TORCH Gallery is pleased to present its upcoming exhibition “Live forever or die trying (manic abstract painting now)”, a group show curated by Twan Janssen.

How many times have we heard about painting ‘being dead’? I guess, too many. Under its tragic-comic motto, the set of works displayed at TORCH Gallery from the 16t of October playfully reflects on the obsolescence of what has become one of the most famous commonplaces of the 20th century art criticism’s tradition. The works on display do not indulge in repetition or sentimentality, their quality and variety account for a generation of artists that do not take themselves too seriously and yet still deserve their place in the great tradition of Fine Arts. In spite of itself, “Live forever or die trying (manic abstract painting now)” does make an important statement, painting still prevails.

For this very occasion, Thomas Elovsson (SW) closed the gallery window with one of his ‘shutters’, inviting us to look again with renewed perspective at the art of painting and beyond.
In the mode of banners casually hanging from the walls, both the works by Polly Apfelbaum (USA) flag barcodes of stunning colors mastered from the mass media that seem to give identity to a community that she imagines as resolutely critical, self reflexive and witty. 
For their abstract work, both Peter Zimmerman (GER) and Maarten Ploeg (NL) (deseased earlier this year) draw on computer technologies as medium. As Zimmerman produces colorful aggregates of psychedelic shapes as a result of his investigation into communication processes, Ploeg’s video work puts in motion simple patterns and clear colors. 
Carrie Yamaoka (USA) makes reflective and visually disturbing paintings of mylar encapsulated in resin. They free painting from its traditional support and exhibit a new palette of acidy and saturated colors by layering them with clear resins.            
Kathryn Spence (USA), known for her awkward out-sized mud puppets, shapes ‘the world we dump’ into objects. By staging and reframing objects taken out from our daily life as detritus themselves, Spence’s works draw us into a familiar though disquieting world where what is left out becomes both the spectator’s object of fascination and repulsion.     
The painting sculptures by Neal Rock (GB) distance us through smiling from the social rituals they stand for and parody. They are pigmented silicone birthday cakes and result as powerfully haptic as their originals. They pleasurably question our social habits.          
In the work of Klaas Kloosterboer (NL), modernist claims are being tempered with a burlesque dimension that turns into a witty deed his ritual of occupying space. This burlesque dimension that acquires his work despite his use of sober tones and patterns stand for his very personal assessment of modernism today.     
The paintings by Roland Schimmel (NL) result from inquiring into vision processes and try to capture those afterimages that pup up in our retina as we close the eyes.     
Twan Janssen (NL) reinvents acrylic paint as a multi-functional medium to create sculptures, reliefs and objects. Twan gives the painterly gesture a new definition as the paint is being used in dried stripes and woven into paintings that acquire the quality of a fabric. This refreshing approach to the technique of painting results in Twan’s gifts, canvases wrapped in this fabric made out of acrylic and adorned with ribbons and butterflies.  

Funny, sometimes tender and often auto-referential, all those works prove that much is still been done while drawing on painting. As hybrid objects, they all defy easy categorizations, feed from different fields and take the spectator on a trip between affect and reflection. While fascinating us by simultaneously being attractive and repulsive, most of the works exposed expose us. Indistinctly through pleasure or discomfort, they talk to and speak about our own body. They represent a challenge both ethically and aesthetically as they make us aware of our place in society while reframing basic artistic issues by appropriating, subverting or perverting objects and techniques from ‘old’ and new media. Most do so as part of a critical gesture towards the world that has enabled their own existence, whether it is the Art World or more broadly towards society itself. For their tender cruelty, audacity and fascinating power, they help mapping a new geography for the Fine Arts.

Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2004 

 

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