Adieu IV

  • 1974
  • Ger van Elk
  • acrylic on colour photograph
  • 120 x 91 x 4,9 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1976
  • Inventory number 734

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'Adieu IV' by the Dutch artist Ger van Elk shows a painting on an easel almost hidden behind two semi-drawn curtains. The representation on the painting, a landscape, is barely visible because it is shown from an angle which gives a better view of the side that the front. The starting point for Adieu IV was a photograph which was partly painted over by Van Elk and then photographed again and painted again. The form of the work differs from what is customary for a photograph or painting: it is not a rectangle, but a perspective distortion of a rectangle and the broad black frame emphasizes the curious shape.

In 'Adieu IV' Van Elk abandoned the traditional painting on an easel and landscape painting and used the medium of photography, which is much more real than a painted image. Nevertheless, he did not exclude painting altogether; the curtains are slightly open and the space between, next to and above the curtains is painted. Van Elk emphasized the idea that a painting is a thing, as well as the medium for an image of an illusion, by showing the painting on the easel, above all, from the side. Furthermore, the curious shape and the black frame of 'Adieu IV' give this work the status of an object, while he was at the same time playing with the distorted perspective. 'Adieu IV' comes from a series of five related works. The titles are often important for Van Elk, and in this respect he said: “A farewell is a removal which also takes place in perspective.” Therefore the title is related to both the representation and the form.

For the execution of his ideas, Van Elk made use of different materials and techniques. He made films, photographs, sometimes painted, sometimes not, and objects or combinations of these. He always had a plan described in detail as a starting point. Because of this he was seen as a conceptual artist. However, for him the execution of his plans is not subordinate, predictable or arbitrary as it is for many other conceptual artists. For Van Elk, the image must be visually interesting. He tried to unite all sorts of contradictions in his work, the banal with the sublime, reality and fiction, traditional genres and themes from the history of art and contemporary media. His work focused mainly on manipulating reality, playing with different layers of reality.

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