A Gesamtkunstwerk collaborative project.
Jelle van den Berg is interested in how outsider cultures teach us to think completely differently. Double Dutch is a homage to artist Colin McCahon and the first major survey in the Western hemisphere of his work. The exhibition, Colin McCahon – A Question of Faith, was organised by Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum in late 2002. Despite the best efforts of its organisers, no partners in Europe or North America could be secured, so the show travelled only to galleries in Australia and New Zealand.
However much McCahon transformed writing into painting — 'I will need words' — to communicate directly to a provincial public, this legacy remains ‘Double Dutch’ to cultural mandarins. Although part of a two-way flow, cultural communication of much of the Dutch avant-garde tradition is baffling to us.
|Joop Buis, Impresario (detail) 2005, oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm
Gesamtkunstwerk promotes a kind of collaborative, collective behaviour and old-fashioned dialogue and critical engagement. Its artist/curator initiator Jelle van den Berg says 'It can be hard to see the outcome of working collaboratively when you are looking for a linear process where products are defined by individual expectations, but the process is mostly rewarding in the long term'. Over the past two years, using the Gesamtkunstwerk shopfront in Glebe, van den Berg has shown works in tandem with Juan de Pourg, Rudi Vos, Simon Blau and Robyn Backen and Jackie Redgate.
Vos worked as a freelance curator in The Netherlands from 1972 and has regularly contributed to exhibitions in Australia since 1998. Vos has been involved in artist collectives in Sydney and Wollongong. Vos’s paintings, representing the effects of sunlight on irregular surfaces, sometimes have been carelessly associated with concrete art.
Buis worked as a performance artist in the early eighties. He was an apprentice to Herman Lamers in a collective of eight artists in Groningen, The Netherlands, called DE LUI. Here he learned about site-specific installation art and sound-based performance art. Buis trained as a painter and has continued his drawings since his studies at Minerva Academy, Groningen 1975–1980.
Juan Den Pourg
Den Pourg was a student of Martin Tissing and Matthijs Rohling. He settled in Sydney in 1983. He showed his paintings with Rex Irwin, Union Street Gallery, Mori Gallery and Stella Downer Fine Art. He has completed a series of collaborations with Simon Blau, Jacky Redgate and Robyn Backen. He is a staunch ‘romantic painter’.
Jelle van den Berg
In 1983 van den Berg moved to Sydney and continued to be involved with artists' initiatives; he was a co-director of Union Street Gallery from 1985 to 1986 with Debra Dawes, Jeff Gibson and Deborah Singleton. He has worked collaboratively with Jacky Redgate and Simon Blau over several years. He has been working on two things since coming to Australia in 1983: a body of work titled Nature Morte and a series titled Pacific. He showed his paintings at Galerie D'Eendt in Amsterdam and currently shows with Galerie Hoogenbosch in The Netherlands. In Sydney his paintings are shown at The Cross Art Projects. He works in the Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong as a painting lecturer.