Ger van Elk: Bearable Lightness of Being

Installation Views
Press release

GRIMM is proud to announce Bearable Lightness of Being, a tribute to the work and conceptual heritage of Ger van Elk (1941-2014).

Our space at the Keizersgracht showcases several high- lights of Van Elk’s oeuvre in an intimate setting, while at the Frans Halsstraat a group show with works by Adriano Amaral, Daniel G. Baird, Giulia Cenci, Urs Fischer, Mark Handforth, Elizabeth Price, Willem de Rooij and Letha Wilson, will serve as a contemporary reflection on his work.

Ger van Elk is internationally considered to be one of the pioneers of conceptual art. Averse to conventions, Van Elk experimented with many different media and fre- quently collaborated with fellow artists, including William Leavitt, Allen Rupersberg and John Baldessari and Bas Jan Ader among others. In 1969 he participated in the groundbreaking exhibitions When Attitudes Become Form at Kunsthalle Bern and Op Losse Schroeven: Situaties en Cryptostructuren at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; the latter still counts as the introduction of conceptual art in the Netherlands.

Van Elk realized at a young age that “theory was nothing but a construct, a work of artifice”, after his mother remarried and he had to become Catholic instead of Protestant overnight. It proved to be a crucial moment for his art practice, the insight that truth is not truthful and that one theory is always interchangeable with another. In his witty and radical work, Van Elk analyzed the role of the artist, explored the question of authorship and originality and examined the dubious relationship between image, imagination and reality. Ger van Elk tried to disrupt the established art world one artwork at a time.

The idea for this exhibition was born a few years ago when Van Elk was still alive. He loved the idea of exhibit- ing his work alongside younger generations of artists. The concept evolved into the current presentation in two locations. GRIMM will exhibit a selection of historically important work by Van Elk at the Keizersgracht, ranging from sculptures like Rope Sculpture (1968) to Niet Werkelijk Woef (1987) and works in other media such as his famous video Some natural Aspects of Painting and Sculpture from 1970 and paintings from the early 1990s. At the Frans Halsstraat a group show will be presented by various artists who were either influenced by his work, or with whom we can draw our own parallel with Van Elk, be it because of a similar (conceptual) approach or by the use of a medium that he pioneered.