Galerie Onrust is presenting new work by Derk Thijs (b. Amsterdam, 1977) in the exhibition Orel Borel. Derk Thijs came across this actress’s name in the credits for the movie Southern Comfort. “The movie is about some members of a U.S. National Guard squad who have to go on manoeuvres in the swamps of Louisiana. They antagonise some Cajun locals, who then go hunting for the soldiers. An underlying theme is the contrast between modern people from the city who think themselves smart and rational and people in the countryside who, from the point of view of city dwellers, lead illogical and chaotic lives, based on local traditions and superstitions.”
Derk Thijs saw a relationship between the subjects in the movie and his works: “I feel that the places that are presented in my paintings have a link with that swampland: transitional areas, areas on the fringe, areas that are a kind of melting pot and that are considered impure. Or areas between fresh and salt water, and depictions of crabs (salt) eating beans (fresh).”
The exhibition features collages, drawings and paintings, including painted harbour views as a continuation of a previous series of works that Derk Thijs made at his studio in IJmuiden. Thijs has further explored not only the choice of subject, but also the manner of painting. “Ambiguous life that cannot be reduced to rationality – that’s what this group of works is about. This also has a lot to do with the manner of painting: very slow and careful, with strokes aimed at keeping the surface open. And with space to keep the forms undefined and evocative. The road to impressionism has continued: the strokes are smaller and, for me, it’s very much about the space, the air between the strokes. About a sort of vibration or noise that connects all the shapes in a painting.”
Beans play a central role in Derk Thijs’s collages, inspired by a pre-Columbian* tapestry that depicts beans as warriors. “The beans in the collages represent hope and the possibility of taking action. Beans are seeds and therefore literally contain new life and new possibilities.” There are also a number of paintings in which beans have taken the place of people. We see scenes that are set in the bedroom, the kitchen and the living room of the house where Derk Thijs lives with his family. An ode to the love and security he feels there. Derk Thijs sees the substitution of beans for people as a starting point from which to think differently about the place of human beings in the world.
* The pre-Columbian period is the era of American history before the European discovery of the American continent by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
translation: Laura Watkinson