The Groninger Museum will present a solo exhibition of work by Marc Bijl (Leerdam, The Netherlands, 1970) from 7 October 2012 to 1 April 2013. Marc Bijl’s repertoire includes installations, videos, sculptures and paintings. Marc Bijl’s work is often constructed from rough building materials, sheets of corrugated iron, mirrors and flowing black epoxy. By combining well-known symbols, (art-) historical allusions and slogans, his work both investigates and continually undermines the underlying power structures that characterize mass culture.
Bijl exhibits regularly at home and abroad. His work is included in both public and private collections. In 2004 he was awarded the Charlotte Köhler Prize and in 2008 he won the Theo Wolvencamp Prize. This current exhibition is the first large overview of his work in a museum in The Netherlands. The exhibition includes a selection of his earlier work as well as his recent work and will also show work that he has made especially for this exhibition. Bijl lives and works in Berlin.
Marc Bijl makes use of overly familiar logos and images derived straight from youth and protest culture. He uses the imagery of multinationals and gaming in an ingenious way in order to question and undermine the power relationships between the individual and society. An example of this is the work PORN (2010) which was acquired by the Groninger Museum. This work refers to Robert Indiana’s work, LOVE, which in the course of time has become a famous symbol of the Love Generation of the sixties. Bijl has adapted the sculpture and transformed it for the present generation. In this day and age in which naivety seems lost forever, and where extreme transparency, vulgarization and far-reaching commercialization reign free, PORN seems no more than a symbol and somber label for the times we live in.
Recently, Bijl’s earlier activism, the graffiti, the games he played with logos and his use of the clichés of the Gothic and Punk movements by making much use of black epoxy and gothic script has given way to a more restrained, austere visual imagery. Without relinquishing his main theme, he seems to be turning away from the romantic image of the rebel and anti-artist and to be directing his attention towards the history of art and modernism. Mondriaan, Rietveld, Rothko, Newman and Bas Jan Ader are among those he cites in his work. This makes his work look starker and more deliberate.
The new work he has made especially for this exhibition is an entirely personal interpretation of the traditional sculpture garden. Originally intended as a place to find rest and enjoy beauty, Bijl’s sculpture garden will have a rather more unsettling effect. Just as Porn, the Groninger Museum acquires (parts of) this work for its own collection.
The Exhibition Marc Bijl. Urban Gothic is compiled by Sue-an van der Zijpp (curator for contemporary art) and Mark Wilson (chief curator).
The book, Marc Bijl. In case you didn’t feel like showing up is available at the exhibition. ISBN 978-90-5662-2. Price: €24.50
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