Galerie Fontana @ booth 50
We present brand-new works by Jehoshua Rozenman, Robert Roest and Vivian van Blerk
Sculptor Jehoshua Rozenman makes sculptures of cast glass. His work plays with the utopian/dystopian aspects of modernity and Modernism. The artist finds his inspiration in constructed urban landscapes. In an expressionistic way, the works allude to the collective memory of a recent past and are charged with social and political histories, the works are expressionistic rather than referring literally to such histories. The works maintain a balance between construction and destruction, building and decay, and hope and darkness. They reflect the human condition, fragile yet robust, as does the material - glass.
For Rozenman, his material carries meaning. In his work, glass transforms into something darker and less translucent than the lightness and openness we usually associate the material with. Yet there is openness in the structures of his work. The ruins of Modernism seem to be stacked and connected to form new, less angular, and more playful constructions, connections that are solidified in a painstakingly technical tour de force.
Although Rozenman’s work speaks of loss and ruin, there is hope to be found in the act of building, stacking, (re)constructing. In this sense, they move ‘beyond the ma/er, to quote the title of one of Rozenman’s recent sculptures. This is where Rozenman meets Roest: in shards of hope, in playing with what is means to have a ‘vision' (whether it's utopian or spiritual).
Glass also plays a role in Robert Roest’s latest series, ‘Six paintings proving angels are really watching over us’. In each of the paintings, shards of broken glass in peeling window frames offer a see-through to an unlikely scene: clouds shaped as giant angels. We might as well be looking from within Rozenmans’s dystopian ruins to see there’s hope out there, in the vastness of the sky. As is the case in all of Roest’s series, these works are about how our perception is warped and misguided, and how this relates to the myths, stories, and ideas we believe in.
Having grown up in a strict religious community, Roest researches the human psyche’s capacity to create stories and beliefs out of observations and patterns. In his previous series, such as his paintings of dogs as internet-filtered mythical creatures, his series of giant pareidolia-invoking slices of cheese, or his paintings of blurred Persian carpets, Roest has explored his ideas various forms while perfecting his skill. In 'Six Paintings’ the setting is one of vast skies over mostly flat horizons – a typical theme in Dutch painting.
Skilfully painted in a classical style, the works connect to Rozenman’s sculptures in an unexpected way: Rozenman’s scale model glass pieces talk of the fragility of our man-made, utopian/dystopian visions, while Roest reminds us that such ideas are indeed, very much, informed by our psychological constitution, specifically: our longing for hope, the beauty therein, but also the tragedy of the resulting misconceptions.
VIVIAN VAN BLERK
Vivian van Blerk’s work is narrative and figurative. Attentive to contemporary concerns about the evolution of our environment, his ceramic works depict human-made things, and humans themselves, as part of the natural world rather than separate or opposing factions.
Clay is a remarkably unifying material – make an elephant and a plastic bottle in clay and they suddenly have a lot in common in substance, surface and size. We are reminded both are of this world. Elephant and plastic bottle share a destiny!
Time is a determining factor in the creation of Vivian van Blerk’s universe and time is also a clue to understanding its playfulness and optimism. His works are built over time, not planned in detail. Size, clay choice or a main subject may be considered in advance and even these can change. Time is necessary for the clay to evolve under the many varied actions by the artist. A form added, suggests another. The work grows in directions the artist never expected. Forms in the sculpture speak to each other and stories are created over time the interacting elements gradually acquire a density and complexity that mirrors life. From this moment the ceramic microcosm can live alone repelling further intervention. These sculptures need days and prefer weeks with the living artist who modifies the work according to whim, mood and inspiration from both the world outside and the world inside the clay.
A longer Time is implicit in Vivian van Blerk’s universe. Time enough for cities to crumble and be covered in forests, for corals to grow on sunken cars. Time offers second chances and regeneration. In the wild ecosystems that overtake the ruins a small discreet human can sometimes be spotted. The sculptures are metaphors for time, not predictions. The artist works with what he knows, his language being the elements which now interact to make our world. In the years head there might not be humans or elephants or plastic bottles. But there will certainly be something and this is a comfort.
In the sculptures life grows out of the ruins. The human legacy is an integral part of future and present ecosystems. The contemplation of time passing is a consolation akin to gazing at a starry sky. The vastness of time and space jolt us out of the immediacy of self and offer a brief detached perspective on our lives amidst the all-consuming activities of living. Time passes and repairs the dramas of today.