Toni van Tiel and Gerard Koek
A Cloud Collision Walkthrough
On a narrow strip of grandstand, your heart falls into your stomach, warning you how dangerously the stands are perched on the edge of the ravine. ‘A head over heels stadium,’ says Toni van Tiel, ‘with a bit of turf at the bottom. The PSV Eindhoven Stadium is more or less my backyard. A big oval thing, which makes me wonder: What would a slice of stadium look like?’ Toni is a sculptor on paper. In his drawings, he creates monuments, fountains, and roundabouts: sculptures in imaginary public spaces. ‘They are reduced sculptures. In drawings, the structure doesn’t have to be correct.’ Toni feels no need to realize these sculptures in three dimensions. They exist on paper, and the viewer’s imagination does the rest.
Ideas for the drawings come to him intuitively. ‘I’ll be riding on my bike and think about a single romanesco broccoli being grown on a farm. I’d love to walk through the city and come across all sorts of unexpected things, for instance because a city planner has been playing around with an endless amount of streetlamps, benches and trash cans. Humour plays a big role in my work; that comes automatically to me. But my drawings also have a certain itching power.’ That itching comes from a slight collision in the image which indicates the absurdity of the situation. You see an enormous sculpture proposed by Toni in one of his drawings and imagine how the diminutive passersby would gawk at it rather artlessly. Until you realize: those people are us.
In an entirely different way, Gerard Koek’s Half the Truth / Alphabet also gets us thinking about who we are. ‘It says something about our times,’ according to Gerard. ‘Nowadays everybody has a definite opinion. That makes things black-and-white, and discussion pointless. Half-truths, on the other hand, have something reconciliatory to them. A thing is seldom entirely good or bad, but is often somewhere in between.’ In a geometric relief, groups of letters slowly become discernible – an alphabet of four-letter words, to be precise: LOVE, HATE, KISS, LOOK, WORK. Based on a system that he has jotted down in a sketchbook, Koek separates words made out of wood into verticals, horizontals, diagonals or bands with white paint. Says Gerard, ‘By establishing the rules ahead of time, I to a large extent keep the work free of my own will.’ This results in surprising divisions of the surface, giving a word like ‘HOPE’ with hard angles an opposite feeling and making ‘QUIT’ ethereal and almost illegible. A collision between word and image.
You could call A Cloud Collision Walkthrough an exhibition of sculptures. And yet there is only one freestanding sculpture to be seen. Supported by a table-like plinth, Gerard’s sculpture ‘Beholder’s Eye’ with its brightly-coloured branches seems to be rising up out of the floor. Or is it sinking into it? Like his alphabet, it shows that there’s not only one truth. ‘It ascribes a certain creative power to the viewer,’ explains Gerard. Here he could equally well be speaking about Toni’s work. ‘But when you have to explain what you see, you can’t really put it into words.’