“Song of the Whales” is written in elegant letters on the canvas. It is such a typical element by Marjolijn de Wit. You look, and hear in your head all the gentle roars of mating humpback whales, once a popular soundtrack for New Age yoga parties. At the same time, you realize how annoying it is that this sound is captured on vinyl, a product made from environmentally unfriendly petroleum. As always in De Wit's work, culture and nature are in conflict, but they also merge. So much so that it never becomes completely clear where one ends and the other begins.
De Wit has been an established name in Dutch painting for twenty years. After winning the Royal Prize for Painting in 2007 and subsequently the Rijksakademie residency, she was completely 'hot'. Her last solo show in the Netherlands was four years ago. In 2019, a ceramic installation was on display in Arti. That work was a result of two work periods in the European Ceramic Work Center, where she had changed working with paint and canvas for clay and oven.
The experiences with ceramics are reflected in the new work that is now on display at Galerie Gerhard Hofland. Pieces of stone can be recognized everywhere. Their gritty structure contrasts nicely with diamond shapes with a color gradient, flowers, leaves, a bird's tail here, a utensil there. It is not always clear how the layers relate to each other, what is the foreground and what is the background. The image collages are more like a kaleidoscope than tectonic plates. The paintings are “search pictures” without the reward of a solution. Nevertheless, or for that reason, you will want to come back after a first viewing. That also has to do with De Wit’s virtuous control with paint. Nowhere does one see hesitation by the artist, with which her wet-on-wet technique should yield a dirty mess. The artist must have thought out every detail in advance before concentrating completely on the technical implementation. This is what makes the paintings look very 'finished', but it is also the self-confidence of a painter that knowingly leads us into the maze.*
*English translation is courtesy of Marjolijn de Wit.
Digital tour of the exhibition is available here.