Matthew Allen - Robert Roest - Eva Spierenburg
Fontana is excited to present the group exhibition Hidden Remains with works by Eva Spierenburg, Matthew Allen, and Robert Roest, curated by Pieter Dobbelsteen.
The exhibition plays with the idea of a spiritual or religious residue in contemporary art.
In the art works in this exhibition this residue remains –at first glance– hidden. However, upon closer inspection some of this hidden layer may reveal itself.
The work of New Zealand born, Australia based artist Matthew Allen is rooted in a minimal tradition. These works seem to deal primarily about the artist’s relationship to the material – in his case graphite. The artist has spent many hours rubbing powdered graphite onto his canvases until an almost otherworldly metallic shine appears. Graphite is one of two mineral forms of carbon. The other form is diamond. Moreover, carbon is a primary element in all known life, thus closing a poetic circle between artist and material. Curator and writer Macushla Robinson spoke of Allen's works as 'crystallised time’. Indeed, the works may be less about the material than about the process of materialising intangible qualities such as time and focus. In this sense the works can be associated with the practises of mindfulness and of mediating, inviting the viewer to simply be and observe. For Allen, his way of working is a form of knowing – a form of knowing that is beyond rational inquiry.
Dutch artist Eva Spierenburg takes a different approach. Whereas Allen’s work merges mind and matter in a meditative, almost zen-like fashion, Spierenburg’s work deals with the (human) body. Spierenburg’s interest in the finitude of life and the experience of our corporeal existence is a highly personal continuation of a long standing tradition in western art and christian religious practices that deal with life, death, and suffering. The work stillness and the things that were swallowed by the earth, for example, refers to a mediaeval reliquary in the shape of an arm, holding a relic in the form of a perceived saint’s bone. The idea of a body part holding a spiritual essence is a reversal of the idea that bodily experience may be foundational to spirituality and religion. The 'object-paintings’ in Spierenburg's ongoing series hidden remains also suggest corporeality with their sculpted frames as 'bone structures' supporting the skin and flesh made of latex, fine woven fabric, or wax. Yet they’re mysterious enough to be perceived as artistic renderings of something more sacral.
At first glance, no sacral essence is detectable in the four large ‘cheese paintings’ by Robert Roest. His paintings seem banal at first, yet they’re more than that. According to the artist, when placed together, the works evoke ’the austere atmosphere in a Roman sanctuary’. Indeed, the shapes of the painted slices resemble those of roman windows. This speaks for the artist’s approach: Roest is able to connect the most banal and mundane themes to our collective religious or mythological mind. Roest is an artist who paints in series, each series uniquely different from previous ones. There’s almost always a religious subtext in Roest’s work, albeit not always easily detectable. He could paint aggressive dog memes as modern incarnations of the mythological guard dog of hell, Cerberos, or carefully combine fragments of video game landscapes to liken the equally imaginary realms of heaven and hell; in other series the religious references are more clear, for example in a recent series of angel-shaped clouds seen through broken windows. Always playful and humorous, the subtext in Roest’s works is one of inquisitive research into the human psyche, with a special interest in humankind's religious mind.
The 'hidden remains’ are part of our collective memory, and thus of our visual memory. They keep popping up in modern and contemporary art. Whereas our Modern predecessors looked towards theology (Turell, Rothko) or a quasi-religious sublime experience (Newmann), contemporary positions –such as the ones of Spierenburg, Allen and Roest– fan out beyond these approaches, as well as beyond the irony of postmodernism. The works in this exhibition are playful and sincere, uniquely contemporary yet rooted in art historical tradition.
Eva Spierenburg (born 1987, Lelystad, the Netherlands, works in Utrecht) studied at the HKU in Utrecht and the Rijksakademie voor Beelende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2015-2016). Her work has been exhibited at, amongst others: Kunstenlab, Deventer (solo, 2021); CINNNAMON, Rotterdam (2020); Centraal Museum, Utrecht (solo, 2019); CEAC, Xiamen (solo, 2019); AMNUA Museum, Nanjing (2018); Garage Rotterdam (2017); Royal Palace, Amsterdam. In 2018 Spierenburg received the KF Hein Award. She teaches at the ARTez University for the Arts in Zwolle, the Netherlands.
Mathew Allen (born 1981, Auckland, New Zealand, lives and works Sydney, Australia) has studied at the Sydney College of the Arts. He has held international studio residencies at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris and at the Mark Rothko Art Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia. He has had solo exhibitions at: Fox/Jensen/McCroy, Auckland, New Zealand (solo, 2018); CINNNAMON, Rotterdam (solo, 2017); Sullivan-Strumpg, Singapore(solo, 2016); PS Project space, Amsterdam (solo, 2016).
Robert Roest (1992, Leerbroek, lives and works in Jersey City, USA) studied at the HKU, Utrecht. His works has been exhibited at: LAM Museum Lisse (ongoing collection presentation); CINNNAMON, Rotterdam (solo 2020, 2019, 2017, 2016); Wildenberg Art Projects, Naarden (duo, 2018); Ballroom Project, Antwerp (2019); Galerie Sofie van de Velde, Antwerp (2018).
Pieter Dobbelsteen (1973) studied philosophy at Tilburg University and was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. In 2015 he founded CINNNNAMON Rotterdam, where he ran a highly acclaimed exhibition program until 2020.
Thursday Saturday 18 June – Saturday 16 July 2022
(20 July - 20 August by appointment only)
Bloodhound & Friends
2 April - 9 July 2022