Speech by Margo Slomp at opening Spatium parallel

Spatium Parallel
Margo Slomp
June 9, 2019

There are several reasons why it is a great pleasure for me to be standing here today, having been given the opportunity to open a joint exhibition of the works by Andriana and Roos, one year after their graduation at the Frank Mohr Institute in 2018. I will not go into all of those reasons at this point and occasion, since a lot of things do not always have to be said to be felt and known in the hearts and minds of those involved.

I will go into a few of them however and mainly into the ones that have to do with the privileged position I find myself in, being a tutor at a master program for fine arts. Not only do I get to see year after year a new small group of artists coming to our program, get to work with them, and seeing them develop themselves often quite drastically, but also on occasion I have the opportunity to see artistic conversations or artistic dialogues arise within this group of artists working so closely together. The cooperation between Roos and Andriana is one such conversation I have seen growing.

Now, apart from seeing artists develop work, and co-operations arise, which I will be speaking on later, there is another reason for me to enjoy this opportunity and that is that Andriana and Roos have chosen a title for this exhibition, Spatium Parallel, which resonates with me personally, because of a professional interest I have for the “space of the in between”, a space that is suggested by this title. And since conversations about art are usually a kind of multi-angular and plurivocal murmurings of the visible and affective qualities of the work itself, of the context in which it is experienced, of the artist’s intentions, and of the personal hang ups of the viewer (often disguised in art critical or art theoretical musings) I’m taking the liberty to bother you with some of those today.

Let me first take a brief look at the parallel artistic developments of Andriana and Roos as I have been able to witness them.

What is most noticeable about Andriana’s development is how during the first year at our institute she started complicating the spatial investigations addressed in her works. The abstract geometric paintings with which she entered the program, had a quite clear structure of atmospheric and rather dark ground layers over which patterns or webs of geometric lines and shapes were placed. In the first year Andriana started adding more layers, using different types of gestures and mark-making, adding color and making these layers more intricate and diffuse, having them merge and separate in a more complex way. In addition to that she started experimenting with creating these intricate layers using different materials, working with transparent paper and sheets. The piling up of these layers and the visual play of trying to peel them off or find access into the painting and enter in between the different layers that were created, made these spatial geometries more challenging to relate to or wander in.

At the same time I got acquainted with Roos’ works, with her paintings of architectural structures, which were rather strict, clear and colorful pictures, carefully balanced, planned and meticulously executed. She had already started loosening her way of doing somewhat, by allowing herself to make comparable geometric patterns out of plaster casts, a material that afforded more traces of touch, little mistakes and other blemishes or what she herself has described somewhere as “manual eccentricities”. And eccentric they were, I guess, within her controlled process, since I remember several group conversations in which the dominant role of carefully parallel pasted tape kept coming up. But gradually Roos started allowing the surface, the material, and the painterly gesture to be in a kind of conversation with her during the making process, although she would probably deny giving the painting that much agency as to say that it was speaking to her. However, it brought her material and painterly investigations into closer contact with a more adventurous attitude that she was already showing in her wall paintings. And so, in the first year she shifted from looking at space or spacious structures from a distance to experiencing them more from up close, by being literally more in touch with them and sometimes even get lost in them.

So one could say that the works of these artists were in a kind of parallel development during that first year of the program. Now, parallels have a tendency to infinitely run alongside each other, and never touch; even though in theoretical mathematics parallel lines may meet somewhere in infinity. Now I believe this is actually a misconception, but I am no expert in mathematics so I really wouldn’t know. And anyway, such an unfathomable concept is rather grand and too theoretical perhaps for these quite practical oriented artists: why wait for, or even ponder infinity when all you have to do is get off the line of your trajectory and step into the space between those lines.

As I said, when working close to one another in a community, co-operations are bound to happen. But this one in particular seemed perhaps so obvious that it actually got postponed for quite a while. Artists after all are not always very keen on doing what seems obvious. But somewhere in the spring of the first year Andriana and Roos did step aside of their own trajectories and did enter into this space of encounter, and started working on a wall painting together. And I think the force of this collision in a rather confined space, had quite an impact on their subsequent individual trajectories. They filled one small space with almost their entire separate artistic languages: across large drips and smudges of watery greyblack, green, blueish and pink paint, they each created clear and strictly placed diagonals, appearing as lines, shapes, blocks and patterns in black and white, greytones, red, green and yellow; blue and red lines extended from the painting onto the floor, and several transparent banners with striped patterns were strategically placed in the space, interacting with the walls behind them.

It was like the excitement of talking with a kindred spirit, learning from a different point of view and yet of developing a shared vocabulary: after some initial and often awkward introductory sentences and gestures, once in the flow of conversation, story after story, anecdote after anecdote, observation after observation, and swirls of thoughts keep tumbling over one another in an exciting rhythm.

Their second collaborative work, which was done in a much larger space in Assen, showed a more balanced exchange and one could clearly notice how some ease had entered into the conversation: once you really get to know each other, you know what the other person means by just a word or a slight nod. In their case the installation consisted of carefully extended lines, gestures, colors, patterns and objects into the actual space, where they elegantly linked their respective works to each other, as well as drawing in the works of the other artists present.

Mind you: all this was just in their first year of encounter, and I believe it was for both of them the spark for a very important second year. But during that year their developments diverged again into parallel worlds: Roos went to New York. And as one can read in the announcement of this show there she continued with the important shift for which she herself had sown the seeds in the first year: what if she could work directly with and on found materials, objects, and grids in found structures? And what if she could bring these materials further off the wall and place the objects into the actual lived space, placing them on the floor, giving them more space to exist in?

In the meantime Andriana further developed her investigations into how her paintings, consequently taking the framed canvas as a starting and focal point, can create relations to the surrounding space they are each time placed in anew.

At the exam last year the spaces of Roos and Andriana were not immediately linked, they were showing their works in different corners. But Anne Mie, having already a longer-lasting relationship with Roos’ work, having followed and shown it for years already, was introduced to Andriana and her work, and must have noticed the potential of the space in between these parallel artistic worlds.

So what is this space, this Spatium, that we also know as the creative space between lines, between worlds and between words? One can think of the in between space, as is done in phenomenology, as a place where affects, different concepts, strange bodies, ideas and also people meet. It is not necessarily a meeting of opposites, but of things that are new to each other. And within that space, you do not ask for immediate understanding or dissolving of the differences, but you allow the different entities in it to affect each other; you create time for getting to know and listen to the different speakers in that space and you can then respond to whatever affects you, with new ideas.

I like to think of artistic collaborations in terms of these in between spaces of encounter: spaces where we can see parallel developments evolve, affinities arise, and a new and partly shared vocabulary develop. And elements of those developments of the past years are presented here, today, in this particular space. But Andriana and Roos also add another chapter to that collaboration, since here we see a direct conversation between their separate works, placed together in this particular and as it were in each other’s space. How do and will these works relate? Are they whispering, murmuring, humming, shouting perhaps, are they carefully reaching out or teasingly interfering and interrupting each other?

There actually is no way of knowing without your participation in this freshly constructed space of encounter. You as viewers are the ones who are the intermediators in this conversation, and so I would like to – on behalf of both Andriana and Roos, and of Anne Mie – invite you to join the conversation in this in between space; to fill it with your presence, move around in it, be affected by it, respond to it with what you see and feel and most of all enjoy your stay in it.

Thank you very much.

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