Gerwin Luijendijk is known for his whimsical video/performances and idiosyncratic video-installations. His work derives from a fascination for the work-process, the reflection on artist-hood and the choices made within the artistic process.
Throughout Gerwin Luijendijk’s practice, rules and guidelines have been important elements, used as structures to interlace his topics. From growing Bonsai trees and practicing Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arrangement) Luijendijk got engaged with the idea of the authenticity of the artwork. “View of Restoration” is Luijendijk’s latest research project focusing on art restoration. By investigating it's ethical codes and various techniques, he explores restoration and its influence on the artwork and the artwork's uniqueness. Assuming himself the role of the restorer he goes on as far as to question this role in relation to the authenticity of the artwork and in extension the influence of the restorer on the artwork itself.
During a visit to the Zeeuws Museum Luijendijk got confronted with the impressive tapestries that depict the Battle of Bergen op Zoom in 1574. The quality of the old rugs struck him as odd as they looked almost like new! He soon discovered that after thorough restoration there was really little of the original material left on the rugs. They had become so worn at the beginning of the last century that most of the original material was supplemented or replaced. This realization has functioned as a catalyst for Luijendijk’s research project.
Drawing from Walter Benjamin’s conception of the aura of the artwork, which is inherent in the authenticity and uniqueness of the original, Luijendijk investigates and questions the impact restoration may have in the aura of the original. The aura as Benjamin writes, is determined in addition to its uniqueness and authenticity also by its duration, durability, tradition or historical testimony. If we accept this as true, doesn’t seem to occur a wrenching paradox when it comes to the restoration of a work of art? If restoration is intended to retain the original artwork – by supplementing, replacing or even unintentional removal of the original material – then doesn’t the so-called authenticity get affected?
What will the exact result be of Gerwin Luijendijk’s 6-month apprenticeship with restorer Jos Deuss (Dordrechts Museum a.o) remains to be seen at the exhibition “View of Restoration” at JR gallery!
Cedar Lewisohn’s multifaceted practice delves into cultural narratives from various historic positions. For him history is a collapsible archive to be scrutinised and explored, not necessarily in a strict linear form. He often takes disparate fragments from the history of art and unifies them through renderings in his own visual language. Lewisohn is interested in museum collections and finding new ways to interpret their artefacts. He is concerned with finding new personal narratives in both artworks and objects, narratives that conventional interpretation might not allow.
In an insightful conversation piece between artist/publicist/curator Hans Christian Dany and Cedar Lewisohn the idea of a German perspective on African, or what they call primitive art, in the 20s interchanges with terms such as cannibalism and artistic vampire to the idea of appropriation.
In Lewisohn’s words: “It’s not fully appropriation, but I’ve been using other people’s artworks as a starting point. Then I reinterpret them, or I appropriate them, to a degree. But maybe a better description for me is vampire. I feel slightly like an artistic vampire, just sucking blood from old artworks… and actually…these ones here that we are looking at, are originally from Léger actually, but I saw them in Cologne. I was surprised that he had these images, which look slightly like African masks, because I don’t associate Leger with that. So it’s a real mixture of influences, not only German. Maybe the line drawings have a stronger German influence going through them. But these black drawings really mix different historic and geographic sources. Usually it’s a European source material that’s taken inspiration from some aspect of African Diaspora. That’s the general, overall idea. Then also, it can be African masks as well. But the reason that came about is because I was seeing these masks in art fairs, in these fancy art fairs, like TEFAF in Maastricht. So you see the African mask, then you might see a Leger or a Lichtenstein or a Basquiat or something. And they are all just equal in the art fair. And even in the museum, there is a kind of flattening, or equalling of all these artworks.”…
…”I think between vampire and cannibal, they are both interesting terms. I like both. But the reason I thought about vampire, is because, it is a bit like blood. And there is this idea of scopophilia, you know, the love of looking. And I do feel like, recently, I go to all these museums and art fairs and I just enjoy looking at these artworks so much, it’s a type of physical pleasure that I get from looking at these artworks. I feel like I’m feeding off it in a way. Then obviously, the work needs it. You could call it vampiristic relationship. I could just draw from my imagination, but for this group of works I enjoy the element of time travel through art history. But the idea of cannibalism could work equally as well. It feels slightly more aggressive, as a term. Vampire has this erotic connotation; where cannibal has more African, Oceanic, savage connotations. Vampire is Transylvanian, European.”
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