Kees Goudzwaard 'Setting for White'
Press Preview: Monday, March 26th 5.30pm
Opening: Monday, March 26th 7pm
Monday, March 26th, Cardi Black Box gallery opens 'Setting for White', the first solo-show in Italy of the
internationally renowned dutch artist Kees Goudzwaard (Utrecht, Netherlands, 1958), curated by Art At
Kees Goudzwaard’s work is easily recognizable. This is a consequence of the production process of the work, as Kees Goudzwaard commences by creating a collage of cut out square and rectangular pieces of coloured paper, acetate and transparent foil, which he composes in more or less regular grids by fixing them with paper masking-tape. This process is slow and complex, and develops gradually as it implies numerous decisions and a lot of looking and waiting until the artist finds he has achieved the desired composition and atmosphere.
At this point Kees Goudzwaard decides he can paint his original collage, meticulously reproducing it on canvas in a scale of 1:1, thus transforming the creative act of painting in a time-consuming work of transposition. Working like a photographer who has set his camera’s diaphragm to remain open for months, occasionally for years, Kees Goudzwaard transforms the copy into a new original as the collage, that bears the trace of the artist’s creativity, never enters the public arena and gets destroyed once the work is finished.
This way of working gives this artist the freedom to concentrate exclusively on paint and colour, allowing him and consequently his public to turn to the painted image without any source of distraction as the composition and the subject have become in some way insignificant. The marks of the tape on the canvas have a double function: on the one hand they provide a sense of scale and reality to the composition; on the other, by creating different grids and spaces they become a substitute for the line. Thus the tape itself becomes the element that contains, marks, selects and bears the sign of the artist’s hand and of his decisions. This way, the hard work of transferring onto canvas a bidimensional object he has himself created, allows him to reacquire authorship of an image that doesn’t seem to imply any creativity. This is why Kees Goudzward’s oils seem voluntarily provisional, in some way open, unfinished, because he has decided to separate the moment of editing with the moment of painting. This tendency derives from an unconscious acquired scepticism, from an impulsive rejection of the idea of permanency and eternity linked to painting. However, these interventions are not just auto reflexive, post-modern exercises, but are born out of the desire to sample new issues questioning but not cancelling the artist’s hand. Thus the fact that Kees Goudzwaard’s production is twice removed from its author, allows it to acquire an independence that explains its strong and silent physical presence.
It is as if in order to find a way of communicating directly with his public Kees Goudzwaard needs to operate in a purely pictorial universe made of colour, space and depth; a universe made of transparencies, borders and grids which, though visually totally bi-dimensional, offers a layered visual experience and allows each viewer the freedom to emotionally relate to colour ad shape.
The fact that Kees Goudzwaard stubbornly trys to defy the imperatives of innovation and development, as if he were painting for himself prompts the question of why his work can’t be dismissed as a technically perfect and highly seductive obsessive activity of copying self-made models or reduced to an insiders analysis on the contemporary state of painting. I believe, instead, that Goudzwaard’s work has such a direct emotional appeal because the painstaking production process is simply a means to an end, which is complex, aesthetical and conceptual. The work’s apparent detached and mechanised formal aspect allows the artist to focus on the representation of his own painting process, as a metaphor for the representation of time. By looking at Kees Goudzwaard’s work we gain the capacity to imagine time without events: time as a totally abstract monolithic concept. This is why his production process becomes conceptually important while at the same time cannot be the key to interpret his work and returns to being simply instrumental. It explains why even if Kees Goudzwaard’s creativity manifests itself in the first phase of composing the paper and tape collages, it is the slow process of creating the paintings that allows him to capture time as a solid entity. This I believe explains the sense of calm and peace that is often associated with the experience of his work, because the extended time of their construction manages to contrast the schizophrenic and fragmented relationship to time and reality we experience in our digitalized and virtual world.