NRC – Levi van Veluw
Breathtakingly beautiful and desponding
‘The Relativity of Matter’ takes visitors on a hallucinatory, mental trip. Without a doubt the most spectacular exhibition of the year.
It was without a doubt the most spectacular exhibition of the year. In the mystical, all absorbing total installation The Relativity of Matter, which Levi van Veluw (1985) set up at Marres in Maastricht last fall, visitors were taken on a hallucinatory, mental trip that ran through ten different rooms. All one’s senses were working overtime to (unsuccessfully) understand the disorganized, disarranged mass of seemingly distant or seemingly close-by things one could perceive in the dark. Van Veluw, who graduated in 2004 from the Academy of Arts in Arnhem and who became renowned for his highly aesthetic, meticulously executed videos, photos, drawings and installations, presents the sequel to Marres in gallery Ron Mandos in Amsterdam. The Monolith, which encompasses virtually all conceivable media that fan out from a large cube-shaped, black-stained walnut building that is obviously reminiscent of the Kaaba in Mecca. This building can be accessed as well. Once inside one is immersed in the mind of the artist/metallurgist.
There, sitting in the dark, is not just one holy stone, but hundreds of pieces of jet black charcoal, some polished and shiny, others frayed or beaten to dust. There is a desk with a stool. The walls are lined from top to bottom with type case boxes, filled with pieces of coal.
Upon entering the gallery spaces from within this darkness, the visitor is confronted with Van Veluw’s mental world which unfolds in its full, yet also claustrophobic magnitude. There are charcoal drawings of out-of-plumb architectural structures. There are ink-black desks with drawers full of coal and sometimes a wonderful surprise between the slits (kneeling required). There are black wall reliefs – grids reminiscent of the minimalist works of Jan Schoonhoven, that shimmer and tantalize in an oppressive manner. And there is a deep basin filled with immersed tables and chairs, illuminated in a very sophisticated manner.
The new work of Van Veluw is not cheerful. Nor is it exhilarating. It is breathtakingly beautiful and desponding. For the monolith and charcoal do not offer a way out.
ABOUT Levi van Veluw
Levi van Veluw was born in 1985, in Hoevelaken, The Netherlands
He lives and works near Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Since graduating in 2007, Levi van Veluw has produced multi-disciplinary works that includes photographs, videos, sculptures, installations and drawings. This varied body of work has been showcased in many different locations across Europe and the United States, earning him a number of nominations and awards.
The artist first became known in 2008 with his solo exhibition Landscapes at Galerie Ron Mandos in Amsterdam. This coincided with him being awarded the International Photo Award in New York for the photo series “Ballpoints”, and the selection of one of his video works for the Whitstable Biennale UK.
In 2010, the work of the artist was showcased in a series of major museum exhibitions, including the exhibition “Dead or Alive” at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem and Ars Electronica in Linz.
2013 saw the publication of the book “Origin of the Beginning”. This singular book is a work of art in itself, published in an edition of 1000 hand-signed copies. The book, which is widespread among collectors and enthusiasts, provides an overview of the artist’s work from 2006 to 2013, a rich oeuvre that includes photographs, drawings, installations, sculptures and videos.
The work of Levi Veluw has been exhibited internationally in leading museums and institutions, and is included in both public and private collections, such as the Borusan Collection, Istanbul; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; Museum MORE, Gorssel; the KPMG Art Collection, Amstelveen; the Ekard Collection, Wassenaar; the Lakeside Collection, Rotterdam, and Cobra to Contemporary/The Brown Family Collection. In addition to his work in his individual practice, Levi van Veluw has also worked on commissions for private clients. In this way, he has collaborated, in 2012, with curator Marc Coetzee on the film “Family” in the frame of the “Films4peace” project. In 2014, van Veluw created for Hermès a life-sized site-specific installation for one of their main windows in Shanghai. Van Veluw’s works have also been widely shown at international art fairs such as, among others, The Armory Show New York, Art Brussels, Volta Basel, Unseen Amsterdam and the Barcelona Loop Fair Barcelona.