In his first solo exhibition at the Stigter van Doesburg Gallery, Thomas Raat (Leiderdorp, NL, 1979) continues investigating the grammar of the visual language, its development over time and place, and its relation to various epistemological topics. His fascination lies at the tipping point, where radical attitudes turn into conventional thinking, fact into fiction, and reality into its interpretation. In the Dynasty exhibition, the artist once again hints at various already existing concepts and structures, yet without making clear statements, and thus continues speculating on the ways in which 20th-century culture can be understood.
Within his conceptual framework, Raat perceives his works as found objects, a material for investigation, and not as something primarily created by him; even though they are all made anew, their initial conceptual roots are in the past. Using the same approach in his most recent work, the artist proposes a scenario in which the current Western society has collapsed and all knowledge and beliefs related to 20th-century culture as it is understood today have vanished. In this scenario, the remains of the recent past, the modern age, can be rediscovered, reinterpreted and recontextualised, giving it the chance to redefine itself. His process, therefore, is the one of an archaeologist, or as he calls it: ‘the imaginary excavation of a forgotten cultural landscape’. Starting from remains and building from them, he acknowledges his work will never be but an interpretation, a fragment of something that already existed - something big(ger) and unreachable.
Dynasty as a concept is fueled by excitement, evoking the kind of fascination that is not without a hint of intimidation and scepticism yet has an alluring quality to it. The eclectic combination of styles, techniques, and objects attract in a similar way, keeping one on their toes, but never fully giving. Raat’s distinct visual language makes it easy to draw a connection to particular iconic works of the 20th-century (modernist) canon and its various commercial applications, manifestations or what he refers to as ‘slipstream modernism’. And yet the works are never a one to one translation of reality but instead create space for speculation on how the latter can be understood. Their inherently elusive nature makes one have to continue, from one artwork to the next, the story changing as you go.
Thomas Raat is an artist born in Leiderdorp, the Netherlands and currently based in Amsterdam. He received his BFA at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (1997–2001) and continued his education at the Norwich School of Art and Design in 2000. He was an artist in residence at Delfina Studios (London, 2005-06) and Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Amsterdam, 2011-12) and has exhibited both in The Netherlands and abroad. Recent solo exhibitions include 'MMXIX’, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden (2019), 'Gems etc...', Circl. Art, Amsterdam (2017), ‘Standards’ Onomatopee, Eindhoven (2016), ‘Archetypes and Residues’ Schunk*, Heerlen (2015), ‘D.A.A’ Dover Street Market, Beijing (China) (2015) and ‘2.II’ ANDOR Gallery, London (UK) (2015).