Maki Na Kamura


Maki Na Kamura – fGf XXVII, 2011

Watching a painting by Maki Na Kumara is an experience. Is it an abstract image or is it a landscape? Does she uses paint or watercolour? The colours are at times very mute and sometimes quite electric.
When I researched her after seeing some of her work at the Biennale of painting, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium, I was even more intrigued.


Maki Na Kamura – fGf X, 2010

Maki Na Kamura comes from Japan, having moved to live in Germany in the mid-1990s. She studied painting under Jörg Immendorff, initially in Frankfurt and later in Dusseldorf. Since 2005 she has been living and working in Berlin.
In 2005, she exhibited a number of works herself. Rather than sending invitation cards or posting details online, the show was announced only via a large advertisement in a Berlin daily newspaper: “IHR SCHÖNSTES BILD HAT SIE VERKAUFT UND IN EINE ANZEIGE VERWANDELT. NUN SPIELT SIE LE COUCOU AUF DEM PIANO…” (She’s sold her best picture and turned it into an advertisement. Now she’ll play “Le Coucou” on the piano …). A grand piano was acquired, on which Na Kamura practised every day in front of her pictures and, as announced, pondered questions like: Is this an exhibition? Or: Am I now part of the art world? This one-week event, referred to in one piece on her show as “Na Kamura’s first discrete entrance into the arena of the Berlin art world, took place in an empty shop at Fasanenstrasse 69, Berlin.


Maki Na Kamura – fGf XVIII, 2011

Maki Na Kamura’s paintings are, at their core, landscapes. Instead of idealized scenes pulled from nature, she builds her landscapes from abstract washes of color, modernist skyscrapers, and most notably, other paintings. She borrows motifs from the history of pre-Impressionist landscape painting – Hokusai, as well as links to the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, Jean-François Millet and Whether Giogione’s “Sleeping Venus” (1510),  or mountains and trees of Hans Bol.

Subtle as they are, you easily miss the references, however. And indeed, this is part of the artist’s game. “I build these histories into my landscapes,” she says. “Surely, [the references] should have a presence, but they shouldn’t be so clear that you get them immediately. The historical references aren’t a template. They’re nothing more than a vocabulary with which I can build new sentences. It’s like a game, an earnest game though. It’s a challenged to the masters.


Maki Na Kamura – fGf XXVIII, 2011

In Kamura’s series fGf (the ‘fat gold frame’ in question is imagined, not shown, 2010–11) and GiL (‘geometry in landscapes’, 2011–13) – she explores cultural exchange as export/import. Some of her latest landscape paintings that bear titles like “. SS 1”, “. SS 2” etc., an abbreviation for shan shui (mountain water), the traditional Chinese art of landscape painting. Rocks float. Figures float. Or is this just what a viewer with a firm belief in a single horizon wishes to see?


Maki Na Kamura – .SS4, 2015

In 2012 Maki Na Kamura received the Prix Marcel Broodthaers and in 2013 she was awarded the Falkerot Prize.

Check out her website for more.




Jessica Rankin – Cloud from Silt, 2009. Embroidery on organdy, 113 x 184 cm

This spring the works of artist couple Julie Mehretu (°1970) and Jessica Rankin (°1971) were brought together in the exhibition ‘Earthfold’ at the museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium. They share the same studio space in New York and both use abstraction as artistic language. How fascinating it was to see how their artistic practice is naturally different but at the same time seems to fit so well together and resulted in collaborative works made for this exhibition.


Jessica Rankin – Empty Night, 2009. Embroidery on organdy, 274 x 234 cm


Jessica Rankin – Empty Night, 2009 – Detail

Julie Mehretu is primarily known for her works expressing a metropolitan dynamic. I had admired her work in several exhibitions and museum collections. The work of Jessica Rankin was new to me and such a great discovery. I loved it at first sight. Rankin is born in Australia and she reworks the typical compositions of geographical and astronomical maps in collages, watercolours and embroidered works. As a lover of textile art I fell hard for her embroidery works. She uses organdy as a carrier which gives the work an interesting transparency. The loose threads at the back all add to the composition at the front side. Patterns and meaning stitched together.


Jessica Rankin – Quis Est Iste Qui Venit, 2012. Embroidery on organdy, 213 x 123 cm


Jessica Rankin – Quis Est Iste Qui Venit, 2012 – Detail


Jessica Rankin – Noesis, 2010. Embroidery on organdy, 182 x 182 cm


Jessica Rankin – Untitled I, 2011. Embroidery on organdy, 150 x 150 cm


Jessica Rankin – Passage Dusty (Humming), 2007. Embroidery on organdy, 106 x 152 cm


Jessica Rankin – Termagent (La Fille de Theia), 2014. Embroidery on organdy, 107 x 107 cm

For an artsy web-exhibition of 33 works from Jessica Rankin click here.

