1st Biennale Larnaca


The 1st Biennale Larnaca will take place from
the 17th of October until the 30th of November 2018
Mooring_and_Grounding_point a large 2 x 2 meter paintings will travel to Cyprus this autumn.

Biennale Larnaca 2018 concept : Container and Content.

The theme for the Biennale is “Container-Content”. I am very intrigued by the dynamics between these two roles, particularly their capacity to coexist in a dependence relation and at the same time alternate within an eternal vicious circle. It is a situation that pertains directly to the problem of defining space, and is therefore relevant at a time when spatial boundaries are being called into question as never before. At first thought, the content is always dependent on the container, without which it would be virtually impossible for it to exist. Still, very soon one realizes that as the content needs the container, so too the container needs the content just as much: without it, it would be empty, therefore useless. The apparently one-way relation becomes reciprocal. Man himself is a vessel replete with imagination, thoughts, memories, connotations and feelings. Without the “human” vessel, none of these would have been able to exist. And yet, a man deprived of the properties that make up his content would by extension be an empty man; so much so, that the characterization “human” would be called into question. Which one is worse? To not exist or to have no reason to exist? This is the tormenting and as yet unanswered question of a reciprocal relation that reads the same backwards as forwards like a palindrome. But the paradox does not end here. By changing the spatial scale, container and content alternate roles. The drinking glass considers itself a container for water but it forgets that at the same time it too is the content of a larger container, namely the room. Water considers itself merely the content of the glass whilst ignoring that on a smaller scale it too is a container for all the elements and ingredients included in its chemical composition. In other words, as space grows bigger, new and larger vessels are being created; and the deeper we immerse ourselves into the microcosm of space the more contents we discover. An apt analogy would be the Matryoshka, the Russian nesting doll, where each separate doll serves as content for the larger and as container for the smaller one. Man’s defining phases, Birth, Eros and Death, go through this specific binary. Childbirth corresponds to a container-content relation, just like the subsequent relation between mother and child. Death, especially burial, behaves in exactly the same way. There is no burial ritual across any civilization through time that escapes the container-content relation. Body and soul; the casket; and, eventually, the tragic cavity of the grave. Between them, Eros. Two individuals holding each other in embrace alternate between the roles of container and content. So what is the world’s driving force other than one’s need to constantly become filled with the other? There’s a poem by M. Ganas from the collection “The small ones” that keeps coming back to my mind – perhaps because I haven’t been able to find a more succinct and beautiful way to describe the amorous relation between container and content:

You are sleepless sea on the globe of my palm. You breathe and fill me up.

Translated from the Greek by Despina Pirketti





When I was seventeen, I was given a big cardboard box with unexposed photo rolls. Thirty glossy little boxes, yellow, gold and black,  emanating a distinctive dull sour smell of vinegar. Thirty-five millimeter, black and white acetate film, the sell by date just expired. These photographic rolls of film had a purpose, a key element of a master plan.

Black mushroom clouds soar gently upwards, dispersing tufts of dark cloud.             I am looking at black ink spreading in water.

The setup of micro experiment is simple, you need a jug of cold water and ink. Gently release a drop of cool black ink under the surface of the water with a pipette and watch how the ink unfolds in gentle swirls towards the bottom of the glass.  It is like a plume of smoke floating through the air. 

Later on, in my experimentation, when I had improvised a little photo studio with a desk lamp, I found a method of getting the ink to settle at the bottom of the glass and I would warm a small area of the glass with a lighter. The ink heated, and suddenly in what looked like a micro nuclear explosion the black liquid would billow out in a magnificent big swirling mushroom cloud. Through the lens of a reflex camera, I observed how the inky clouds slowly climbed up and stretched out in magical forms and shapes. For about two weeks, each day after school, I set up my modest laboratory photo studio and caught those spectacular mushrooms and dramatic swirling eddies on the photo film. 

An experienced photographer would have told me that the dull smell of vinegar was a sign of acetate film base degradation, and that the film had more than passed its use by date. Till this day I am fascinated by the majestic movement of the flow of fluids. And I am inspired by the motion of steam being expelled from vents in large puffs or by the clouds appearing and receding over the skyline. Videos, computer simulations, drawing, graphics, photography, 3D models and paintings are ways for me to observe the impressive world of the flow of fluids.


What’s Right About The Wrong Biennale?

Pyeongchang Biennale 2017

The Nameless and Unknown.


