Galerie Ron Mandos proudly presents the fourth solo exhibition of Dutch artist Renie Spoelstra (1974). Her new charcoal drawings of volcanic landscapes create a disquieting presence. The images of beaches, forests, and moraines are sometimes barely discernible. As they hover on the verge of complete darkness, Spoelstra gives them a highly charged, cinematic quality and a sense of intensified feeling. Nordic Noir refers to the genre of crime fiction in Scandinavian books and films.

Renie Spoelstra | Nordic Noir

Her new series of charcoal drawings consists of seemingly random images of Scandinavian landscapes that could be the ‘in between shots’ of a Nordic Noir TV series. The randomness of these images demystifies our romantic conception of Scandinavian landscapes, which coincides with the degradation of nature through climate change and mass tourism, often incited by blockbuster movies that draw large groups of people to original film sites. For her newest work, Spoelstra is bothered by a cruel paradox: “In my heart I am a true romantic who prefers to flee into nature, but hot topics such as mass tourism (through boredom and decadence) and climate change cast a dark shadow over this urge.


ABOUT Renie Spoelstra

Renie Spoelstra’s arduous process of drawing always begins with a journey. For close to a decade, she has travelled to coasts, lakes and beaches throughout North America and Europe. Recently she visited the volcanic islands of La Palma and Iceland, looking for landscapes that evoke overwhelming existential feelings. Once she has found these locations, she films the scenes, and by using the stills from the footage, she is able to move on to the next phase of conveying a personal representation of a geographic location. Her work is never about the locations she depicts – no matter how beautiful they are. They are always about triggering emotions and associations that sharpen our senses.

Spoelstra uses film footage as a starting point for her charcoal drawings. The suede like and velvety texture is achieved by the many layers of charcoal, which are skillfully positioned on top of each other to re-create an almost cinematographic scene. The balance between darkness and soft beams of light is rendered through the many shades of black and grey, creating a notion that something may be lurking below the surface.

Spoelstra looks for an atmosphere, and it is this atmosphere that she tries to re-create in her drawings. The dark hues, empty landscapes and sheer size of the works evoke an existential, melancholic sentiment, and allows for the viewer to lose oneself in each piece. Although these works are reproductions of real places, and are not imagined sceneries, the soulful nature of the drawings, and dark depths, reveal a personal interpretation of the artist’s emotion.

Themes of intensity, secrecy and mystery are reoccurring in Spoelstra’s works. There is an alluring and mythical feel of a place. The series ‘Stretching Universe’ refers to the scientific fact that our universe is expanding, while here on earth it feels as though it is shrinking with the rise of xenophobia, narrow-mindedness and the continuous threats of climate change. Fleeing, or escaping to nature is not as easy as it may seem.

Renie Spoelstra studied at St. Joost, Breda and at the Academie Minerva, Groningen. She has exhibited in the Netherlands and abroad, notably at institutions like the Albertina, Vienna; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. Her work is included in renowned collections such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris; MACBA Barcelona; Stedelijk Museum Schiedam; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Amstelveen; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; the Guerlain Fondation, Paris, and many other (private) collections.