Greene Naftali is pleased to present the first US exhibition of legendary Dutch artist Daan van Golden, organized for the gallery by Anne Pontégnie. Renowned and celebrated in the Netherlands since the sixties, he remains largely unknown in America—no doubt helping van Golden develop his reputation as an artist’s artist of the highest order. In its own manner, van Golden’s art ties into the longstanding tradition of Dutch painting with its optical precision and patient distillation of reality into image. His strict, non-inventive imagery and studied magnifications prioritize close observation over imaginative invention as he indexes and enhances what would be fleetingly glimpsed aspects of art and life. This refocusing of the real poses an almost utopian proposition in art’s reflective mediation, not unlike the canvases of other Dutch masters, from Vermeer to Mondrian.
In the early 60’s van Golden developed a painting style based on appropriation. He began by using motifs derived from quotidian objects, such as decorative paper and fabrics, and subsequently turned to themes from the history of art. These images and forms are then painted with an exacting precision, achieving an eccentrically flawless surface. While formally simple, these translations enact a broad range of artistic strategies—pop and photorealism, structural and conceptual art, minimalism and abstraction—without belonging entirely to any. Along with the paintings themselves, van Golden has often considered his own relationship to his painting practice more broadly, both by presenting his paintings in unusual installations or by not producing paintings at all—instead devoting years at a time to photographing his daughter.
For our current exhibition, details from Pollock, birds from Matisse, sculptures from the 19th and 20th century and fabric patterns are translated into paintings whose contemplation and precision testify to van Golden’s labored process, which keeps his production to only four or five paintings per year. With two exceptions, a periwinkle canvas and a black and white Pollock, all the paintings in the show are cadmium red on white primed canvas. As a part of his conceptual project, van Golden allows himself to paint up to four of the exact same painting, further extending the central aspects of duplication and meditation inherent in his work.
In addition, two photographs accompany these paintings, each a silhouette: a hazy rephotographed painting of Mozart, and a bird’s wing by Dürer given a human nose by van Golden. The playful interruptions to the iconic character of these portraits outline the irreverent treatment of artistic norms.
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.