It is dark outside the room and I use all my energy to come out of a deep sleep. A small cup of coffee waits for me on the table and I’m sitting on the couch forcing my mind to stay in focus. A school teacher comes to me and says “it’s all lost”. She no longer had control over the class.
That was a dream. An hour ago I was on Gyeongpo beach, South Korea that is for real.

Snow on Gyeongpo beach

Snow on Gyeongpo beach

Gyeongpo beach, it is the farthest east I have ever been. I stood on a cold sunlit beach covered in a layer of thin snow. The East sea waves crashed on the sand. At home in The Hague, we would stand on the beach and imagine our homemade kites flying east to Felixstowe. Here they would fly straight Niagara, Japan.

Pyeongchang Biennale 2017 catalogue

Hot from the press, the catalogue Pyeongchang Biennale 2017

At the preparations for the Pyeongchang Biennale 2017,  my three paintings are up on display (I did it, job done) and I had time to loiter around and talk to the other artists. I spoke with Kiyoko SAKATA, Japan and Ori ELISAR, Israel and we talked about sea salt crystals through an electronic translator and a pencil and paper. Early in the morning, I met up with Micah GENSKE, USA and talked about his painting depicting large shadows on areal views. With Justyna ADAMCZYK , Poland, we talked about the status and social position of the artist in Poland. I talked to CHUANG Chih-Wei, Taiwan about my work and showed him the embroidered threads on the back of the painting. With CHEN Sai Hua Kuan, Singapore, we talked about the making of physical objects. Several times that day I went to have a look at Junya KATAOKA & Rie IWATAKE, Japan, as they set up their installation.

Junya KATAOKA & Rie IWATAKE, Japan, as they set up their installation

Junya KATAOKA & Rie IWATAKE, Japan, as they set up their installation

They show me the inside details of their work. Also Nils VOLKER, Germany takes me behind the scene of his kinetic artwork. With Thibault LAGET-RO, France, I talked about the fate of children in the French education system and with JAK, Korea / Germany, about the artists and studio spaces in Germany.

Pyeongchang Biennale 2017

Pyeongchang Biennale 2017

In the evening I walked through the exhibition with  the artistic director Seong-Youn Kim. It is a fantastic collection of works. He tells me he chose for the open call and that during the selection procedure he asked to omit the CVs of the artists, but wanted to judge on the images and artist’s statements alone. I gather that he made some people nervous, but they agreed that the results are outstanding. The exhibition is called  The Five Moons : Return of the Nameless and Unknown.


The Five Moons, Return of the Nameless and Unknown

An inspirational title for the PyeongChang Biennale 2017, South Korea. I am on my this very moment to  be part of the opening venue with 3 of my paintings. The paintings have already arrived ahead of time.  Now it is my turn to face the unknown.
The Five Moons: Return of the Nameless and Unknown.

The Five Moons: Return of the Nameless and Unknown.

Check list February 1st–2nd
Final check before the opening
Photograph shooting of the whole views of the final installation
Test operation of the exhibition
Press Opening

Exhibition Date: February 3, 2017 – February 26, 2017

Venue: Gangneung Green City Experience Center (E-Zen), Gangneung, South Korea

A year ahead of the highly anticipated PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year, the PyeongChang Biennale and Gangneung Folk Art Festival 2017 are ready to heat up Olympic venues with cultural enrichment.
By Kwon Mee-yoo koreatimes.co.kr

Berlin 1989

exhibitions, writing

1 January 1990, Berlin

Somewhere near Hanover, I stood at a petrol-station, hitch-hiking, my cardboard sign reading ‘BERLIN’. To be more precise, Sunday the 31 of December 1989 . Strangely, it had been the bright idea of my mother to send me to Berlin for New Year’s eve. She gave me money for the return fair by train, I would hitch a ride from the Netherlands to the city that had captured our imagination when the Iron wall cracked a month earlier.
A family car drove up to the station, stopped, the doors opened. A woman behind the steering wheel, a basket with drinking cups, sandwiches, towels spread out on the passenger seat next to her, a man holding a baby swaddled in a blanket sat in the back seat. They hastily filled up the petrol tank, paid and reorganised themselves in a calculated nervous manner ensuring their baby would not be disturbed. The woman called to me, ‘do you have a driving license?’.
Before I could even show my license, she asked if I could drive them to Berlin.

