Julie van der Vaart & Ronald Zuurmond
During the opening, art critic Frits de Coninck will provide an introduction to the work of both artists.
Both Ronald Zuurmond and Julie van der Vaart are inquisitive artists who study elusive concepts such as time and space and try to stretch them. While Van der Vaart immortalizes moments of time in her photography, superimposing and merging them, Zuurmond builds carefully painted spaces layer by layer. Says Zuurmond, “For me, space is both physical and psychological; as a viewer you have to be able to move through that space, you have to be able to move with it.”
Recognizable forms of human figures, body parts, natural elements or utensils loom large in their images. “His works sometimes strike me as a faded memory,” Julie said of Ronald’s work. “Wanting it, and getting little fragments, but not being able to recall it fully. In that I can see a link to my own work. Where with me ‘being’ cannot be fully grasped, that is true of ‘memory’ with him.” Both artists have found a way to challenge our perception of time and space. They often show just enough to make it look like what we know, but sufficiently abstract also to allow the image to volatilize again, shroud it in riddles and keep the curiosity of the viewer firmly in its grip.
Julie van der Vaart
Julie van der Vaart (1988) is an artist represented by Galerie Wilms. Recently publisher Void published her book Blind Spot, bundling her work of the past six years in one volume.
In the current exhibition we show her recent series ‘Black Cloud’; a project about
the fluidity of being and Julie van der Vaart’s experience of depersonalization. The title is taken from Fred Hoyle’s 1957 SciFi novel The Black Cloud, which is about an intelligent, alien entity in the form of a huge cloud of gas. This idea, of a being that has no substantial or solid form, served as inspiration.
“Throughout my life, I experienced moments when I felt that my being was not in this body, not limited by the boundaries of my skin. Where is the self located? Is it in the body, the heart, the mind?
Or is it more fluid, extending beyond the body, like an energetic field? Are we as three-dimensional beings limited in our understanding of reality? And what ís reality? My work revolves around these questions.”
Julie van der Vaart is a photographic artist and educator born in Maastricht, The Netherlands, and currently living and working in Belgium. She has a Masters of Fine-arts in Photography from the Media, Arts & Design-faculty in Genk, and a further Masters of
Research in Art and Design from Sint Lucas Antwerp. She is supported by the Mondriaan Fund, receiving the stipend for established artists, and since 2021 she has been participating in the two-year international Masterclass Reflexions 2.0.
Searching for the image is the signature of Ronald Zuurmond (b. 1964). The things he paints are already there. He only has to see them, carelessly, out of the corner of his eye. They are a kind of trigger, a beginning. The rest is hard work and contemplation. You could compare that way of painting to the work of the poet. The first line of a poem is a gift line; the rest is toil. Trial and error. The comparison with the poet applies in another sense as well. Just as the poet chooses a form, so Zuurmond chooses the painting. Such a choice is a limitation within which the possibilities unfold. You experience freedom in limitation; that is the paradox of form. What the sonnet is to the poet, the painting is to him. Ronald Zuurmond is a painter who always has to figure out anew how to do it. Each canvas is a stepping stone to the next, in a sense the paintings hook into each other. “If you hit a wall, you have to do it again. Only then are you sure. And the moment you think you know something for sure, it’s over again.”
One word that comes up every so often in a conversation with Ronald Zuurmond is space. He creates that space in a technical sense by painting layer upon layer, often over previously failed paintings, scraping away the paint here and there. As if he is pulling away a curtain. This is done with a certain speed that is important to maintain the necessary distance from the canvas. For him, the space in the painting extends from front to back, much more than from left to right. The things he paints must move in that space, both in the flat plane and in depth. “You have to simultaneously have a vista and feel a resistance against which the eye bumps. Space for me is both physical and psychological. As a viewer, you have to be able to move through that space, you have to be able to move with it. You have to be able to step into the space of the painting step by step. For me it’s never about a perspectival space, I don’t want the painting to suggest something other than it physically is.” text Frits de Coninck