Sinclair, John Shankie and David Shrigley, who have been awarded £8000 each, and Nathan Coley and Claire Barclay, who have received £5000 each. The SAC has also just launched its annual report for 1996-97; a crucial bit of trumpet blowing, in the light of recent bad press on funding decisions.
ARCHITECT RICHARD MURPHY, the man behind Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, who is currently working on the new Dundee Contemporary Arts centre, has been one of six practices shortlisted for this year’s Stirling Prize for Architecture. Murphy is shortlisted for Maggie's Centre, a cancer care centre at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital. The award is announced on 20 November.
The Dead Teach The Living by Turner Prize shortlisted artist Christine Bodand
7 Nov—20 Nov 1997 THE LIST"