Conceptual artist Daniel van Straalen (1987) is appropriating the master of art rip-offs, Richard Prince. No Rasta literally takes the Rastafarian out
September’s featured artist Thomas van Linge (1989) likes to translate pretty complex, abstract theories (about the universe and existence, or nature vs culture, to name but a few) into well-constructed statements. Though his works might appear grand gestures, ultimately van Linge finds the personal in the universal, and delivers subtle, characteristic objects. His new work will be on display (and for sale!) at Unfair Amsterdam during the weekend of 18 – 21 September. There will be plenty of awesome art to behold at the fair and the artist himself will be present, so go shake hands with Handsome Thomas, and tell him we said hi.
Who are you?
Wouldn’t I love to know that? My name is Thomas van Linge, I’m a 25 year old artist that lives in the Netherlands but not specifically in one city. I’ve been moving around quite a bit lately, switching between Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague mostly. I’m also a DJ that goes by the names Handsome Thomas and White Male and I am the co-founder of BAKK; a The Hague based electronic music platform and record label that hosts a radio show on Intergalactic FM and throws some rad raves from time to time.
How are you?
I’m currently in the South of France enjoying my morning poolside coffee, so I’d say I’m doing more than fine. 2014 has been real good to me. A little over a month ago I did a solo show at Gallery Rianne Groen that was well received. She gave me the freedom to basically do whatever I wanted in the gallery, which was great. I also got the news that I’m starting a post-graduate at the EKWC, a ceramics residency in Den Bosch in the beginning of September. With both the Mondrian Fund and Stroom Den Haag supporting me, this is going to be a great chance to really explore the medium and experiment with new shapes and ideas.
Next to that there’s also the second edition of Unfair coming up which is really exciting. This was for me one of the best exhibiting experiences of 2013 so I’m looking forward to working together with my friends again on this great fair.
Can you tell me something about the work you’re showing at Unfair this year? And do you approach this year’s edition differently than you did last time?
I’d say it’s very much in line with the work I’ve shown last year, but it’s definitely different. Last November I finished a short track residency at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. At the time I was struggling with my work and found it really difficult to get to something without it becoming some conceptual puzzle. Only after De Ateliers I managed to turn my experience there in to something useful. Now I’m working much more intuitively with the imagery I’ve collected in my work throughout the last few years and I’m experiencing a freedom I haven’t felt in a little while. I guess that the main difference in comparison to last year is that I’m surprising myself much more rather than trying to think of something perfect from scratch.
It seems you like to tackle big subjects in your work. Can you explain what attracts you to these ideas?
I’ve always been fascinated with the relationship between contemporary society and the natural world and how to define a balance between the two. I use my work to reframe or manipulate certain ideas we have about reality and our relation to nature and the universe. Nowadays we tend to relate to nature through culture rather than directly experiencing it. In western society nature surrounds us through advertising, commercials, Wikipedia, stock photography etc. constantly. I have questions about how we use nature almost as something to be consumed. Perhaps we can even replace it with something artificial or create the illusion of it and it can be just as good. How far can we move away from an object’s actual state until it becomes something different and what is the role of the artist in this? I guess I am drawn to “big themes” as you call it, because it’s my interest as an artist, but my quest as a person.
How personal is your work? It feels very analytical and objective. Is this a conscious effort?
It is definitely something I am aware of, yes. For me the starting point of a work however feels very personal. It is always a personal fascination or a certain connection or contradiction that grasps me and invites me to really dive in to it. It’s only later in the process of working that the objects start moving away from me, and start heading more towards the unknown. This is the place where it gets exciting for me.
Anything exciting coming up, besides Unfair, which is of course, extremely exciting. But anything else, art-wise, exhibitions, collaborations, residencies?
As mentioned before I’m starting a residency at Sundaymorning@EKWC through the Mondrian Fund, which will last until the beginning of December. Right after that I’m heading for Szczecin in Poland to do a solo exhibition in the Zona Gallery. Aurelia Nowak who just finished De Apple Gallerist Programme is becoming the new director there and I think it’s going to be a very inspiring place. The plan is to show some recent works and the results of the ceramic residency there.