Stigter Van Doesburg is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Daniel van Straalen at the gallery.
The work of Van Straalen is not bound to a particular medium, but can be whatever he thinks is best for what he wants to say. From a stack of empty pizza boxes to a washing machine to the logo of Nike, all can be used for his questions involving ownership, appropriation and the not knowing. Next to the images, Van Straalen borrows from popular culture, mixing high and low, he’s a frequent user of elements from existing works of art, mostly those that have an iconic status already, and translating them into his own vocabulary. Self-reflection lies at the core of his being as an artist.
How to determine the moment when an artwork begins to 'exist’? Is this moment in the conception, or the execution of, or in the reflection upon the work? The work David (2014) can be viewed as a clear example of this idea. By assessing John Baldessari's strategies, some of the features he uses in his work lodged themselves in his head. Van Straalen used this to create an interplay between several of his 'successful' elements in terms of objects. The result being a three dimensional dot on the head of Michelangelo's David. This work can exist in the three moments; conceptually combining Baldessari's dots to his own work, executing the work in a space, and the viewers reflecting upon the work as being a three dimensional 'Baldessari dot.' The loop between origin and outcome becomes visible.
In Refrigerators and other multiple verticals Van Straalen explores this idea further. In the work ‘Hair do’, he suggests our hair might be an extension of our brains. In other works present in the show, like ‘Energy falling down the tree’ and ‘Thinking sucks’, the artist manipulates contemporary icons like Beavis and Butt-head or the energy drink Monster Energy until they lose their previous identity and become merely artworks.
Van Straalen says about his working method: ‘By reinterpreting not entire works but merely certain features, they become deconstructed into fragments that I want to consider my own, a substitute to the original. This process is virtually always intuitive as I research artist's work until I am drawn to a particular quote, feature, or method that keeps attention.’
This is exactly what distinguishes Van Straalen from most of his fellow appropriators. It’s not the appropriation itself, but the way it’s used by Van Straalen that turns the final work into a dialogue.