Ronald de Bloeme
Hamish Morrison Galerie is delighted to present their third solo exhibition by the Berlin-based Dutch artist Ronald de Bloeme (*1971) entitled Speisereste Kategorie 3.
In past exhibitions, works by de Bloeme were dominated by austere compositions of advertising-appealing colour-intensity, and smooth, flawless surfaces. With an army of billboard-sized works of equal dimensions de Bloeme - in his last solo show Diktatur (2009) - questioned media strategies and the content of the information found in contemporary visual sign systems, as used in advertising and the packaging industry, reflecting on the absolutism of today's communication processes. Piracy, the title of the previous exhibition in 2008, had already pointed to the process of candidly taking possession of visual resources and re-appropriating them in his paintings.
The ironic title of the current show, Speisereste Kategorie 3 (Leftovers, Category 3), heralds a new development in de Bloeme's work. The large formats are blown up to even bigger dimensions: the painting Liberty measures 2,90m x 5,40m, Salon is 3,20m x 6,30m. Both works are composed as triptychs with three canvases of equal size, majestically presiding over the exhibition. Whilst the formats get larger, at the same time the colour palette is reduced. In the painting Liberty, the rich red on white, superimposed by dark grey signs recalling the signet of a popular brand of cigarettes, point toward a visibly more focused language of colour. The work alludes to the well-known Butterflies by the Dutch artist René Daniëls, whose paintings inspired de Bloeme's innovative shift to more condensed forms.
In the painting Salon, de Bloeme restricts the range of colours to a combination of muted orange, olive-brown and plain white. Here, the repertoire of forms seems exceptionally subtle compared to earlier works (for instance, Fruit Salad I - III 2009, or Waldputz 2008). Subdued colours set the tone of the painting, which is composed of small squares intermittently merging into checked patterns, and horizontal as well as vertical polygons pierced by fine lines. De Bloeme's once loud, demanding artistic voice has transformed itself into a soft, seductive whisper.
For quite some time now, Ronald de Bloeme has been exploring re-working the smooth surfaces of his paintings. Several works (Black Gift 2008, Aqua Kiss 2009) display artificial signs of wear in the high-gloss enamel surfaces in trompe l'oeil. Yet in more recent works they are no longer used as mere signs of wear in actual packagings. Instead, the technique of abrasion seems to be evolving into an autonomous aesthetic device. Literally penetrating the "skin" of the painting, it reflects de Bloeme's curious probing into his own working methods. Or perhaps he has shifted interest from artistically capturing time past to anticipating a time that is still to elapse in the future? Frozen under a transparent coat of lacquer, simulated signs of time passing show through, safely protected from future effects of time. At a moment in time still under the artist's control, he seeks to control time that is beyond his control.
Also de Bloeme's distinctive artistic method of reducing and transforming trademarks of consumer society, and his unique technique of assimilating censored, distorted text blocks into his compositions have become more refined, as the painting Salon in this exhibition illustrates. An assembly of templates in the form of white frames cover the painting in varying arrangements, placed over or next to one another. By superimposing these empty text-blocks or monitor-like templates fascinating depths and an amazing variety of levels are added to the painting. It is quite obvious that the artist is in search of the essence of the visual patterns and codes found in the appropriated material, concentrating even more strongly on their compositional and communicative impact.
From the beginning, even in his wonderfully composed postsack works of the 1990's, de Bloeme's certainty in the significance and meaning of painting in contemporary art has been reflected in his work. For him the questions and answers, which painting is still able to propose, is the continual challenge with which the artist has to confront himself. The questions regarding the potentialities of painting, the problem of depicting space and perspective, the manipulation of already manipulated material, the language of colours remain at the centre of his craft and, hence, not least, the associated question of his own role as artist himself.
Ronald de Bloeme studied Fine Arts at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam from 1992 until 1996. A scholarship to Künstlerhaus Bethanien brought him to Berlin in 2000, where he has lived and worked since. De Bloeme received the Vattenfall Kunstpreis Energie for 2007. Recent solo exhibitions include Berlinische Galerie Museum, Pharos Centre for Contemporary Art, Cyprus, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, NL, and Galerie Deutsche Werkstätten, Dresden-Hellerau. His paintings regularly feature in group shows, most recently at Dresden's Albertinum, Neue Meister Galerie, Art Gallery CCA Andratx, Majorca, and Bel Etage Berlin. An upcoming exhibition show-casing the works of de Bloeme, Daan van Golden and J.C.J. van der Heyden will be mounted at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, NL.