Iris van Dongen


23 June - 28 July 2018


For the second edition of Nieuw Amsterdams Peil, the association of galleries in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam was expanded from six to nine galleries. Under the title ‘Veracht den burgerman, doch ledig zijne kruiken’ (‘Despise the solid burgherman, but drink deep of his flagon’), Joost Declercq, director of Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens – in Sint Martens-Latem in Belgium – and curator Charlotte Crevits, co-curated an exhibition comprised of nine duo presentations. For this reason alone, NAP is unparalleled; the only project of its kind in the world, in which galleries unite in a format to share the costs and reap the rewards. Presenting programs with a strong emphasis on experiment and innovation, the nine galleries hold a unique position in the international art world.

Iris van Dongen (1975, Tilburg) is a Dutch artist who works in Berlin. Although van Dongen’s oeuvre is built around the classic genre of the portrait, her approach is entirely contemporary. Her subjects, on the whole, are women, whom she depicts in a melancholic, introspective or absent frame of mind. Created using gouache and pastel chalk on paper or canvas, the works are highly realistic and minutely detailed. In many instances, the figures are life size, which triggers a confrontational, almost uncomfortable, dialogue between the subject and the viewer. The exhibition features a new series of works alongside the work of Thomas Lerooy. Both artists share an interest in death, temporality and the darker acets of human existence, which each explores in an intensely personal visual language.

In his work, the Belgian artist Thomas Lerooy (1981, Roeselare) repeatedly explores motifs and themes, shapes, materials and colors. A fervid imagination conjures marriages between seemingly incompatible elements – fragments of the here and now mingle with references to art history, folklore or science with an almost dreamlike energy. With its flawless technical execution, monumental presence and use of materials such as bronze and marble, his sculptural work makes reference to classical sculpture. References to the Belgian art tradition, such as the Surrealism of René Magritte and the Symbolism of artists like Léon Spilliaert, are never far away. Key themes in his oeuvre are mortality, the brevity of life and regeneration. Lerooy’s works are permeated by a sense of melancholy and perform an agile balancing act between poetry and irony.