Inspired by the profound poem ‘Advice from the Mountain Flower’ by Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol (1781-1851), artists Mirthe Klück, Daniele Formica, Maja Klaassens, Nishiko and Kaï-Chun Chang reveal to us a world in which art and contemplation converge at the FRED&FERRY exhibition Mountain Friends. Under the curation of Mirthe Klück, visitors are guided through the Mountain Friends exhibition as they embrace and explore the ephemeral dance of existence through the eyes of the artists.
In the encounter between a flower and a monk as described in ‘Advice from the Mountain Flower’, a friendship arises between impermanence and serenity. This exhibition, curated by Mirthe Klück and her Mountain Friends, offers a multicoloured depiction of impermanence in various art forms. The poem ‘Advice from the Mountain Flower’ by Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol is a significant source of inspiration for the artists. It describes an encounter between a monk and a flower that teaches him to see the beauty and freedom in letting go of attachment and ego. The flower says:
I am a flower blooming on a mountaintop,
A symbol of the perfect buddhas' wisdom.
I have no roots, no stem, no leaves, no scent,
I am not made of the four elements.
I am an illusion, a dream, a magical appearance.
I have no form, no colour, no taste, no feeling.
I am not born, I do not die, I do not change.
I am not subject to cause and effect.
I am not dependent on anything or anyone.
I am free from suffering, fear, hope, and despair.
I am not attached to this life, nor to the next.
I am not attached to samsara, nor to Nirvana.
I am the flower of emptiness, the flower of freedom.
Each of the artists interprets this artistic and contemplative dialogue in his or her own way, at times giving the gallery the feeling of a shrine, with only the incense missing.
Maja Klaassens, Rose, Fred&Ferry
A rose is a rose is a rose
With her work Rose (2022), New Zealand artist Maja Klaassens (b. 1989) explores the delicate balance between humanity and nature by intertwining real twigs with artificial thorns made of epoxy clay. It is a symbolic work that embodies the fragility of our existence and need for protection against the unpredictability of nature. She invites the visitor to explore the boundaries between the artificial and the natural. Rose (2022) delicately blurs the line between human creation and organic growth. This human intervention is also prominently present in the small painting Grass (2022) in which Klaassens depicts the absence of humans in an almost photorealistic manner. A flattened grass circle indicates where a romantic scene may have unfolded only moments ago.
Mirthe Klück, Sun Reflex, Fred&Ferry
From sunshades to gummy bears
In Sun Reflex (2022), Mirthe Klück (b. 1991) transforms the weathered sunshade of her childhood home into an abstract hyper-realistic canvas that seems to have escaped from an Arte Povera exhibition. The work is a representation of 30 years of exposure to the elements, with the red canvas revealing subtle details like a painting of faded glory and timeless beauty.
For anyone who has ever enjoyed a Haribo gummy bear, Globule (2024) will be a delightful surprise. The normally small and familiar gummy bear has been enlarged to a size in which subtle details, such as small dents representing the hairs on the belly, become disturbingly clear. On closer inspection, the magnification proves to be faithful to reality and you experience the ceramic sculpture as a cute, misplaced alien, evoking both wonder and humour.
Kaï-Chun Chang, Distant Light Repeat on Mind no. 21, 2023, Fred&Ferry
A visual experience that sows doubt
As a painter of light, Kaï-Chun Chang (b. 1989) creates an enchanting experience with Ces lumières lointaines se répètent (2024). This Taiwanese artist, currently living and working in Paris, conjures broken light effects and rainbows on surfaces, challenging the viewer to explore the boundary between perception and illusion. This subtle play of colour and light captures the impermanence of moments and on a sunny day, makes you doubt whether the spectrum of colours on the canvas is real or merely a reflection of sunlight.
Daniele Formica, Bird, 2022, Fred&Ferry
Creative with coffee filters
Throughout the gallery, phantasmagorical creatures swirl on almost invisible threads. Daniele Formica's Coffee Filter Butterflies (2022) are fragile, almost endearing creatures displayed against the backdrop of Klück's and Chang's paintings. Like mobile fossils from an imaginary era, they remind us that the boundary between the tangible and transient is often a subtle one. A second look is almost necessary to fully appreciate the fragility and almost unreal quality of these creatures.
Ode to a lost filling
Like Klück, Japanese artist Nishiko (b. 1981) magnifies the everyday into the extraordinary. Filling Park (2015) began as a tribute to ... a lost filling and evolved into a prototype for a nature park. This artwork reminds us that even the smallest of objects can tell a story of impermanence and become a source of inspiration.
With Mountain Friends, Fred&Ferry successfully invite the visitor to embrace impermanence as a source of beauty and freedom. Each artwork is a friend along this journey, a companion in exploring the delicate threads of existence. Let this exhibition be your mountain flower, where impermanence and serenity converge in a poetic dance of colours, shapes and meanings. As I leave the gallery, my eye catches a work by Daniele Formica with the word 'AMICI' (friends) written on it, a literal affirmation of 'friends on a journey'.
Mountain Friends, Fred & Ferry