Saturday, August 26, 2006

Vittorio Roerade

08/07/2006 t/m 08/10/2006

In his first museum solo at the GEM, Hague artist Vittorio Roerade (b. The Hague, 1962) presents work produced over the last six years. In his paintings, Roerade uses unorthodox techniques and materials to fairytale figurative effect. He combines beeswax with photo-collages, pours on epoxy resin, perforates his works and decorates his pictures with hair and embroidery. The main themes of his strange and moving matter paintings are the fragility of human life and the interconnection of everything on earth.

Even though his work is based on sketchbooks full of countless meticulous drawings, Vittorio Roerade has always worked first and foremost as a painter. Into his oil paintings and watercolours he quickly introduced elements of photo-collage. His choice of subject has remained unchanged: man, human relationships and the connection between the individual and the wider world. Portraits play a major role in his oeuvre, both as a mirror of the world and as the bearer of psychological meaning. In a number of striking early series, Roerade obtains a variety of effects through repetition of parts of the human body, such as noses, eyes, hands and feet. The elements often become enigmatic and turn into an abstract pattern, but such repetition can also transform a double portrait into an image of a single fused human being. In some of Roerade’s portraits, however, the nose or mouth is actually missing, making the depiction seem both concentrated and otherworldly. The exhibition at the GEM begins with the ‘wax portraits’ that Roerade was making in 1997-2001: thick layers of beeswax smeared on around the eyes or mouth make it look as if the facial features are having to work their way out through the skin. Later he uses epoxy resin to achieve a still more layered and transparent effect. The brushstroke disappears, making the image still more anonymous. The forms dissolve into the resin and lose their solid outlines. Faces are simplified down to a circular shape adorned with three dots: two eyes and a mouth. Subsequently, Roerade starts to add elements, such as songbirds, which soften the severity of the pared-down image and open it up again. The faces are also more freely represented and start to look like animals or teddy bears.
Roerade’s recent work also reflects another fascination: with structures. Where this was expressed in his early work by means, for example, of a close-up of a hand, revealing the network of fine lines in the skin, patterns of branches and spider webs now occur as independent motifs. Roerade’s interest is unlikely to be purely formal in nature; his concern is with a network of relationships between individuals and with a fundamental structure ultimately underlying the entire material world: the universe in a playful and poetic form. He introduces texts, taken from pop songs, on the subject of love or the beauty of life. These texts, constructed of little holes bored into the smooth epoxy resin, likewise form an abstract pattern, overlying the image like a starry sky. In his most recent paintings, he takes the integration of the individual and the network even further, while at the same time allowing the image ever more freedom

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