For the exhibition What Up! – De Jongste Schilderkunst van Nederland thirty artists were selected who, through their work, are a fine representation of contemporary Dutch painting.
The right balance
The exhibition was born from a need that was seen with a broad audience to have an overview of painting again for the first time in a long time. What is contemporary painting? What is happening within this frame and which artists have emerged over the past years? The composers of the exhibition, Moniek Peters and Gerrit Willems, realise that the presentation of current affairs in somewhat of a risky business. On one hand they want to show the work of artists who are at a starting point in their careers, but are already being recognized for their work, while on the other hand they want to make an appreciative and critical selection from all that’s on offer, while still including some surprises, by artists who are relatively unknown. Eventually they reached a nice balance between surprises and those most often exhibited. The result is both an inventory, as well as a final bill.
In order to get to a valid choice, a list was made of all artists who have had their debut over the past ten years. De selected artists are either currently working or living in the Netherlands, or worked here for a considerable amount of time and are now (temporarily) working abroad. hey are artists in whose work painting is of great importance, and so also includes those who mostly paint, but do not exclude themselves from other practices. Eventually a selection of thirty artists was made through a judging panel consisting of Hester Alberdingk Thijm (director of AkzoNobel Art Foundation), Gijs Frieling (artist), Doede Hardeman (conservator contemporary art at Gemeentemuseum The Hague), Hans de Hartog Jager (author and freelance journalist), Anneke Oele (director Art Consultancy), Gerrit Willems (director Centrum Beeldende Kunst Dordrecht) and Moniek Peters (conservator contemporary art Dordrechts Museum). The selected artists will each be showing two to four works in the Dordrechts Museum from November on.
Next to the contemporary, the exhibition also highlights tradition. For this tradition – after all, painting is the ultimate historically based practice – the word ‘family’ is used, in the way artist Jan Dibbets described it one day. Dibbets reasons that an artist considers himself as being part of an artistic family. A family with many generations spread all over the world. This does not necessarily mean the known masters, instead he says: “specifically less talented painters are those who can teach you many things”. This family connections are therefore not made through art historical criteria, but exist mainly because of the directions of the artist himself. Which bits and pieces from other artists does he use and which ones are cast aside? This is what this specific connection is all about.
Those who are soon to be walking through the exhibition, will immediately notice it has turned out to be a generous mixture of different styles. This means that for many people contemporary painting is hard to grasp. Still, What’s Up! shows that these at first hand contradictory seeming works all hail from the same tradition. To accentuate this, Peters and Willems visited the studios of all thirty artists. On this journey they slowly came to the realization that the current generation of artists often turn back to this same family, many of them mention the name of René Daniels, painter from the Eighties who was well known for his inventive way of working, a kind of visual thinking within which he worked with double meanings, many different layers, associations with poetry and reflections in which he showed himself as the heir to the entire cultural tradition. His work has had a massive influence on these younger generations.
The visitor of the exhibition will see the preferences and family connections of the thirty artists yet again in an enormous painting by artist Gijs Frieling. This ‘schuttersstuk’ will be presented as an apotheosis to the exhibition. Frieling, on his part, finds it interesting to connect the paintings of thirty young Dutch artists to both each other, as well as to their role models and inspirations.