René Daniëls (Eindhoven, 1950) is probably the most widely appreciated Dutch artist of his generation. His new show at the Van Abbemuseum, An Exhibition is Always Part of a Greater Whole, casts new light on his versatile oeuvre – one that still exerts a profound influence on younger artists.
The exhibition opens on Saturday 12th May at 3 pm with an introduction by Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, where a similar exhibition attracted almost 95.000 visitors from October 2011 to March 2012.
The presentation offers an extensive selection of paintings, drawings, and gouaches from 1976-1987. 1987 was the year when Daniëls had a cerebral haemorrhage that made it impossible for him for a long time to continue his work. In 2006, after twenty years with virtually no artistic activity, Daniëls started painting again, this time with smaller works, mainly using felt tip and spray paints. At first sight the works seem far removed from the virtuosity of his paintings from the mid-1980s, but they can also be seen as a return to the more direct style of his earlier paintings. The form has changed, partly because the artist now struggles with physical limitations and has to work with his left hand, which means he had to develop new imagery to express himself. The influences in the work come more from his direct environment – the living room, television, books and magazines – but the works continue to be enigmatic and multi-layered.
Additionally, Daniëls will make a wall drawing specifically for the Van Abbemuseum. A unique part of the exhibition will be a first opportunity to see a vast number of sketches and notes from his artistic archive - fragments and visual thoughts that provide insight into the genesis of his work.
René Daniëls and the alternative music scene
In the centre of the show, you will find photos, posters, Super 8-films and sound elements in a presentation entitled Eindhoven niet Eindhoven. René Daniëls, Art and Counterculture. This sets his early work in the context of the underground culture of the 1970s and 1980s when punk, new wave and no wave music were a source of inspiration for him.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication entitled The Words Are Not in Their Proper Place, that provides a unique retrospective of the multifaceted nature of the work of Daniëls, against the backdrop of the art scene and underground culture of the 1970s and 1980s. This richly illustrated book presents a chronological retrospective of his paintings, watercolours, drawings, sketches, as well as his personal history, supplemented by three unique interviews from 1983, and essays written especially for this publication that cast new light on his work. This publication is also available in our webshop.
The first magazine in the series Betrayal Takes Two, entitled EHV-NY, will be available at the same time as the presentation Eindhoven niet Eindhoven – René Daniëls, Art and Counterculture. This magazine, composed by René Daniëls and others, shows the special relationship between Eindhoven and New York in the seventies and eighties. At that time, these cities were of great importance for the development of the work and career of René Daniëls.
EHV-NY provides an overview of the work (photographs, drawings, sketches, notes and stills from Super 8-movies) that René Daniëls made in relation to New York.
With photographs and short texts by Carlos van Hijfte and Ton van Gool and Truus de Groot (Nasmak, Plus Instruments). The extensive preface is written by Remko Scha, sound artist and at the time co-director of the Apollo House.
The magazine consists of 84 pages, € 15.00, and is available in the Museumshop.
Betrayal Takes Two is an initiative by Ton van Gool and Carlos van Hijfte and is published by See/hear. Distribution by Sea Urchin Editions, Rotterdam.
Film maker Jan Thijssen has made a far-ranging documentary about the live and work of Daniëls, entitled Memoires van een vergeetal (Memoirs of a forgetful person) to coincide with the exhibition. Jan Thijssen followed René Daniëls closely; he filmed him in Eindhoven, took him to places of his past (New York, Paris, Ghent), shows the current struggle of Daniëls with his disability and combined this with pictures of Daniëls in his younger years. The result is a penetrating portrait of a great artist who, after his haemorrhage and rehabilitation has found his own way to share his thoughts and images. The documentary will be shown on Dutch television on 8th May, Nederland 2, Het Uur van de Wolf. View the trailer.
The exhibition is organised in cooperation with Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.