Monday, July 06, 2009

Berend Strik - Thixotropy







13 Jun 2009 - 18 Jul 2009

Berend Strik appropriates images, ranging from photographs he has made himself or found in family albums to
pages torn from magazines. He adds delicate pieces of material and embroidery to the existing image as part of
his search for meaning. While the original images are characterised by a certain lack, an indefinite quality, the
photographs that have been elaborated in this way are perfected. A context is created and the fruits of the
imagination are made tangible.
Among the images that Strik has used for his solo exhibition Thixotropy in Galerie Fons Welters are photographs
he took during a journey to East Jerusalem and the West Bank of the river Jordan, where he visited a number of
Palestinian and Jewish settlements. The resulting works display everyday images with a subtle subtext of
tensions.
Palestinian House, for instance, shows a close-up of a house. Several elements attract our attention. Pieces of
tulle, in light but vivid colours, cover the branches of the tree in front of the terrace. They look like sheets hung
out to dry.
Tools, a few stray garden chairs, and plastic crates are strewn about at random. Yet the house behind that
spontaneous collection appears to have a clearly defined structure. Although this is a ‘Palestinian House’, its core
structure is based on Israeli examples. Starting from this central design, it has gradually been altered in response
to requirements and new additions to the family, taking on a new, spontaneous form. There is an additional
storey, for instance, and a flight of steps that has been installed outside the house to save space. But the use of
material and embroidery fuse the structural and non-structural elements of the building. Architecture provides
subtle intimations of a situation in which contrasts abound.
The time-consuming and labour-intensive images of Berend Strik call for attentive reading. The original
photograph evokes certain associations, which the additions build on. An intermediate space arises between the
support and the elaborations, in which the photograph’s initial meaning is opened up and given a more specific
content with extra layers of material and embroidery. This manipulates the formal side of the image. In the
intervening space, there is room for associations and memories. Strik’s works constitute a meditation on what a
specific image signifies and could signify.

During the opening of the exhibition a new catalogue on Berend Strik's work will be presented: Thixotropy:
Transfixed, Stitched Photographs. Published by Valiz with Galerie Fons Welters; Stephan Simoens
Contemporary Fine Art, supported by Fonds BKVB

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