About Gerard Druiven

Gerard Druiven

Na van 1974 tot 1979 de Akademie Minerva te Groningen te hebben gevolgd is Gerard Druiven in deze stad blijven wonen. Het artistiek klimaat bevalt hem er wel, hoewel hij ook vaak in Amsterdam is. Daar bevindt hij zich in de kringen van het voormalige kunstenaarsinitiatief AORTA. In de eerste helft van de jaren tachtig exposeert hij eerst enkele malen in het kader van de groep De Lui en later onder andere samen met zijn Groningse bentgenoot Siert Dallinga.

Druiven heeft zich geenszins beperkt tot twee-dimensionale kunst (schilderijen en series grote tekeningen), maar heeft zich ook vaak op het gebied van installaties bewogen, zoals bij Ruimtelijke Tekening (1983), het Weer (1984), en Roodkapje, dat hij in 1987 samen met Siert Dallinga maakte.

Gerard Druiven - Rain
Gerard Druiven - Rain

Druiven maakt kunst die van herkenbare vormen uitgaat: menselijke koppen en figuren, land- schappen, genreachtige interieurs en stillevens. Toch is de realiteit slechts aanleiding tot de voor- stellingen, ze staat nergens model. Met disproporties in perspectief, in onderlinge grootte en vorm, wordt het oog van de toeschouwer geleidelijk binnen het landschap van de geest geleid. Deze nieuwe ruimte is echter evenwel voorstelbaar en tastbaar. Druiven geeft zich minder over aan modieuze filosofische en kunsttheoretische bespiegelingen dan aan een vrijwel renaissancistische beleving van mikro- en makrokosmos. Het menselijk gebeuren daarin is nietig en beperkt van strekking. Handelingen zijn middel om iets anders uit te drukken. Voorstellingen als pogingen om de stilte te pakken.

Art is allowed again and it's getting sociable.

Or the paradox of Three Brothers in the visual arts who have nothing in common really, but do wish to offer a New Climate, as Brothers in the Visual Arts in the nineties of this century. Their extensive way of talking reminds one of bygone times, whereas these artists in particular make use of the conveniences of rapid communications, In most cases, however, they avail themselves of the spoken word, especially when the Mystery of Art is involved: Painting and Drawing, Sculpture, The Mixed Media.

To say that Realism in some form or other has made a comeback would be jumping to conclusions. Of course, irony and the decoding of the mystifications of Postmodernism and earlier conceptual movements is vigorously shown here, but just isn't amusing enough to use it as a stepping-stone. Distinctly articulating through Pictures and Sculptures the Brothers in Art are telling you how they deal with art.

The chicken in Dallinga's 'Homeward', 1988, and his Titanic-like toy boat in the painting 'Cruise', 1988, reflect the overthrow of axioms in a crucial way. Values will turn against themselves and what is left for us is Rest and Contemplation, in such a way that even a Nobel Prize winner with a tear may be portrayed, as in Dallinga's painting 'Remorse', 1988. They appeal to our own imagination of the almost 'over' encoded pictures, which function as key passages in a correspondence with the outside world.

As a trio Dallinga, Druiven and Heyink are very active under a category of hominess.

They often meet in Groningen, where Druiven is still living, or Amsterdam, the residence of Heyink and Dallinga, to have Conversations about the World and about Art. It's just sociable; at home, at Arti et Amicitiae (art society Amsterdam) and later in the evening at the CGDDK Club (Cultural Society of The Dark Room).

Not a GROUP! No CREEDS! But Fellow Artists indeed.

This for instance reveals itself in a project that was jointly realized: The Museum, No postmodern temple, but a Dallinga -Druiven - Heyink production, in which n active role is reserved for the viewer, The well-known fruit machine is functioning as ever. The pictures one is confronted with are made by the artists.

The plan is that after the exhibition this work of art will go on tour in Groningen.

Especially Harry Heyink has an enormous fund of Energy to draw on for building up a vast body of work as well as being an 'interdisciplinary' artist who uses audio-visual materials as imagery means in particular, and also to be active on the managerial level with regard to Arti et Amicitiae, Cooperation with other artists takes shape in his contributions to the art society 'CGDDK and to 'Loge 4d', an international cooperation of visual artists who are operating in various disciplines. A leitmotiv through all his activities (since his studies of mathematics and physics, later art school, during which he specialized in audio-visuals) is setting things on foot together with others.

We are talking about interaction in the world of performances, the single tapes, the audio-visual works, the video installations such as 'Ahorcado Nudo' from 1985; or the video-opera for five monitors, which is now in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. This work, 'The naked Hangman,' is very intense as many of the video installations, sculptures with a video monitor. It deals with pain, as a stimulus. Not so much just with seks and the role of man and woman or eroticism in general, but with the impulse to think. This fierceness also has a spiritual side. Namely that of going deeply into the complexity of existence and the logic of developmental steps. Particularly the use of colour, the ultramarine, refers to the interaction between an intention that takes it 'further' and, as it sometimes appears, one that is directly involved in the platitude of reality.

We actually would think of Pop Art and Nouveau Realism, but Heyink especially wants to be clear of the obligatory developments in video land. After all, he is more interested in the simultaneity of the various media which get together in his work.

'The Rose', a well-known Video/Audio sculpture from 1987, is a striking example of this. According to the cliche, the rose is a metaphor for romance and eroticism. Blown up and magnified as if it were a giant object by Oldenburg, this work nevertheless is a typical understatement of Heyink's. Especially the sound, composed by him and performed by a female cellist, expresses what we can feel and experience when seeing a rose. 'Vagina Dentata' also from 1987, is a crucial work of art, insofar as it refers to a feeling of doubt. The question 'why am I creating this sort of work' as well as the incentive to do it, is there.