1 January 1990, Berlin, life as normal

My small bag containing a sleeping bag, my 35mm camera, a water proof liner and dried fruits were put in the boot. We shifted seats, the man came to sit next to me, the woman and baby moved to the back seat to nurse. And I set the car into motion towards Berlin with the young parents and their baby. At checkpoint Alpha, the Helmstedt-Marienborn station some 170km from Berlin I gave our passports to the guards for inspection and then drove the last hours on the corridor like autobahn, the grey DDR on either side. At each bridge that we passed under we were greeted by waving children and adults in the fading light. The woman remarked, ‘a few months ago they would be taken to jail for waving at us.’ We followed the road to Berlin that had changed its way.
Close to the Großer Tiergarten of Berlin I stopped the car, I thanked my family for the lift and they thanked me for the drive, ending a most remarkable exchange of trust.


Willkommen bei der 11. BERLINER LISTE


Come and meet us at the BERLINER Liste from September 18th to 21st | Postbahnhof Berlin.
I will be presenting my art works together with Sofia Kapnissi (through the Gaidaro foundation).

If you needed an excuse to invigorate yourself, then come and find us in an adventurous art city trip.
The Berliner Liste will have 112 exhibitors from 24 countries and you will mingle with 10000 visitors, so there is plenty to see.

The opening is Official Opening, Sep 17th, 2014


Summarizing the events in Harare

exhibitions, writing, Zimbabwe


solar The airport  being the obvious place where airplanes land and take off, is also an important physical location where some serious thinking is done. It marks a moment when I project my self into the future, and on a returning journey I spend time reliving and summarizing the events during my travels. This time after my exhibition in Harare with rotating objects and drawings I tried to question myself with 6 key evaluation questions such as:
”What art processes were planned and what was actually put in place for the project?….”, but found the answers something short sighted and for the economist. So I page through notes and recall conversations.
The most remarkable moment of the exhibition would have to be that the audience  interacted with the artwork by means of a torch, light, solar panels and an electrical motor turning the objects. During the opening for example, people took their time to go from object to object and examine the reaction that the light had on the artworks. In fact what they were doing was examining the effects that the light had on the surface of the object, and this is precisely how I question and observe the small art works.  How does the light reflect, what texture does it reveal, what shadows does it cast, what tonal difference in the shadows tell me that the object is three dimensional and finally if I turn the beam of light to an other angle what happens to the image and why? This information I use as an artist to make painting or more sketches. But to come back to the opening, I felt that the audience was captivated, they talked about the objects, the mechanism, the show.

‘So what comes first, the object or the drawing, or the painting?’, guests would ask.
None, I would answer. The exhibition shows the precise evolving process of an artist. The origins of the idea is so far and faint in the past that they no longer have any influence to the present physical form, be it the drawings, paintings or objects. By observing, unfolding and questioning these three forms,  I answer with new artworks, that in turn will be observed and questioned again forming a continuous evolving spiral. [action reaction]

‘What are they? What does it symbolize?’ Each person will see what it is, what it symbolizes and how much power it has. Option, a sculptor tells me how ”the bull” triggered his youth memories. One of the objects, a small bull (approximately 2cm high)  made of dark brown earthenware clay, glued on the inclination of a triangular piece of wood, spins in the light. ‘When I was living in the rural area,’ Option tells me with excitement, ‘with my parents and grandparents on a small farm, we had a big black bull. It was a kind of crazy bull and on some occasions the bull would escape from its pen.  We would always find the beast on top of a hill, feet locked like a mountain goat on the steep rocks and head pointing proudly up, nostrils flared and grunting at the far horizon.’  Later Option wrote in my guest book ”I like that BULL!!”

The airplane took me from Harare to Lusaka and in the early hours of the morning we landed in Dubai international airport where I would catch my connecting flight to Amsterdam. Having some time on my hands, a twenty dollar bill and a wish for a cup of coffee I set off to find one of the coffee chains. When the lady at the counter saw the dollar bill, she immediately said  she could not take it, ”It’s too old”.
‘Yeah but’, I protested, ‘I’ve been using dollar bills like this for weeks, dollars can’t get old; it’s money.’
The next place told me my money was too dirty, and they would also not accept it. This encounter put a whole new spin on money laundering. However this left me without a coffee, a worthless 20 dollar bill and I felt like a sitting duck, a target for unscrupulous bank CEOs. It made me link the arts and money, how some art was worth money and other art works as worthless as my dirty money. And yet for the artist, each art piece that is expressed in physical form is a step in the artist’s personal development and so his culture. At the next coffee place I ordered an expensive cappuccino from Harkaman hiding my old and dirty money until Florence proceeded to whizz the machines. Ha! My money was no longer old nor soiled, because Harkaman saw the agreement between himself, the cappuccino and me. [Back in the game].

