Hester Oerlemans & René Daniëls

Remain in Light

12 Nov 2016 - 8 Jan 2017

The second act in a new series of collaborative projects to be held in the podium space promises to be an exciting encounter between painting and sculpture. Hester Oerlemans (Schijndel, 1961) lets no medium go unused in the endeavor to express her view of the world. Large-scale installations in public space or colorful drawings – all of her works have an impromptu quality, but often a critical undertone as well. Since her art-school days, Oerlemans has had great admiration for the way in which René Daniëls (Eindhoven, 1950) confidently brushes figures and objects onto the canvas in thin, transparent layers of paint, almost in the manner of a watercolor. But she mainly feels an affinity with the way in which language and image have become entangled, in his work, in an intriguing web of poetry and hidden meanings.

René Daniëls, who in 1987 suffered a stroke from which he never entirely recovered, is known primarily as a painter. His production of objects is less known. In this exhibition several of these will be shown again for the first time in years. They display the same playful agility found in the paintings. As a response to this work, Hester Oerlemans is showing not only drawings and objects but also, and for the first time, several recent paintings. Despite the large size of these works, they clearly exude the atmosphere of her drawings. She has staged this dialogue as a joint experimental project, which will only take definitive shape once it is installed.

Oerlemans usually works on the basis of existing objects which, as she says, ‘turn the world upside-down’ due to small interventions. She has stacked, for instance, thirty-two office tables into a tower, giving shape to a nearly seven-meter-tall building, an ‘office-table-tower’ (2012). This work was nominated by the Deutsche Bank for a permanent location in the center of Berlin, where Oerlemans lives. Familiar objects assume different connotations in her work. A drawing made with spray paint and tape shows a giant orange flip-flop in a world gone awry. It is a design for a monument in memory of the millions of refugees set adrift by war and poverty. Daniëls, in turn, transformed a shoehorn and two brass wheels into a slender object that appears to be a cross between an old-fashioned skate and an inline skate.

An amazement at ordinary, trivial things links the artists, as does the ambiguity of language and image. Changing a few letters can make the image topsy-turvy: Palais des Beaux-aards, the title of a painting by Daniëls from 1983, plays on the homophonic connection between beaux-arts and 'boos-aards' (malicious people). With Oerlemans the word ‘held’ (hero) instantly changes into ‘help’ and then back to ‘held’. As Daniëls once defined it: ‘Available for use: the former no man’s land between literature, visual art and life.’

And then there is music, which plays no small part. During the late 1970s, as a young artist, Daniëls shot super-8 films of punk and new-wave bands such as the Sex Pistols and Talking Heads. That camera was then transformed, as were an LP record and a bookcase, into an energetic painting. With L'Objet (1980), a painted-on vinyl record supported by a flared brush, Daniëls sums up, in a single object, the chemistry between music and images both simply and aptly. During her days as a graphic-design student in Eindhoven, Oerlemans likewise became fascinated with new wave music. The title of the exhibition, Remain in Light, is also the title of the fourth album of Talking Heads, which came out in 1980.