I had to chance to do some freelance work for 27fleurus – not only condition report the works exhibited but also write their press release (
versatility baby). The show has now unfortunately ended but do keep an eye on what’s cooking at the amazing place that is the Averard Hotel ; young artists and curators in an abandoned hotel in central London – yes please !
Olphaert den Otter at the Averard Hotel
27 Fleurus is delighted to take over the breakfast room of the Averard Hotel to present, for the first time in the UK, a selection of paintings by Dutch artist Olphaert den Otter (b. 1955). From his home city of Rotterdam, Olphaert den Otter produces series of paintings in the long standing medium of egg tempera to achieve clear, bright, pure and pastel-like colours to invite the viewer into his rather darker elsewhere(s). Inspired by, and often referencing, art history, philosophy or literature, den Otter draws from the past – not the least in his technique – to reinterpret the present and future of the humans of which his compositions are paradoxically exempt. Rendered universal rather than personal by this absence, his paintings allow the viewer to inhabit their shelters – as in the Refuge Morphology Series (2004-2007) – or reflect on his own imprint on the world as in the World Stress Paintings (started in 2009) and The Four Elements (2015) both presented here.
Diverting the classical idea of the water, air, earth and fire as fundamental constituents of everything that is, The Four Elements depict a pre-apocalyptic world where the nature we’ve been trying to grip and exploit escapes our control and floods, submerges, turns over, destroys and burns. Those visions, far from dystopian, depict the floods (Water), hurricanes (Air), wars (Fire) and mass killings (Earth) we know all too well from the news photographs that inspire the artist’s compositions. The elements feature as strongly in the World Stress Paintings – twenty examples of which are presented here – collection of beautifully eerie landscapes, burning buildings, wreckages and other manmade disasters, of contemporary Vanitas. In both series, the topicality of the subject matters makes the viewer loose his apparent innocence and forces to reflect on the traces we are imprinting on both nature and mankind. But it is not all doom and gloom, as den Otter insists on the sublime aspect of apparent destruction. There is always hope in change and renewal. Flowers grow again on the killing field. Humanity still stands.
The looming destruction in Olphaert den Otter’s paintings is beautifully paralleled by the surroundings of the Averard Hotel. There, the amalgam of abandonment and past grandeur echoes harmoniously with the subjective notions of waste and value so dear to the artist.
Standing proud since the 19th century, the exquisitely derelict hotel is lending its quarters, for its last few months before refurbishment, to a series of projects by young curators and artists. A sight not to be missed.
About the artist
Olphaert den Otter was born in 1955 in Portugaal in the Netherlands. He studied at the Willem de Kooning Academy (1976-1981) in Rotterdam, where he lives and works. He has had numerous solo and group shows including :
016 Caves Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2016 Galerie Phoebus, Rotterdam
2014 Centraal Museum Utrecht, presentation purchase World Stress Painting Series
2008 Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
2016 Snapshot of a larger order, De Ketelfactory, Schiedam
2015 Nieuwe gezichten op Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht
2015 Gevaar en Schoonheid – Turner en de traditie van het sublieme, De Fundatie, Zwolle en Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede
2014 Utopie Picturale 2, Fonderie Kugler, Genève
2014 Bruegelland/Hoge Horizon, artist’s initiative Voorkamer, Stedelijk Museum Lier, in collaboration with Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen
2014 Nothing but Good, Park Tilburg
2012 Secret Postcards, Jan van Eyckacademie, Maastricht
2012 Secret Gardens, Tent, Rotterdam
2011 dessin d’aujourd’hui et demain 6, espace Kugler, Genève, Switzerland
2010 Mode de Vie, Halle Nord, Genève, Switzerland
Museum Bijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Centraal Museum, Utrecht
Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam
– Emilie Cloos