What happens when a painter decides to start an exchange project with a photographer?
Van Hoef's work is under development, yet he wanted a new impulse. The process in painting usually takes place in the isolation of the studio. There the impressions and ideas are processed in a specific theme, with a specific technique. The development consists in that the theme and technique are tried out, improved, slightly modified and repeated again. Until the theme has been worked out in that particular way, it has been completed and there is nothing left to add. And then - sometimes with a long interruption - something new comes about. And the process starts again. In his progress, painting is actually varying on a theme. Many painters work in series, or there is a certain 'period' in their work afterwards.
Van Hoef was looking for a break through of this cycle. He sought an artistic impulse from outside. It is improvised as music with more musicians: the pattern is fixed, at least one knows each other's background, repertoire and often the way of playing.
Within that pattern of the more or less familiar, an unpredictable result develops because the musicians react to each other and that result is richer than when playing solo.Something similar is involved in the project of the painter Marcel van Hoef and the photographer Theo Derksen. Marcel van Hoef has known the photographer Theo Derksen for some time. Derksen took care of him, among other things, the photography of the catalog of his exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Roermond in 2003.
The procedure they have followed is special. Each started at the same time with a work. The one with a photo, the other with a painting. Then they gave this work to each other with a request for a response. And they have exchanged this reaction again and they have asked for a reaction, and so on. They have taken three months for that. This resulted in two series of 16 works consisting of 8 photos and 8 paintings in four years.
Life as if you are always on the road
Marcel van Hoef and Theo Derksen make their art from a common base, reality shows itself to them as an image, something to look at. The painter and photographer make a selection from this.
Both place reality in a framework. And in the selection they have a shared predilection that you could call a common theme: that is the question of what change is.
For van Hoef, that is the fascination for metamorphosis, the slow, sometimes sudden, transformation of a place. He named the exhibition and catalog of 2003 Genius Loci, the spirit or nature of the place: it is true that things can change at or in one place, but there remains a certain kind of presence. Shadows often appear in his paintings, which, if you look at them, give the impression of the moment and at the same time suggest a standstill of time, the time is frozen in it or solidifies. But shadows do not stand still, they are on the contrary very temporary, shadows literally change within a minute. The gardens, the fragments or the cut-outs of a built-up environment or a landscape, all of them frozen are at least silent, almost immobile. The experience of time or its absence is his theme.
Theo Derksen shares with Marcel the fascination for change. He travels a lot, his photography bears witness to that. Yet his photography is not a documentary travel report. It is wonder. Not the surprise of the tourist "look at something weird, very different from us", but the wonder of a child who sees and does not attach a meaning to it, but who is already looking very lightly wondering what this may be and continues to do without giving an equal answer. The child has the wondered look.
We see people in Derksen's photography in situations that are not specific to one specific place. You do not know what or where it is. And even on closer inspection, an unambiguous meaning is to be expected. The effect is that you keep looking. Like a child. That is how Theo Derksen looks. He looks as if he is traveling, even when he is at home. It is an art to live as if one is always traveling. Meanings are not fixed, but shift. They change over time, but also by changing places, by traveling. Opening yourself up to a world in which meanings change, that seems to be what Derksen poses to himself and the viewer. The combination, I would like to say the combination, with the painting of Marcel van Hoef reinforces the searching and questioning character of his photography.
Drs. R. Hoekstra, Curator Museum Roermond