Bob van Orsouw

Klaas Kloosterboer

18 Jan - 15 Mar 2014

© Klaas Kloosterboer
Blue Suit
Blue Suit
18 January – 15 March 2014

Beginning January 18th, Galerie Bob van Orsouw Gallery will present the first solo exhibition by Dutch artist Klaas Kloosterboer in Switzerland. We are pleased to introduce his work with a text by curator and author Moritz Küng, who has been following Kloosterboer’s progression over the last decades.
A distance in time may be the best position from which to judge an artistic work. The look back enables us not only to revise, positively or negatively, but at best also to rediscover or to discover for the first time. More than twenty years ago, during my studies in Amsterdam, I came across the works of Klaas Kloosterboer. I was immediately captivated by his nonchalant and at the same time very precise, often monumental and sculptural paintings, which indeed extended into the third dimension. Kloosterboer practiced a type of painting that went beyond depiction and representation, beyond narrative and illusion, without being really „abstract“ or “conceptual” in its approach. Above all, his pictures achieved a visualisation of material: frame, canvas, paint ... and consequently: light, plane, space. Not a balanced aesthetic or a final composition were the goals of his activities, but the making visible of pictorial premises (e.g. with his much loved brown colour which, thanks to a blending of many colours, made for the „most colourful“ colour) and more or less subtle gestures (like dry glazed canvases that were splattered with oil paints, sprayed with gloss paints, folded, perforated, roughly sewn up or cut). Viewed in this light, Kloosterboer’s works dealt primarily with the decisions preceding the actual painting process. It was not the action as such that marked his artistic position in those years, but what caused, triggered, or provoked it.
“I would love to paint a picture like a whitewashed windowpane, as that is done with- out any ambition whatsoever. The paint on the glass blocks both the view in and out, while the paint on a canvas produces an image. I would like to suspend the contradiction between art and self-understanding, or rather, I aspire to paint as well as a painter does.”*
This frequently quoted statement by the artist shows how deeply his artistic practice – down to this day – is rooted in abstract, or rather “concrete” art, yet by now it also comes with the conviction that the latter’s tradition – with its influences and effects on fashion, advertising, the media, and design – cannot be evoked offhand. The disappearance of this tradition in everyday life and its immersion in the banality has liberated painting from “utopian” Malevich, “authentic” Pollock, or “truthful” Mondriaan (Frank Rijnders). Thus Kloosterboer’s artistic development has taken him from maltreated figuration to burlesque modernity, as the Dutch art critic Mark Kremer put it so fittingly, where the artist is not so much interested in an individual, roughly assembled picture as a “scene”, but in an extended scenery, coming apart at the seams. As a consequence, oversized and voluminous “suits”, “constructed mess”, or shreds of varnish occupy a space that, together with the observer, turns into a stage.
This move towards farcical histrionics becomes obvious also in a recently published book entitled At the Studio.** In an image sequence of forty-two photographs Kloosterboer arranged old and new works into changing configurations and choreographies inside his (untidy) Amsterdam studio. The latter thus no longer is a private space but a public stage, and the work of art not an icon but a mere “prop” and part of an ongoing play. The comic and the tragic side of painting – and of the painter – stand in close proximity here. In this respect, the work entitled Blue Suit, from 2007, which lends its title to the exhibition at the Bob van Orsouw Gallery, might well be taken for an allegory of the current banking crisis. It consists of an inflated, shapeless blue “giant” dangling helplessly and unstably from a cable that is connected to a slanting wheel – out of control. Klaas Kloosterboer‘s works – his staged and theatrical painting, his short films and out-of-focus photographs – obviously have lost none of their topicality in all these years. Yet the artist, pragmatist that he is, would probably counter such a statement with one of his wisdoms, or “laws”, as he calls them: “zijn en doen vallen niet samen” (being and do- ing do not correspond).
*Klaas Kloosterboer in conversation with Moritz Küng, De schoonheid van een wit gekalkt raam [The beauty of a white- washed window], (Amsterdam: Metropolis M, no. 4, 1993)
**Klaas Kloosterboer, At the Studio (Amsterdam, Reykjanesbaer, Firenze, 2010)

Tags: Klaas Kloosterboer, G. Küng, Kazimir Malevich