This summer, the Gemeentemuseum is giving Dutch artist Toon Verhoef (b. Voorburg, 1946) free run of the Projects Gallery. He will use the space for an installation involving nine recent paintings of monumental proportions.
The Projects Gallery is a space which the museum makes available to individual artists to exhibit their work without the intervention of a curator. On this occasion, Toon Verhoef is choosing to show selected paintings in a way that is at odds with tradition and with usual museum practice. He has decided to deny them the space that their large size and visual impact normally demand. For the first time ever, he is choosing to overload visitors with visual images by turning his paintings into an installation. As an experiment, Verhoef will position the nine canvases – each measuring an identical 250 by 190 cm – as closely together as possible, so that they will interact with each other within the masterful architectural setting created by Berlage. The nine canvases selected by Verhoef cannot be regarded as a series, but are certainly related. All of them are recent works produced in the last three years. In addition to their large format, the complex layering, physical structure and transparency of the paintings are typical of the artist’s work. Forms, colours, symbols, lines, structures and textures form a transparent overlapping collage and offer a complex window which commands the viewer’s genuine attention. Verhoef’s artistic intentions are as complex as the world he creates within his paintings. On the one hand, he wants his canvases to be seen for what they are: they contain no trace of anything figurative or anecdotal. On the other, he ensures that his pictures only gradually reveal themselves to the viewer. As a result, his work is impossible to take in at a glance. On the contrary, its transparency, layering and multiplicity of forms confuse the eye and lead it gradually on from one discovery to another.
Eventually, you may actually find yourself wondering where the painting itself has gone. Paradoxically, even though you can clearly see how it was made, the painting becomes a visual phenomenon in its own right: its material reality fades away and the picture becomes a world in itself, making you forget the role of the artist in its creation.