20 Jan – 25 Feb 2007

W139 Colored

Rob Birza, Paul Drissen, Iris Kensmil, Adriaan Rees, Peter Vos

W139 back in the Warmoesstraat with W139 Colored:  

The unsuspecting visitor who will again enter W139 after a couple of years of absence, will not suspect that the building was almost completely torn down en rebuilt.

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Among other things a soundproof cover for all the walls en ceilings was put in, a whole new office wing was build, a new floor was put in and also it is now, for the first time, in winter warmer in the exhibition space than it is outside. With this W139 ensured her existence for the next 50 years, but irrevocably lost the physical patina of over 20 years of art production. A soil that now has to be rebuilt. During the renovation, Ad de Jong (co-founder of W139) was present in the building almost on a daily basis to check and monitor all the work, after four o‘clock, when the construction workers had left. Often the place looked so fantastic that he wanted to sent the building constructor home and start using the spaces in their provisional state. It is a distinguishing characteristic of artists to feel comfortable with the unfinished and even become nervous or depressed when everything around them is finished. W139 is an artist centred space and it is one of its tasks to maintain this unfinished state as a lasting atmosphere in her building. While the entourage for contemporary art is becoming more stylish in a lot of places, an inviolable shell, an empty promotion capsule in which works of art are presented based on budget, floor plan and assistance, W139 stays a place where artists come to create their works.  

For the opening exhibition of her renovated birthplace W139 invited five artists: Iris Kensmil, Adriaan Rees, Rob Birza, Peter Vos and Paul Drissen. The question was if they wanted to make works that fuse together with the architecture of the exhibition space. Futhermore the object was that (parts of) their works permanently stay present in the exhibition space. Not to restore the inviolable status of the “everlasting” art piece but rather to fade the boundaries between the different autonomous contributions. Following artists can ignore, affect, change, complete or destroy the works that are present.  

Iris Kensmil adds an episode to her project, in which she commemorates and represents the emancipation of black people in monumental paintings. For W139 she painted two big friezes. A march of the Black Panthers, Marcus Garvey who is wearing a professor’s cap and is reading a book, Martin Luther King who is walking around his own grave with his family. Iris Kensmil is one of the rare artists who didn’t have to go to great lengths to formulate what the content of her art is. In that sense her work is diametrically opposed (and proud to be) to an art of painting which, in the tradition of Richter and Tuymans, continuously wants to undermine the possibilities of the painted image.  

In 2001 Rob Birza made the exhibition “One is Free” in gallery Fons Welters. For the first time, big groups of people performed in his paintings. Even though it was obvious that they were made after current newspaper photographs, it was, when looking at the paintings, clear that they were actually about the question of how to paint people. He had succeeded to let a reality in without instrumentalising the art. For W139 Rob Birza made a couple of big murals that show his formal and decorative capacities as well as his openness towards the world.

One of the big improvements that have been realised in the renovations is, that seen from the Warmoestraat, you can see the whole depth of the building. The wall that you look out on, asked for an image. Peter Vos painted a face on the Jungfrau. The snow-capped mountain top lies in the evening sun, full of glow and chilliness. It is very special that the atmosphere of artificiality and animation which the painting also radiates, is not capable of undermining  the impression of purity and eternity.  

Paul Drissen uses the language of forms, the design and art icons of modernism to massage and relax the status of the autonomous art piece which has been empowered by modernism. For W139 colored he made a ceiling and a mural in which chequered gingham fabrics are combined with reproductions of Modriaan and photo’s of Macintosh interiors. The difference between wall and art piece and especially the forced difference between true abstract art and decoration melt together in a grotesque and intimate way.  

Adriaan Rees is not an airport artist for whom a hotel room and a laptop will do, but he did work on his sculptures from Tokio to Moscow and from Canada to Israel. Most of the time in association with local artisians, workplaces and art school students and always to achieve material products at the scene. For W139 he made a skirting board of concrete and stuccowork that surround the whole floor. Islands, banks, little stairs, pedestals and steps have become one with the wall and the ground.  David Bade makes a cartoon about the art world, the first of which can be seen during W139 colored.

De Blauwe Hond/ Bernaar Leenders designed and produced the interior of the Polar Room; the public meeting space on the first floor of the office.  

Thomas Mohr photographed all activities of W139 during the last few years and put  all these photos together to form a wall filling visual report in the Polar Room.  

Fashion shop Saturday Pascal Gatzen and Saskia van Drimmelen present and sell a series of clothes, as a foretaste of the Fashion shop W137.  

Art quiz Sunday all the visitors can enter the W139 arts quiz of Kuno Terwind and Paul Roos. You can win an all inclusive week-end in the beautiful new apartment of W139.