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Indepth Arts News:

"We’ll slide down the surface of things…: Artificial Reality and Paintings by Frank Bauer, Arnout Killian, Glen Rubsamen, Herman Verkerk"
2002-09-08 until 2002-11-10
De Vleeshal
Middelburg, , NL Netherlands

We live in an artificial reality. Our inner life is flooded with images of better worlds evoked by mass media. These images shape our desires, as well as our experiences. For male supermodel Victor Ward, the main character in Bret Easton Ellis’ novel Glamorama (1998), a situation or emotion is only real when it reminds him of an image from a magazine, video-clip or movie. But not only our inner life, also in the physical world around us, artificiality has become accepted as part of reality. In the design of our daily surroundings – landscape, shops, public and domestic space – spectacle and experience often seem more important than concepts like authenticity or reality.

How do we deal with reality becoming increasingly artificial? Victor Ward’s response is to remember a quasi-philosophical line from a song by U2 :‘We’ll slide down the surface of things…’ But generally this development is condoned, because it would lead to a dangerous loss of meaning. Because of this, hardly any insights in how to deal with artificial reality have been developed. But perhaps (figurative)painting can contribute to this. Painting has had, after all, a long tradition of intensifying reality. Each of the three artists in ‘We’ll slide down the surface of things…’ investigate the artificial reality in which we live.

Frank Bauer

Frank Bauer (1964, lives and works in Düsseldorf) is a painter and a DJ. With a light undertone of melancholia, he portrays his friends in clubs, at a party at someone’s house, or at the end of a long night. Bauer’s paintings are based on photographs of moments that at first glance seem uneventful. But by studying these moments as he paints them, Bauer subtly unveils previously unnoticed details in the interaction between those portrayed. At the same time, his paintings breathe a longing for glamour. He illustrates our desire to – inspired by images from the mass media – see moments in our lives from a distance, as images from a more beautiful, more stylish, better world.

Arnout Killian

Arnout Killian’s (1969, lives and works in Amsterdam) work fits in a long painterly tradition of a fascination with light. Whereas the painters in this tradition mainly want to catch the natural light in, for example, landscapes and stilllives, Killian is interested in artificial light. He paints the hard light, full of contrast, of catwalks and window displays, and the typical cool blue light in images from the internet. His interest in artificial reality is also apparent in the beautiful as well as banal images he chooses to paint: an anonymous hotel room that wants to convey luxury and comfort, the carefully cultivated nature of a golf course, a woman whose identity is hidden by a beauty mask.

Glen Rubsamen

The paintings of Glen Rubsamen (1959, lives and works in New York) are deeply rooted in the tradition of landscape painting, yet at the same time they are very modern. He combines lyricism about the beauty of nature with the terrifying emptiness of a resting area along the highway. The romantic ideal of untouched nature has permanently evaporated. In Rubsamen’s paintings, nature according to travel brochures and Euro Disney has taken its place. Thus lampposts, for example, have become natural elements in dramatic compositions with palm trees. In these partly artificial landscapes beauty is not lost, it has become ambivalent.

Herman Verkerk

Under the name of his bureau Event Architecture, Herman Verkerk (1963, lives and works in Amsterdam) has created designs for, among others, the Dutch fashion label So by Alexander van Slobbe, and several museums. For this exhibition with (and about) painting Verkerk has, in line with the theme of the exhibition, created a hypermodern museum space. The enormous contrast between this space, and the Gothic architecture of De Vleeshal creates its own artificial reality.

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