Bringing art works to Zimbabwe for an exhibition  is an exceptional process. Not so much the logistics which consists of making the art works look worthless in a messy suitcase, and thus avoid having to pay import taxes. But an exceptional reversal process as art flows out of the country not in. I have had three solo exhibitions in Harare starting in 1994, 2012 and now 2014 and each time I bring something, it surprises to the brink of ungraspable. Not because the work is indecipherable, rather there are hardly any international exhibitions let alone African art exchanges. In fact there is not much of an contemporary art interest or market amongst the local population, the players are few and the road to any form of success (economical or spiritual) is to Europe or North America. This causes a general unease in the arts, besides the education system is not strong enough to educate about contemporary African art. As the local artists tell me all the ‘important’ art has been sold over eagerly to collectors outside of Africa and what cultural documentation remains is hardly contemporary and is written by former colonists three decades ago. Needless to say there is great awareness amongst artists to educate their fellow man, they know, road is long.

moon northern hemisphere

moon southern hemisphere

In Zimbabwe the moon is upside down. After a few days in Harare you change your point of view, and some time later you see it like all people living in Zimbabwe, bright and surrounded by dozens of nebulae and other star clusters. The way I observed the art and the maker also changes with time. I have noticed that art is made in a different way. One way that European artists may start making their art work is from the art supplies and tools at hand (canvas, paint and brushes). In Zimbabwe I found that the artists starts from a different point. There is hardly any art material to work with.  Creative survivalist know the challenge ”How to open a can without a can opener”. Creative kids know what to do when there is no TV and they have gnawed through their boredom. So the starting point of the artist is from nothing, and that makes the work so very challenging. It is almost like a training, a school of thought, a style like minimalism, but then the ”starting from nothing” style. The Zimbabwean artist starts painting with nothing, then finds household paint, continues to paints mixing colours with offset printers ink, or starts with yellow and finding other colours in the form of plastic bottle tops, sweet wrappers or broken shoes. Or consider this simplification; an artist drawing a silhouette of a rabbit, in Africa they may draw the abstract forms from the space around the rabbit (from nothing), and not from the ears or eyes or fur. When I look at their work the opposite happens, I first see the bottle tops, the electronic print plates, the bicycle pedal and then as if by magic, I see the creation.

analyzing the inside shapes, or look at the outside shapes

analyzing the inside shapes, or look at the outside shapes

During last  three days in Harare I freed myself up from the exhibition to spend some time in the botanical gardens and to explore the clouds using a video camera. The clouds form low and rapid in the skies after eleven o’clock in the morning. By leaving the camera on the ground and pointing up towards the sky I recording five minutes at the time. Playing the video fast forward made me realize that the rolling motion of the clouds was similar to the the rotating objects. It is something I want to work with.

But what impact did your art work have?
In 1999 I left the USA after doing a collection of paintings on shadows of basket ballplayers and hotel paintings in Mexico. I thought they had little impact on any one but my self, but I was wrong, Kelsay Myers wrote in 2013:
“But this one looks like spirits,” I said, and it did. What I didn’t say was that the spirits made me want to write. Their shapes and colors haunted me. The sky captured my imagination.”


A N    E M P H A S I S   O N   R E A L I T Y


next: 3rd Ruhr Biennial – Townshipwise different 2015 http://ruhrbiennale.de/

opening evening photos

exhibitions, Zimbabwe

opening First Floor Galley:
Pictures by Kumbulani Zamuchiya

opening first floor gallery

discussing how the light interacts with the surface of the object

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

Interacting with the object using the solar panels to power the rotation of the object.

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

relating to the art works.

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

Observing the objects turn with the power of solar energy

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

K_Van, Valerie Kabov, Marcus Gora and guests

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

During the day the object turn gently, powered by solar enegry

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

Babies, family and friends join the exhibition.

photo: Kumbulani Zamuchiya

Discussion, how the objects might work in Scandinavian. They would turn, then stop in a random position for the winter.

prototype feb 2013

Opening this afternoon in Harare

exhibitions, writing

at the First Floor Gallery 17:30rotating object

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