Blog Famke van Montfoort | Art Rotterdam 2016

An art connoisseur that loves flashiness can eat his heart out at Art Rotterdam

But the opposite is true as well. Soft and subtle pieces are there to embrace those who do not like to see their own image reflected. After all, that could be way too confronting post-impulse-buy. Here is an exploration of mostly hanging pieces.

Art Rotterdam 2016 is diverse, pleasing, unpleasant and shiny. It is also noisy, big, crowded and shiny. It is anything you could ever want—and it’s shiny.

Shiny, mirroring, glittery—however you wish to call it. Glossy too. A sense of glimmer works well on art fairs, apparently. Reflecting surfaces is the key to standing out between all the other white cube presentations. And with pieces like Hard Copy [Tribal Spirit 2016] by David Jablonowski (gallery Fons Welters Amsterdam), sold for something around fourteen hundred euros, it is a very effective key. The black lacquered sculpture is four metres high and rests on light-reflecting mirrors. Blinding. Some galleries do something else. Snap Projects from Lyon shows Ninakarlin Prinz with pieces that are comfortably soft and sculptural. It is a study of materials and visibility. Textures come out of the frame, the canvas not completely covering it but giving a glimpse of what is inside. Three-dimensional paintings consisting of white and light grey—as if wanting to be invisible. The power is in its shadows and the absence of colour. Transparency as the opposite of reflecting.

Natalie Reusser’s solo presentation at Swiss’ gallery Balzer Projects makes a similar statement. Clothes as draperies or better yet: swaddles. Frail gold, ripped fabric produces a see-through vulnerability. It almost hurts. Vulnerability is something wonderful sometimes.

Italian gallery SpazioA shows artist Ode de Kort, whose photographs are at once clean and confusing. Translated as ‘Weight of a Line’, the photo shows a metal wire that pierces (or does it?) leather. Yet maybe the wire is not the line that referred to here. The dark, soft colours seem to absorb the light, and to absorb the viewer. The small photo series shown is simple and subtle: a hand playing with objects (or are they falling?) made out of clay. Breaks easy.

Now to Amsterdam. Gallery GRIMM displays an impressively sized piece of nature. Artist Nick van Woert has managed to unfold the bark of what seems half a tree. Absorbed by this dichotomy of structure and sculpture, the materiality of it all is pulling me in. Of course there is the desire to touch it. Or better yet: to rub a cheek against it. Both rooted and unrooted, the bark is isolated in an all-compassing metal frame. Nature is neatly encapsulated here.

At Martin van Zomeren, Navid Nuur strikes with a technology-infused painting. And it comes with a task. Take a photograph with your mobile phone, and then switch the flash on. The result: light absorption and black walls. Fluid beams of metallic brightness seem to come out of the image. As if the work has come to life and is through my screen reflecting back at me.

Olivier Mosset’s confetti-carpet gives Galerie van Gelder Amsterdam quite a task keeping it in place. Of course it is not a carpet really, but regardless some careless onlookers treat it as such. What a mess. The brilliant idea to put an “it has always been here”-looking fence around it makes things clearer and cleaner. The piece is monotonous gray but also makes me feel playful: especially now that it’s not possible anymore I would like to stand—or better yet, jump—in it, being absorbed in this dotty ball pit.

Then there is Sophie van der Velde from Antwerp, a newcomer in gallery land. With Dutch artist Germaine Kruip the space is used as with a projection while it’s no projection. Well perhaps it is. The piece of geometric mirrors forms a puzzle. Its reflection neatly casts lights and shadows on the wall, small but bright. There it is, somehow shiny.