ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
On entering Botanical Body Bliss by Hadassah Emmerich, you are first ensnared by her arresting, prismatic mural. At 15-meters-wide, these vibrant, foreign forms take on an overwhelming and monumental quality. Amongst them, you will encounter Emmerich’s intimate series of collages – created using pieces of vinyl. Emmerich has developed her material process over many years – unique in how she repurposes vinyl flooring and cuts it into stencils. These stencils are then painted and used to print on canvas or walls. This creative process generates cycles between works. As shapes and patterns recur in new compositions and contexts, each work begins to speak to or of another. Emmerich likes to identify with this interplay of forms and colors because of her culturally diverse background. Her mixed heritage of Dutch, Indonesian, Chinese, and German is a key point of departure in her artistic practice.
As we wander deeper into Emmerich’s luscious, abstract jungle – recognizable forms begin to emerge: tropical fruits, palms and other “exotic” plants and flowers. Slowly, we see them transform into human contours: a licking tongue, a breast, or further regions of the intimate female body. Her painting The Seventh Papaya, for example, consists of a green-yellow papaya, within which Emmerich hints at both mandorla and vulva. Around it, leaf patterns evoke auras, elevating the already healing and nourishing fruit to the status of religious object.
Hadassah Emmerich presents fruits, plants, and female body parts as exotic objects of desire. Since the beginning of her career, she has been exploring stereotypical constructs of the “exotic” – its history of sexualization and commodification. Colorful souvenirs in Indonesian markets, for example, rarely have anything to do with the culture within which they are presented. Rather, they operate as a means to satiate a visitor’s appetite, one they have cultivated through their ideations of foreign soil. How we deal with other cultures and integrate them into ours fascinates Emmerich. Her multicultural background informs experiments in color and their cultural association. In these explorations, she mixes warm bright colors with cool muted ones to create a fluid, universal palette of hues. In Botanical Body Bliss, a powerful fusion of colors, figures, and patterns takes place as Emmerich celebrates this cross-pollination of cultures.
During this exhibition, Marcos Kueh, winner of the Young Blood Award 2022, will present a new textile installation in the gallery’s center space. The Malaysian artist created his works during the Ron Mandos Young Blood Foundation Artist-In-Residency at the Brutus Lab in Rotterdam. Read more about the exhibition here.