Navigation is the first solo exhibition of Lennart Lahuis at Dürst Britt & Mayhew, in The Hague. The work of this Dutch artist spans diverse media and reference points: the work’s aesthetic practice holds on the transformation of imagery, and studies the suspension of visual information and physical touch.
A systematic mapping has taken over the gallery space: a large-scale work entitled Room2Rooms (2012-2013), made of transparent foil and wood, seems to function as a division point for the gallery, helping the visitor to navigate through the exhibition. The gaze is instantly drawn towards this piece, when its reflective silvered surface delivers the feeling of unattainable, yet at the same time constructing a presence with an immediate gravity. A myriad of layers consisting of transparent plastic foil has been added on a background made of wood: this gesture unfolds almost an endless replica, and the initial transparency develops into its opposite. The result is a surface that doesn’t seem to provide any access, with a mirrored image reflecting the visitor.
This work offers an optical dialogue with the piece in the middle of the gallery floor, entitled Wet Scene Study no. IV (2015) made of water on stone, a work that seems to dissolve somewhere on the gallery’s concrete floor. This is a part of his ongoing series Wet Scenes, which takes the form of liquid paintings: for this work, the artist has borrowed literary extracts from different contexts, proposing thus stories with situated knowledge in the gallery space. The elements create a complimentary whole: simultaneously, when the stone as a background suggests pressure and weight, the water ends up lingering at the brink of absence, with its evaporation through time. Respectively, the work draws also the attention on the importance of touch, or its suspension: the disappearing words bear the fragility, when its union with the stone is rather an ephemeral and limited one.
Keen to experiment with different techniques, Lahuis’ most recent series of work focuses on the process of transforming imagery. For this work, the artist has selected several standard reproductions of images, ones coming with picture frames and serving as examples: this type of model images depicting sunsets, cityscapes and reproductions of famous artworks are meant to be instantly replaced by the buyer’s own visual choice. The artist has approached these images with a reversed technique, by applying wax and paper on glass: the atypical order between image and paper resulting from the technique establishes an ensemble where the image is drawn back, creating thus a certain distance and inaccessibility for the viewer.
For Navigation, the artist has concentrated on standard models displaying different measuring devices, for example images featuring grids on architectural facades and compasses. In parallel, the choice to work also with reproductions of renowned art works creates an interesting layer: both of these themes seem easily disposable when placed in standard frames. In Lahuis’ work, the relationship between images representing traditional, or more commercial visual culture and the ones coming from personal selection, is put forward in an intriguing way. Moreover, the artist’s interest towards the presence of digital media unfolds in this series, when printed material with physically layered information has served as a starting point: a careful recomposition of pictorial elements stands as a result, while the hyperdensity of the original prints drifts into cooler temperatures. In order to gain access to the suggested visual information and communication contained in this work, the viewer is invited to slow down and to contemplate the imagery in an indirect way.
In his work, Lahuis opens the door for the unexpected, when working extensively on the texture itself: respectively, the material sees itself transformed into a medium. The exhibition reveals how the technique used by Lahuis imposes a certain distance, while proposing a meditation behind the façade with its impalpable surface. At the end, Navigation suggests a route to be followed, with a crossroads where the physical space and the navigating body confront each other.
Lennart Lahuis (1986, Hengelo) graduated from the Artez Institute of the Arts in Zwolle in 2011. In 2010 he attended LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. From 2011 to 2013 he was a resident at de Ateliers in Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include Prospects and Concepts in the Van Nelle Fabriek in Rotterdam, Asleep Finger in Kunstraum Düsseldorf and False Light at Apice for Artists in Amsterdam. Lennart Lahuis currently lives and works in Paris.
Navigation on view until May 23.