Although a lot is overthrown by just passing new ideas about video and sculpture, it is not a matter of unscrupulously breaking down taboos, In this respect Dallinga/ Druiven and Heyink speak the same language, Their story is fundamentally different from the agitated chasing after topicality, although they know all about that, Dallinga and Druiven started as draughtsman respectively, Their way of working in art was rather classical, Later on they would wear themselves out creating up-to-date works of art (installations) as if they were protagonists of Modern Times.

Exactly this aspect was expelled They chose to go their own way. Art is allowed again and it's getting sociable!

Without any problem masters of all time are referred to, as well as rather obvious instruction manuals and realia.

Timelessness is activated and skilfully integrated in a pictorial 'event'. In this context Druiven chooses the so-called picture-like approach, i.e. the timeless and almost banal reality of what could be represented. Sometimes almost like a neoclassical wall chart or similar, with eternal wisdom traced to: East, West, Home's Best. And so it may also happen that the heater produces carbon monoxide. We should beware of that, is what we learnt at Protestant denominational school.

Gerard Druiven - Take care! Carbon monoxide
Gerard Druiven - Take care! Carbon monoxide

Father is asleep in an armchair. It may turn out badly. But still, the painting titled 'Beware of carbon monoxide' 1989, is a beautiful one. It challenges our imagination, just because of the schematic character of the almost expressionless, theatrical ingredients, which are only too clear to us. As if there's a 'Beware of the dog' sign. But maybe the damage is already done. Father was poisoned by carbon monoxide and died.

Through pictures the suburban small-scaled way of thinking can be expressed to the maximum, about nearly nothing. It's nothing and smaller than small. And all this within a larger-than-life stretch. A Pieter de Hoogh in the caricatural? But why should I draw such conclusions about anyone of them?

I know how meticulously the painter Druiven, for instance, placed poles around a small house in one of his paintings, "Raking from 1990; and just outside of the palings he has a man (" mankind) raking a small field. The raker keeps raking the field near the house. Time is making us desperate, what is going on here? The painter pronounces us timeless in a literary way, depicting reality through metaphorical imagery.

Gerard Druiven - Chech landscape
Gerard Druiven - Chech landscape

Anyway, this means hard working for Druiven, resulting in a number of fine paintings on an annual basis.

Siert Dallinga shows us a boy's portrait in the painting "Hunter's son' from 1987, which has become quite known by now It's a dear boy, a bit too dear and a little vicious. He's wearing one of those costumes, just as many other models of Dallinga's. We're not surprised at the Russian soldier at a very well-known point in the Dutch dune area in the painting 'Nostalgia' from 1989, who's reading a letter from his mother; nor are we surprised at the tall and thin Russian, presented to us in beautiful Frisian surroundings ('Nostalgia 2', 1989). Gentleness is combined with a mild melancholy towards the Uniform; the Soldiers coming from the East bloc.

Meanwhile, the world has changed so much that it may be to know that the policeman (1990) is not a member of the poliution squad, but is just there, in Dallinga's imaginary world. Nothings wrong. Actually, there's never anything wrong, for Dallinga seeks peace and quiet and just mixes things, in time and in place, which turns out to be more or less alarming as we become familiar with the idiom of his language: he's a narrator, someone who's giving us indications.

Its code is almost old and familiar to us. What about the fat boy in a children's cart in the famous painting 'Die Hulsenbeckschen Kinder' from 1905 by Philip Otto Runge. The jaunty little boy from Runge's painting causes us to see Dallinga's Hunter's son in a different light. The homely and (melo)dramatic element in Dallinga's images is attracting our attention in an increasingly penetrating way. In this small company, Dallinga certainly is the Master of the Brush. Strong-willed and with a firm hand he expresses an existent and nonexistent reality in a spectrum of strong nineteenth-century pictures, particularly relating to the Haagse School and the Barbizon School. But the masters Friedrich and Runge probably come closest. Dallinga himself is not losing any sleep over it; after all, he's choosing from reality in museums, where the works of art are displayed, just as easy as from a Picture album showing the same masters or from pictures in natural history books.

It's rather a literary reality that influences his observation. Everything in it is genuine and applicable. His granny's small galley and coffeepot seem to be very natural in the masterly winter still life 'Adversity', 1991, which was recently shown in Arti as part of the 'Paradise and other parks' exhibition. These artefacts are brought back to and fitted in a timeless composition in which all things are interrelated. Both the anecdote and the art-historical references appear to be absorbed in a one-dimensional and renewed experience of phenomena we all know: winter, yearning, timelessness. The almost visionary - unemotional - contemplative outlook of Casper David Friedrich (1744-1840) is echoed in Dallinga's work. A man as Frisian as a Frisian in Amsterdam can be, whereas he contends that he's actually from Groningen.

The 'Northerly aspect' of his cool sense of humour - which associates him with his fellow artists - is nourished by the contemplative mind, the vision.

An outlook on reality so down-to-earth that the quality of the mental and pictorial element might escape our notice.

We risk to be nearly deadlocked in the alarming and arresting (and untruthful) pictorial situations: a Chicken on a Dune; Soldiers - preferably from East bloc countries - standing in our "Heiteland' ('Fatherland').

Friesland, represented more beautiful than ever. It's more just Friesland, It's a contemporary Mondriaan-ish outlook on 24 country, as if it were a Boogie - Woogie. In his works Dallinga shows us the shimmering, tingling, as if we're not dealing with the Here and Now, but with Timelessness. A juxtaposition of the most diovergent forces giving rise to such paintings of rest and contemplation.