All pictures in this post are taken by me in the Earthfold exhibition.

Origami – Sarah Morris


Sarah Morris – Rose (Origami), 2014. Based on a crease pattern “Rose” by Noboru Miyajima. Household gloss print on canvas 214 x 214 cm.

For her films and paintings she travels the world. Sarah Morris (° 1967, UK) lives and works in New York but filmed in China, Rio de Janeiro and Paris. And moreover she manages to film where no journalist would ever come in. It might help that she never records sound – “it’s art anyway” she explains. Her mission is to search for the truth  behind the glossy appearances in the economical capitals of the world.


Sarah Morris – Angel (Origami), 2009. Based on a crease pattern “Harpy” by Jason Ku. Household gloss print on canvas 214 x 214 cm.

I discovered her work in the M-Museum in Leuven (Belgium) where a good overview of her work was shown earlier this year. Morris’ paintings, known for their distinct use of color, explore themes like power, style, economy. I like how her research of urban stories is translated into different forms. Her paintings, films and filmposters all seem to convey her insights of power relations into sounds, images, colours, patterns…


Sarah Morris – Rockhopper (Origami), 2009. Based on a crease pattern “Penguin” by Noboru Miyajima. Household gloss print on canvas 289 x 289 cm.

I particularly liked her painting series Origami and the painted over vintage film posters. Morris used to work as assistant for Jeff Koons but now travels the world as a nomadic urbanist looking for intriguing power games to unravel in her art.
Find out more on her website.


Sarah Morris – Pulp Fiction, 2013. Ink and gouache on film poster, 157×115 cm.


Sarah Morris – Il Coltello Nell’Acqua, 2014. Ink and gouache on film poster, 140×100 cm.

Gareth Nyandoro


Gareth Nyandoro – Auya matissue akachipa akasimba! (cheap and strong toilet tissue mobile shop) 2015. Ink on paper, 220 x 310 cm

Gareth Nyandoro (°1882 Zimbabwe) is fascinated by street life, the energy of public life, loud street vendors… His large works try to catch the hustle and bustle of the local markets in Harare.
Nyandoro recently returned to Harare after a 2 years residency at the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2014-2015). He represented Zimbabwe at the 56th Venice Biennale.


Gareth Nyandoro – We dem boyz, 2015. Ink on paper, 153 x 207 cm

During his residency in Amsterdam he further explored his self-discovered technique: he makes cuts in paper, rubs ink or paint into the cuts and tears strips of paper to create a 3D effect. He calls the technique ‘Kuchekacheka’ from the Shona verb ‘cheka’ which means ‘to cut’. His large works resemble bill boards pulled right from the streets.


Gareth Nyandoro – Mugodhi Gospeling (Gospeling Well) 2016. Ink on paper, mounted on canvas 263 x 222 cm


Gareth Nyandoro – Series Kuzviitira (Letter), 2015. Ink on paper

He currently continues to work from his studio in Harare.  Thanks to Tiwani Contemporary gallery (London) some of his works were to be discovered at Art Brussels 2016. Nice discovery indeed!

Power Flower


Bas Meeuws – Untitled (#92), 2013

Self taught photographer Bas Meeuws (°1974, The Netherlands) is inspired by the historical flower paintings of the Golden Age. The painters used to combine flowers from different seasons to achieve a dreamlike and timeless bouquet of exquisite beauty. Meeuws does the same. He photographs flowers separately and combines them with Photoshop emulating the same artificial beauty.


Bas Meeuws – Untitled (#92), 2013 (detail)

In the photograph above (#92) he takes the flower composition to a modern aesthetics: a copper design table, a modern vase, all flowers are full and perfect. Some irony slips in when he composes the bouquet, in between the classical tulips and peonies he places kale leaves and a flowering bean stem.The curved line of the tulip is repeated in the body of a blue dragonfly. The pattern in the vase is repeated in the spots on the butterfly and the caterpillars. While looking at Meeuws’ work you continue to discover new details over and over again.


Bas Meeuws – Untitled (#65), 2012


Bas Meeuws – Untitled (#65), 2013 (detail)

The reflection of a window in the photograph above (#65) is a clear reference to the classical flower compositions with the same characteristic such as the paintings of Jan Davidsz. de Heem. In the reflection you can see shutters, houses and a cloudy sky. Meeuws constructed this image, had it printed on poster format and hung this poster opposite to the set up with the vase in his studio. By shining a flashlight on the poster the image was reflected on the vase. So what we see is a real reflection of an artificial image.


Bas Meeuws – Untitled (#41), 2013

In the work above (#41) lots of insects are to be discovered such as the hoverfly. Meeuws includes hoverflies in most of his works as a tribute to historical flower painter Jan van Huijsum who seemed to use this particular insect as a signature.

