A Moveable Feast is a duo exhibition featuring the works of Steven Cox and Bas van den Hurk. The exhibition takes the form of an immersive environment where both artists’ paintings and sculptures are displayed on top of a site-specific collaborative floor piece. A Moveable Feast aims to blur the boundaries between presence and absence, past and present and fundamentally each other’s work. A Moveable Feast questions the conventions of presentation and the dichotomy between autonomy and heteronomy.
The exhibition title A Moveable Feast comes from the memoires by the same title that the American author Ernest Hemingway wrote during his stay as an expatriate in Paris during the 1920’s. The book describes Hemingway’s days as a young writer and consists of personal reports, observations and stories.
For Steven Cox and Bas van den Hurk A Moveable Feast has a double connotation that on the one hand refers literally to the materialistic banquet that they as painters regularly absorb themselves in, benefiting from and exploring the flux of liquid materials and the connected natural aging process it goes through afterwards. But in a metaphorical sense, A Moveable Feast also refers to the multiple ways one responds to their own place within time and space. Like Heraclitus once famously said ‘You can’t step in the same river twice’ – a phrase that was often referred to by early minimalists such as Robert Morris and Fred Sandback, pointing at the idea that you can always view a work of art in a different way.
The site specific collaborative work by Cox and Van den Hurk made upon the gallery floor could in this way be interpreted as a stream of materialized thoughts where objects are floating for a period of time that can be viewed and contemplated in ever changing ways. All the works in A Moveable Feast relate for Cox and Van den Hurk to these ambiguous ideas of being both present and absent or between one having them or not. Viewers can become mutual witnesses to the work, negotiating the meaning of it, without ever totally ‘having’ it. This reflects for them important issues of the contemporary: How can we live together? How do we negotiate that? How do we collectively create our environment? How much are we part of networks? These questions are regularly negotiated over and over again in an ongoing dynamic process of making and exhibiting.
Steven Cox’s new paintings take inspiration from regular explorations of city environments with his works acting as a response to texturally rich surfaces found during his travels. Within A Moveable Feast, Cox will be exhibiting a series of new transfer paintings created during his 4-month summer residency in Netherlands. A poetic recycling of colour and texture occurs within Cox’s practice where he investigates the formal properties associated within painting by connecting his work to the texturally rich surfaces and vandalized walls found within city environments. By formally deconstructing these dense surfaces, he embarks on a journey where the discovered colours, textures, shapes and layers find their way into his studio and onto the surfaces of his canvas. There is no doubt that he is subverting traditional methods of paint application by favoring alternative brushless processes. By keeping a distance from conventional painting tools his works relate more to the city environment by echoing found autonomous structures that are naturally formed through the gradual layering and de-layering of dirt, graffiti and advertising materials. His new transfer paintings contain multiple layers of spray paint and oil paint, both materials being applied over-and-over through a brushless transfer process. His brushless painting process simultaneously refers to the removal of the artist’s hand, giving dominance to the process that allows an element of control and chance to compose unexpected results. Within A Moveable Feast, Cox’s new transfer paintings will be exhibited alongside a series of new floor based mixed media sculptures. These sculptural works are a new addition to his practice, with the colours, textures and materials being an extension of his wall mounted paintings. The sculptures are site specific and will be shown through the gallery space as part of both Cox’s and Van den Hurk’s immersive floor piece.
For Bas van den Hurk the most important issue in the works for A Moveable Feast is the oscillating relation between autonomy and heteronomy – how much can works determine their own conditions and how much do they refer to different works and contexts, as well in the exhibition space as more external, for instance to the world outside, or to texts. This basic dichotomy between autonomy and heteronomy is further reflected in his work in recurring issues such as patterns that refer to design versus the grid, thinking through traces versus living with fragments, questioning the canvas versus the canonical in painting. These relations are not fixed, for instance the collaborative work with Steven Cox on the gallery floor becomes a blend of artwork and performative gesture, midway between showing and celebrating that makes you navigate your own way through the space.
Bas van den Hurk’s new paintings are all made on silk and have silk-screened patterns fragmenting an image of Lizica Codreanu wearing the Pierrot-Éclair costume designed by Sonia Delaunay for Rene Le Somptier’s 1926 film, ‘Le P’tit Parigot’. These paintings are what David Joselit addresses as being ‘beside Itself’1, meaning they transitively reveal relations between the intern qualities of a work – what it looks like – to the networks of production and distribution they are part of. In A Moveable Feast painting, sculpture, fashion and the performative aspects of his work aid in the creation an overall environment. For instance the remains of his painting process are contained within plastic bottles, sharing an ambiguous middle ground of being both sculptural and fluid at the same time, of being objects of display that references the production process simultaneously. His clothes on the wall-piece are assemblages of construction and fashion, of human presence and human absence, they appear somewhere in between a presentation in a luxurious shopping store and the abandoned shells of people of a former generation. Furthermore, his works have personal emotional value in the sense that his father was a window dresser and the city he was born and raised in was based on textile industry. In the works he uses the past to create for the future.
Images © Steven Cox. Courtesy Galerie Jérôme Pauchant, Paris & © Bas van den Hurk. Courtesy Galerie Jérôme Pauchant, Paris & Rod Barton, London.
Steven Cox and Bas van den Hurk - A Moveable Feast
Galerie Jérôme Pauchant, January 8 - March 12