I depict a life I never had. For me, daydreaming is more important than what happens in reality. After all, you can experience so much more in your mind than you can in reality.
— Rinus Van de Velde, 2023
Galerie Max Hetzler, London is pleased to announce Rinus Van de Velde’s (b. 1983) first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Introducing a new body of work, this exhibition presents the multiple aspects of Van de Velde’s drawing practice, complimented by examples of his ceramics and sculptural props. With each medium constituting a visual language of its own, Van de Velde constructs a colourful universe that sets the stage for his ‘fictional autobiography’. The exhibition chronicles the quests of the artist’s alter ego as he jumps from one place to another and dips in and out of the chapters of this nonlinear narrative.
Developed out of a long-standing appreciation for the medium of drawing, its spontaneity and versatility, in recent years, the artist has added vibrant oil stick works to his characteristic charcoal drawings. Channelling painting’s luminosity and grandeur, Van de Velde employs oil stick and charcoal alike to transcribe the adventurous spirit inherent to drawings onto a large scale.
Mapping Van de Velde’s imaginary journeys, this exhibition explores the fine line separating fact from fiction, proximity from distance. Invoking the freedom of landscapes and the vastness of the sea contrasted with the privacy of bedroom interiors and portraiture, the artist tells the story of his practice: the daydream of venturing outdoors in the plein air fashion of Matisse, Bonnard and Cézanne, and the reality of fantastic travel from inside the studio. Entering into his fictitious universe, the artist pictures his imaginary counterpart exploring distant places and striking up conversations with artists of bygone centuries. Handwritten texts underneath the images allow a glimpse into his character’s internal monologues, at once providing a key and prompting new questions. Alongside each other, Van de Velde’s vivid drawings appear as fragmented memories of a life he never lived.
In a seamless transition from painting to sculpture, the significance of storytelling also finds resonance in Van de Velde’s ceramic ashtrays. Mirroring his paintings, the ashtrays are miniature renditions of scenes in artist studios and en plein air. On a life-size scale, Mask (2019), a prop used for one of the artist’s films, continues the narrative arc and endows the work with an emotional quality only film can evoke.
Rinus Van de Velde (b. 1983) lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. Solo exhibitions of the artist’s work have been held in international institutions including Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (2023); BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (2022); Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne; and FRAC des Pays de la Loire (2021); KWM artcentre, Beijing; and Bærum Kulturhus, Sandvika (2019); Kunstpalais Erlangen (2018); Nest, The Hague (2017); Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague (2016); S.M.A.K, Ghent (2015, 2008); Kunsthalle São Paulo (2015); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Malaga (2013); Stedelijk Museum Schiedam (2012); Institut für zeitgenössische Kunst, Nürnberg (2010); Be Part, Waregem (2009); and Lokaal 001, Antwerp (2008) amongst many others.
Van de Velde’s works are in the collections of A.Z. Artgestion Collection, Bilbao; Belfius Art Collection, Brussels; CAC Malaga; Colección SOLO, Madrid; Erasmus University Rotterdam; Ghisla Art Collection, Locarno; FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Nantes; Karel De Grote Hogeschool, Antwerp; Kunsthalle São Paulo; Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague; KPN Art Collection; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne; KWM artcenter, Beijing; M HKA, Antwerp; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; S.M.A.K., Ghent and the Stad Antwerpen.