'Spacetime' is a concept from the theory of relativity, which has formed the broad framework for contemporary science since 1905. Although very precisely measurable and applicable, the theory of the entanglement of space and time also leads to many apparent contradictions. A far-reaching application of these proven laws quickly leads to paradoxes that go beyond our intuition and shake our classical thought structures.
When I first made the connection in my mind between the work of Hans Lemmen and Maurits Cornelis Escher, it happened quite spontaneously. It seemed like a matter of feeling, and I could not immediately pinpoint why the link felt so natural. After all, Escher's woodcuts and lithographs are highly systematic. The structures he assembles are almost mathematical in nature. The work of Hans Lemmen, on the other hand, is primarily about the relationship between man and landscape and man and animal. The Art Museum The Hague attributes a kind of 'archaic' quality to Hans Lemmen's drawings: they seem to evade the temporary and incidental.
During my solo presentation with Hans Lemmen at ArtOnPaper Amsterdam, I discovered that others saw it too: there is more than just an intuitive connection between the work of Lemmen and Escher. In their work, both artists mix different layers of time and space. The cyclical idea and even the concept of infinity can be found in the work of both, each in a different form. In addition, both artists work with ingredients from their immediate surroundings. They create images with what we can see and what we can touch: the landscape, animals, tools, towers and buildings. Neither the microscopic world nor the astronomical appear in the work.
After all, we feel connected to nature and the world around us first and foremost through our everyday observations and experiences. Nevertheless, the unapproachable is also a permanent subject of the work: the world of ideas and the dream world. After all, our capacity for abstract thought also connects us to things that are not there. For example, we are able to think about the lives of people thousands of years ago on the basis of archaeological findings. Thanks to a certain mathematical insight, we can imagine dream worlds with eternally flowing waterfalls and infinite staircases.
Just as with Escher we find transformations in which forms and figures flow into one another, with Lemmen we see blends of positive and negative images. Background and subject are often interchangeable and a blending occurs which, through free association and our imagination, brings a new dimension to the work.
The exhibition Spacetime is intended to be a voyage of discovery, sharpening the links and contrasts between the works of Maurits Cornelis and Hans Lemmen. Without the urge to connect the two artists with a direct line, I hope to bring together some remarkable elements from their works in order to draw attention to the special qualities in the practice of both artists.