Woody van Amen: New Realism
GRIMM is proud to present nine assemblages and paintings by renowned Dutch artist Woody van Amen (1936), opening Friday 25 June at our Van Baerlestraat location in Amsterdam. The opening of the exhibition coincides with Amsterdam Art Week.
Van Amen's long career has seen his oeuvre span a wide variety of practices ranging from painting to sculpture, kinetic art, zero and arte povera, to organizing happenings and performances. He was one of the very first artists to incorporate Perspex, neon and plastics into his work. What has remained a key component in all his works is the use of everyday elements, which he elevates to become symbols. Van Amen works with ready-mades - using material itself as a means, other than the depicted material used - and thereby making it more real and tangible.
Van Amen also employs a specific set of invented and self-referential symbols, constructed to carry both a philosophical and mathematical meaning, such as the patented symbol TAXAT. Or his signature self-symbol based on the Matterhorn mountain range.
In the exhibition three groups of three works are shown. The earliest date from 1963 and are classis 'new realism' works closely associated to early Pop-Art. Phillips (1963-1974), Stuyvesant (1963) and Esso (1963) all employ the company logo's the titles are based on. Phillips was adjusted to incorporate an ironing board in 1974 and early Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns influences can be seen in these early works. These works were part of his early career retrospective in 1977 at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam (NL), which included work from 1963-1977.
The next three works show how Van Amen developed beyond Pop-Art and consist of a group of paintings incorporating neon and led lights. The TAXAT symbols appears omnipresent in these works. The neon used to set apart the painted surface such as in Constellation with Southern Cross (1999-2000), where the TAXAT symbols is shown to align with the Southern Cross constellation. These works show a new romanticism and influences from Van Amen's many travels abroad. A key work from the exhibition is Starry night at Koh Phangan from 1997- 1998, which depicts the earths cycle and the island's shape outlined in neon at night.
Lastly the exhibition includes three recent modestly scaled paintings, featuring the double cross motif, the TAXAT palindrome and all other key elements from his storied and rich oeuvre.