Vijf maximes: Bar

  • 1986
  • Niek Kemps
  • varnish on photograph on wood
  • 86 x 120 x 58 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1997
  • Inventory number 2328

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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'Five maxime: Bar' by Niek Kemps is a wooden object with photographs printed on it. The whole thing has been varnished with a shiny varnish. It consists of a narrow central section which is attached to the wall and two side sections folding into the space in the same direction. The top and bottom of the parts are at an angle and look as if they have been twisted. The outer sections can be seen from both sides. 'Five maxims: Bar' is part of the 'Five maxims'. Kemps made this installation consisting of five wall objects in 1986 for the stairwell and nursery of a house in Ghent, in the context of the exhibition 'Chambres d’Amis'. After this, the wall objects were sent to different places. The Van Abbemuseum has two: 'Five maxims: Bar' and 'Five maxims: Refreshments on the ground floor'.

Kemps’ works can never be seen from a single perspective. He usually works with transparent and reflecting materials, often in several layers one over the other. Sometimes they are covered with photographic images, resulting in complex pictures. It is not only the object and possibly the illustrations on these that are the subject of perception, but the space where the work is located and the visitors who are present there are also included in the work by means of reflections or peep-through views. The photographs which Kemps printed on the 'Five maxims' were taken in the place where the objects were to be attached, so that for the viewer there could be interaction between the actual space, its reflection in the shiny surface of the object and the photographic record of the same space on the object.

The complexity of Kemps’ work has a disorienting effect. The viewer is constantly forced to revise his position, both literally and metaphorically. Kemps saw this as a characteristic of our current world. In the past, there was a general world view, formulated on the basis of the prevailing religion or philosophy, but nowadays there is a whole range of knowledge and information, as well as possible points of view based on these. The individual can choose a position in this but cannot avoid the possible alternatives. Niek Kemps translates these ideas into an image.

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