For their latest exhibition, the Rod Barton Gallery in London presents the work of Dutch artists Harm van den Dorpel and Bas van den Hurk in ‘You’re so Beautiful, and so on.... and so on.... and so on....’. The exhibition explores the artists’ attempts to discover a new way in which to find modern expressions through art. On the one hand, Harm van Dorpel uses new media to filter the contexts of a budding age of communication and meaning, whilst Bas van den Hurk reacts to a ‘living death’ in painting, subverting the contemporary abstract form to pave a new direction to a supposedly outdated and ineffective vehicle of speech. In advance of the exhibits opening this weekend, Dazed Digital caught up with both artists to discuss the re-workings that lean to a free and more radical future of art...
Dazed Digital: What do you find interesting about working within and incorporating a wide range of media in your art work?
Harm van den Dorpel: All media are equal and available for use. A theatre play can in some way be interpreted as physical cinema, painting as flat sculpture or software as interactive video. Everything can be persisted as information, continually transformed back and forth. For me it would be impossible to insist on a practice based on using one fixed medium. I'm interested in applying methods from media theory, information science, philosophy and semiotics on these transformations.
DD: Would you define your work as a product of art history or a reaction to it?
Harm van den Dorpel: That sounds like an interesting question but I think I can't be reflexive enough to address that. Probably both? It's hardly an opposition is it?
DD: What is the relationship between your work and the contexts of media which you feel the need to address?
Harm van den Dorpel: Coming from my own appreciation of art, often I prefer to consume video art at home, movies in cinema and internet art on my own laptop. In the context of the gallery or museum I aim to structure a situation that is depending on that context. For me this means creating objects and collages that tie into a fascination for software and digital processes yet are exploring physical parameters like materiality and scale.
Dazed Digital: Why is it you feel abstract painting has reached it’s ‘living death’? What is its logical conclusion?
Bas van den Hurk: For me this is a challenge to see if I can work in a field of which specialists say that everything already has been done. Where painting has reached the end of its logical conclusion. Where painting is dead. But which has still the potential to speak to most people. There lies for me the freedom, the opportunity. In this time there is a whole new zone of networks, virtual worlds, modes of production, contexts, texts etc to which I can relate. How does a canonical field, seen as static and outdated relate to this? How do materiality and immateriality relate? How are things represented, re-worked, re-used, put in new contexts? Painting made flux.
DD: What does the unfinished nature of your work represent?
Bas van den Hurk: My work is permanently unfinished, it therefore looks fragile and vulnerable. And it gives a contradictory feeling: on the one hand the works are estranging, unreadable, radical autonomous - you look at something you cannot understand. But on the other hand you feel it is just a mode of things, it is open to other versions, in your mind you can make these and this relates to our sense of perceiving the world: we don't understand the work, but we feel related to that feeling at the same time, because we for ourselves, other people and all the things around us, also feel uncanny to some extent.
DD: Where do you foresee the future of art?
Bas van den Hurk: In his recent book Peter Sloterdijk says we must change. And he means this in the broadest sense of the word: as well economical, political, social, ethical as aesthetical. He phrases it as an imperative. A must do. And we must. The future of the arts is therefore radical and utopian. There is space for a new avant-garde. Not a linear one as was before, but a networked one. In this lays an enormous potential and freedom. Everything can be rendered together, cut up, stitched together again, mixed and re-mixed. That is the mode with which I work at the moment, I treat my work as a montage. I cut, rework, re-use. Then I install it temporary, use it again in another form in another context. So beautiful..and so on..and so on...and so on...
You're so Beautiful, and so on....and so on....and so on..., Bas van den Hurk & Harm van den Dorpel: Rod Barton Gallery, London EC1, 14 May - 11 June, 2011