I discovered the works of Bas Meeuws in the Power Flower exhibition in the Rockox house in Antwerp. The setting of the photographs in this historical house close to the works that have inspired this contemporary artist was really stunning.


Check out his beautiful artist website here.

Rinus Van de Velde – Donogoo Tonka


Rinus Van de Velde – work from ‘Donogoo Tonka’ – boat (2015-16, charcoal on canvas)


Rinus Van de Velde – exhibition view ‘Donogoo Tonka’ in SMAK

Rinus Van de Velde (Belgium, 1983) works big. The core of his work consists of very large charcoal drawings on canvas. The drawings are the end result of an exciting process that takes approximately one month: he looks for illustrations, makes real life stage sets, directs, acts, photographs and finally draws a selected photograph. To the drawings he then adds text.
He likes to have friends around in his studio and involves them in the preparation of his images, sometimes engages them to pose and to contribute to the accompanying texts.


Rinus Van de Velde – work from ‘Donogoo Tonka’- car (2015-16, charcoal on canvas)


Rinus Van de Velde – work from ‘Donogoo Tonka’ – the bar (2015-16, charcoal on canvas)

In his second exhibition at S.M.A.K. (Ghent, Belgium) Rinus Van de Velde visualises the novel “Donogoo Tonka ou les miracles de la science” (1920) by the French  author Jules Romains. He has converted this satire on capitalism and the ideology of progress into a storyboard of nine scenes in which he plays the leading character. Using drawings, texts on the wall and stage set elements he has constructed a mesmerising installation.


Rinus Van de Velde – work from ‘Donogoo Tonka’ – papers (2015-16, charcoal on canvas)


Rinus Van de Velde – work from ‘Donogoo Tonka’ – psychiatrist (2015-16, charcoal on canvas)


Rinus Van de Velde – work from ‘Donogoo Tonka’ – jungle (2015-16, charcoal on canvas)


Rinus Van de Velde – Sweet and intoxicating reverie (boat), 2016


Rinus Van de Velde – exhibition view ‘Donogoo Tonka’ in SMAK with stage set wave in forefront

His friend Koen Sels contributes a lot to the accompanying texts and also interviewed Rinus while working in his studio. It’s a very interesting read if you want to know more about Rinus Van de Velde. Find it here.
Exhibition still on view in S.M.A.K. till 5 June 2016 – highly recommended and if you manage to visit don’t miss the work Rinus Van De Velde made in situ in the museum café.
All pictures are taken by me in the exhibition.

Sculptures by Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock is well known for his unique style of action painting. But did you know he made sculptures too?
I discovered some of his sculptural work in the exhibition Jackson Pollock – Blind Spots.


Jackson Pollock – Untitled, 1949 (wire dipped in plaster and paint)

At the beginning of his career, Jackson Pollock was set more on sculpture than painting. In a letter to family, dated 1933, Pollock said:

I am devoting all my time to sculpture now – cutting in stone during the day and modelling at night – it holds my interest deeply – I like it better than painting – drawing is the essence of all.


Jackson Pollock – Stone Head, c1930-33 (stone)

Stone Head was made by Pollock in the early 1930’s when he was about 18 or 19 years old. This carved basalt head is the first recorded three dimensional work by Pollock. It was made under influence of the sculptor Ahron Ben-Shmuel (1903-84) with whom Pollock studied and later apprenticed after his move to New York in September 1930.

Sculpting was something Pollock would turn to in hard times, when painting – or life – was proving difficult. A collaboration with his friend, the sculptor Tony Smith, would be the last creative endeavour he would undertake before his death in a car crash in 1956 aged 44.


Jackson Pollock – Untitled, 1956 (plaster, sand, gauze and wire)

Tony Smith and Jackson Pollock met in the late 1940s at the time Pollock was making some of his greatest paintings. While their work shares little stylistically, their many shared interests included Native American sand painting, modern architecture, and the writing of James Joyce, and they quickly became close friends. Pollock was a painter who loved to make sculpture and Smith was an architect who loved to paint and finally found his calling in sculpture.

The sculptures Pollock made at Tony Smith’s home in 1956 are constructions of wire, gauze, and plaster. Shaped by sand-casting, they have a heavily textured surface similar to what Pollock often sought in his paintings.


Jackson Pollock – Untitled, 1956 (plaster, sand, gauze and wire)


Jackson Pollock – Untitled, 1956 (plaster, sand, gauze and wire). In the background Number 12, 1952

Pollock’s experiments in media such as papier-mâché and sand-casting show an interesting insight in his creative process or should we say “creative play”. We can even detect his sculptural impulse in his efforts to animate the surfaces of his paintings by attaching found objects such as bees or cigarette butts.


Jackson Pollock – Number 3, 1949: Tiger (oil paint, enamel paint and cigarette butts on canvas on board)

Pictures shown are taken by me in the exhibition Blind Spots – my apologies for the poor quality.