Dutch Tweak 

The Netherlands makes a strong showing.

While Rob van der Schoor's paintings have been seen in Memphis for nearly a decade, the artist and Amsterdam gallery owner's latest appearance is as curator of "The Dutch Connection II" at Delta Axis at Marshall Arts. Several of van der Schoor's own paintings are included, continuing in the vein of whimsical tree imagery that has become his latest obsession.

Ad de Jong's New Albanian Sculpture strikes one as a cross between a cartoon ray gun and a colossal fishing lure, the fiberglass components gleaming in Popsicle colors. The handling of the fiberglass material is rather raw and clumsy, and the sculpture is attached to the wall in such a manner that, if one touches it, it shakes and shimmies like a bowl of Jell-O. Golden Stones is similarly constructed of clunky geometric elements but in this case is enclosed within a translucent husk, like some sort of alien egg being hatched. There is something creepy and unsettling about de Jong's fantastical creatures, but enticingly so.

The paintings of Gijs Frieling are just as creepy, if not more so. The artist's images toy with pseudoreligious themes in a style that is both simple and sophisticated. Whereas Frieling's angels, saints, and doomed souls are depicted with the patented cornpone awkwardness of Howard Finster and Co., the artist's deft handling of the luscious egg tempera would suggest this naiveté is a contrivance. The Heart of a Woman I and II portray the same scene from two different angles. The first shows a man in a red checkered shirt reaching into the heart of a woman as if she were an apparition, placing his fingers upon an open text (Bible?) that resides within her. The Heart of a Woman II not only shifts the orientation of the scene but casts it in an ethereal haze, as if viewed from some other dimension. A pair of hands reaching from beyond the margins of the painting like some divine force, directing the man and woman toward one another, drives this interpretation home.

A picture that really blew me away is Grid on Metal by Eric Knoote, in which bands of pink, orange, yellow, and green stripes are painted in vertical and horizontal layers upon sheet metal. The initial stripes appear to have been painted in more pungent hues then practically obliterated by successive layers of neutrals, but the traces that remain really communicate a feeling of depth, heightened by the remaining bare areas of reflective metal peeking from behind the stripes. Another aspect that makes this work delightful is the manner in which the sheet metal has been shaped into a pillow, so that the plaid design softly wraps around the edges of the form. Perhaps more contemplative is Knoote's The 4th Color series, where wide bands of sheet metal pass vertically and horizontally around a stretcher, revealing only the four corners of the canvas, each painted a different color.

While the above pictures find Knoote tipping his hat to the right-angled compositions of Piet Mondrian, his Holes leaves that domain altogether. Using sheet metal once again, the artist has cut out a couple of ellipses and spray painted the lower portion sky-blue. The efficacy of this work is hampered by the fact that the ellipses don't stick well to the wall of Marshall Arts, due to an unstable combination of adhesive and humidity. Even so, the work is not a total loss, as it creates an illusion of space through the interaction of reflective and opaque surfaces.

Jelle Kampen is also interested in the illusion of depth in his Saint of the Last Days, a mural painted directly on the wall. Its form is composed in bifurcated symmetry, resembling a Rorschach blot, except in Kampen's blot, recognizable images reveal themselves as DNA strands, floral motifs, the Christian fish, and pop culture icons like the Volkswagen, Toyota, and Shell Oil logos. A sense of dimensional space is achieved by overlaying two such blots, one on top of the other, the first cast in an atmospheric mist by a layer of whitewash. Kampen's use of symmetry as a design element imbues his work with sacred overtones, the profane iconography notwithstanding. I wondered if there were political commentary present in this work, perhaps a suggestion that consumerism has eclipsed religion.

There is also some fine work by Rudy d' Arnaud Gerkens and Anne van der Pals. "The Dutch Connection II" is an enriching experience that no one should miss.

Through June 6th.



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