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Daan van Golden

Photographs

18 December 2020 – 12 January 2021





Daan van Golden was a non-conformist in terms of both geography and his art. His work is famous in the Netherlands, but without being in any way anachronistic, it has developed at the margins of the major international styles. It is indicative that in the Sixties and Seventies the paintings of textile motifs which he did in Japan in 1964 were included in turn in the context of exhibitions devoted to Pop Art, Group Zero and American abstract painting. They could have found their place, as indeed could his later works, in exhibitions devoted to conceptual art, Minimalism or the appropriationism of the Eighties. However, their total independence of these movements is just as evident as their closeness to them.

At the end of the 1950’s van Golden as a young man worked on abstract, expressionist painting that demonstrated his interest in American painting, but also in the Cobra movement. During the period he spent in Japan from 1963 to 1964, he discovered almost by chance a method that would determine all of his work up to the present time. He started to reproduce on canvas motifs found on wrapping paper and paper hankies. Over the twenty-four months he spent in Japan, he produced twenty or so paintings using these motifs. They are characterized by grids, floral patterns and organic forms. The meticulous technique used to reproduce them as accurately and neutrally as possible required a lot of time and concentration, but had the advantage of freeing the artist from the need to draw his inspiration from a closed mental and emotional space. From then on van Golden would adhere to that position: observing and finding the subjects of his pictural practice in his daily experience of the world and art.

Formally, because they bring together major modern forms like the grid and current consumer objects, van Golden’s works are located on the European flank of Pop Art alongside Polke, Richter or Hamilton. In reality, the project that gave rise to them brings them near on the one hand to ‘attitude’ art, upstream close to the work of someone like Yves Klein or the poster artists, and downstream close to conceptual artists like Douglas Huebler or On Kawara.

The works van Golden has been developing since the end of the 1970s – paintings, editions or photographs – carry on with the method started in Japan. Heerenlux (begun in 1993 after a long break in his career) is a series based on a floral motif found on a fabric sample. Depending on the nature of the exhibitions, details of the motif are reproduced at different scales on canvases of varying sizes. In parallel, van Golden isolates a work or a detail from a work – a budgerigar found in the work of Matisse (Blauw Studie naar Matisse), a walker by Giacometti (Studie Giacometti), a drip-painting by Pollock (Studie Pollock) – and reproduces its silhouette in colour on a canvas that is otherwise left untouched. Four copies of each painting are produced. A set of works, editions or photographs accompanies this pictural practice. They form a counterpoint that again reinforces the intimate resonance van Golden constructs between art and existence. At the same time they are the product of a process equivalent to that of the paintings, insofar as they proceed through observation, then through selection, among the flow of images encountered by the artist.

Anne Pontégnie

Daan Van Golden 
Heerenlux / Dijon, 1996 – 2016
30,5 x 20,5 cm
giclee print on photo paper
Edition of 10

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Daan van Golden 
Study Pollock / One Painting, 2012
40,5 x 37 cm
giclee print on photo paper
Edition of 10

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Daan van Golden 
Mitsukoshi / Tokyo, 2012
27 x 27 cm
giclee print on photo paper
Edition of 10

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Daan van Golden 
White Painting / Two Paintings, 2012
31,5 x 32 cm
giclée print on photo paper
Edition of 10

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Daan Van Golden 
Tokyo / Dijon, 1996 / 2016
323 x 53 cm
Framed C-print (double dia) on printed paper
Edition of 1 + 2 A.P.

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AGUA AZUL

‘Art is the opposite of nature.’ Daan van Golden used this statement by Edvard Munch in his acceptance speech for the PC‑Artprice at Arti & Amicitiae in Amsterdam in 1990. Yet in the project Agua Azul that he created in Amsterdam’s Hortus Botanicus in 1987, art and nature do coincide in a single work. For the duration of Century 87 event, he sprinkled the paths of the Hortus with blue sapphire pebbles. It offered a refined contrast with the plants and flowers that stood like islands in the middle. In Agua Azul, Van Golden managed to create a new beauty with the opposing concepts of art and nature. Although the Hortus has long since been restored to its original state, Agua Azul lives on in the series of photographs that he took of the project. The result is a work with almost abstract photographs in a combination of bright colours, whimsical forms and anthropomorphous shadows. One of the pictures is a self‑portrait of the artist who had registered his own shadow set against the sapphire‑blue background of his own creation. 

Van Golden, seeing and photographing his shadow as he casts it across the stones. He is giving us a literal illustration of an artist seeing himself in his work, but it doesn’t come off as trite or clever. If anything, we can imagine that he didn’t plan this shot in advance, but rather saw his shadow on the rocks and was struck by it. As when we look at Matisse’s work, we see layers upon layers of process. We see what it took to get to a particular point. Whether the work is finished or otherwise doesn’t matter. What matters is that we see van Golden looking at himself, seeing himself as an artist, as a person, perhaps reveling in what he’s created, perhaps questioning it, but making decisions and seeing himself in these decisions.

Daan van Golden 
Agua Azul, 1987 / 2007
65,5 x 97,5 cm
Framed C-print
Edition of 10

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Daan Van Golden 
Agua Azul
blue path and trees, 1987 / 2019
31,7 x 21,7 cm
Framed C-print
Edition of 10

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Daan Van Golden 
Agua Azul
red flowers, 1987 / 2019
31,7 x 21,7 cm
Framed C-print
Edition of 10

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An emperor commissioned a group of Greek artists, and a group of Chinese artists to make a mural. There was a dividing partition so that neither could see the others’ work of art before it was finished. When the Chinese had finished, their picture was unveiled. And a couple of weeks later the Greeks finished too, and the emperor could also see their work. They only had polished their wall so that it gently mirrored the Chinese painting.

Quotation read by Daan Van Golden for his speech for the PC Art Award, 25 November 1990.

Daan Van Golden 
Agua Azul
yellow flowers, 1987 / 2019
31,7 x 21,7 cm
Framed C-print
Edition of 10

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Daan Van Golden 
Agua Azul
shadow, 1987 / 2019
31,7 x 21,7 cm
Framed C-print
Edition of 10

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