We are a bit stuck

levi van veluw origin of the beginning gallery exhibition dutch artist 30,000 wooden blocks rooms art installation artistic abstract photography


levi van veluw: origin of the beginning
ron mandos gallery, amsterdam, netherlands
on now through june 25th, 2011
in his solo exhibition ‘origin of the beginning’, dutch artist levi van veluw makes use of 30,000 wooden blocks, balls, and slats
to blanket three rooms that recall his childhood bedroom. the life-size installations are accompanied by photographs and videos
that not only bring literally to life the current installation, but also draw up the artist’s often-sombre memories of youth.
known for his self-portraits which involve the layering of diverse materials onto his head, van veluw creates in this exhibition
an entire narrative framework, without neglecting his emphasis on materiality, texture, and aesthetic.
the first of the three rooms contains a desk, a table lamp, and a bookcase, with a figure seated at the table. the table’s edge is burnt,
a reference to van veluw’s childhood obsession with fire; and one of the video pieces of the exhibition recreates within the room
this very act. nothing in the piece is left uncovered by 14,000 16-sq.centimeter wooden blocks, each handmade and individually
glued upon the walls, ceiling, figure, and furniture. the other two rooms of the installation interpret other aspects of van veluw’s
boyhood bedroom, blanketed in wooden slats and small wooden balls respectively.
van veluw notes in his description of the exhibition that between the ages of eight and 14 he spent many solitary hours in his bedroom;
and the dark gradients of the blocks, coupled with the precise but imperfect rhythm of the repetition, lends a strikingly personal
and melancholic feel to the three-dimensional portraits. the gallery description of the works suggests:
‘the repetitive structures seemingly express a ‘horrorvacui’ and recall van veluw the youth and his obsessive attempts to gain control
on his life by gaining control of his surroundings. dimly lit and dark in colour, the overriding tone of these pieces is claustrophobic
and sombre, exuding a sense of loneliness.’

These 5 people are from Levi van’s family. One is his father Levi van Veluw, mother, brother and a sister. This room is more like a real-life installation with diameters of (4m x 2.5m x 2.5m). The family members as well as the area are covered with 20,000 dark brown wooden blocks and all this without any digital manipulation of any sort.  When you look at the table, it looks like any other peaceful one. It gives an image of a picture-perfect family. To play games with your mind, these group figurines have been positioned in a very abstract environment. It is something that is unrecognisable and that does not belong to this world. The work has a very subtle note of dark in colour and dimly lit combination. It makes you want to get away from this place, as it’s very lonely.  The room focuses your attention more to the dark notes and underlying uncomfortable ambience. Maximum usage of wooden blocks also symbolizes the need for Veluw to make attempts to gain position and control within the family sphere. Levi van Veluw's series "Origin of the Beginning consists of photographs, installations and videos in which he draws from his own childhood memories to thematically and narratively develop his own brand of self-portraiture. Portrayed in this piece is a room with 5 persons sitting at a table. These persons are Levi van Veluw, his father, mother, brother and sister. The room is executed as a life-size installation (4m x 2.5m x 2.5m) in which everything , including the family members themselves, is covered with 20.000 dark brown wooden blocks. (without any digital manipulation)  At first glance everyone is sitting peacefully at the table, the picture of a perfect family unit. Yet this group of figures is positioned in an abstract environment, unrecognisable and therefore far removed from reality. Dimly light and dark in colour the overriding tone of this work is claustrophobic and sombre, exuding a sense of loneliness.  The awkward silence and dark colour suggest uncomfortable underlying tensions and emotions.The endless repetition of wooden blocks stands for van Veluw’s attempts to gain control of his own position within the familial structure.  photo info: Levi van Veluw Origin of the Beginning / Family 2012courtesy Galerie Ron Mandos

‘Origin of the beginning’ by dutch artist Levi van Veluw / photographs courtesy of Galerie Ron Mandos

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