In Gallery Sofie Van de Velde, the exhibition "TohuBohu" is currently on view in their location on the Vlaamse Kaai in Antwerp. Until 28 February, the gallery has programmed their first solo exhibition by Amber Andrews. The name of the exhibit refers to the Hebrew Bible and describes, according to Andrews,"the desolate state of the earth, the day before God turned on the light and began creation.”
Andrews' layered and exuberant still lifes actively refer to art history, like an intellectual puzzle. Andrews: "I don’t think you can ignore art history. As a contemporary artist it’s impossible to shield yourself from your contemporaries, let alone your predecessors. Everything starts with a love for painting, its history and key players, but simultaneously, it’s also a technical education to study their works. You try to find out what difficulties they encountered and you analyse their solutions.” Andrews works in a style that contains both figurative and abstract elements, which means that you, as a viewer, simultaneously experience recognition and alienation — an interesting sensation. Andrews: “To me, painting is a language that cannot be explained in words. The abstraction of my works is an escape from reality.” In this exhibition, the Belgian artist shows a series of oil pastels.
Andrews describes the work in the exhibition as quarantine art, which she made in a daze-like state. “A mental lockdown, that resulted from the physical quarantine. But art has always found a way to grow, even if it was limited by society.” Andrews has a studio at home where she has spent endless hours in recent months. It is therefore no surprise that her home and studio have taken a prominent role in her imaginations, in a mix-and-match form, in which she also refers to the studios and interiors of artists like Matisse, Ensor and Brancusi. She opted for the use of oil pastel, a material that must be used with the utmost care because it stains easily. A risk, especially given the large formats on which she worked: including 100 x 70 cm and 140 x 100 cm.
The quality was noticed by the public. Sofie van de Velde mentioned the exhibition in the Belgian Nieuwsblad newspaper and noted that it was "as good as sold out, but we worked hard on that for a year." The same newspaper labeled Andrews as one of the child prodigies that the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp has produced in recent years. Andrews graduated from the academy in 2016, in the city she grew up in. She comes from an exceptionally artistic family: the paintings of her uncle Nick Andrews are currently on display at Campo & Campo in Antwerp and her aunt Nadia Naveau works as a sculptor.