The complexity and variation of time and improvisation are obsessions that dominate Andrée van Schaik's artistic practice, which ranges from music, poetry to visual arts. Van Schaik's solo show at Neon Parc City exhibits experiments with both photographic images and oil painting. Without an obvious theme, the show suggests the spontaneity of production in each artwork.
Fully embracing a personal lens, the artist selects and assembles her primary visual sources from magazines and books, turning the photographic collages into oil paintings. Partial human figures, designed patterns of textile, architecture, etc., are juxtaposed within the picture frames in a vivid and balanced palette. Just as van Schaik converts musical notes into jazz, she also improvises with converting mundane photographic sources into semi-abstract oil paintings. Pieces of photographs are employed as if letters and musical notes, serving as building blocks for her free expression.
Does improvisation allow a heroic and free expression? Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan suggested that the internal ambivalence of human consciousness is in fundamental contradiction with our external steadiness. According to this theory, people are by their very nature incapable of fully expressing themselves. Nevertheless, improvisation allows a space for freeing the self as it is a form that pursues not just speaking the conscious but also the unconscious. The existential truth that human souls are always covered by could then be partially eased by the improvisational gesture.
What words fail to convey are rendered by van Schaik's choice of colour and visual elements. From teenage melancholy to the affinities of a suburban house, the artist takes each moment of sentiment as a point of revelation. While the artist has also explored new mediums such as 3D studio practice while at VCA, photography, collage and painting have surpassed the former for their graduated characteristics.
If time interests van Shaik, it is also essential for her work through the contemplation of her relation to time in space. The time encapsulated in each photographic source and personal memory, the time taken for decision making, and the time to translate collage into oil painting: the imbued complexity and variation of time in van Schaik's works suggest an aim towards the existential question of self-being.
The artist is also fond of Matisse. This is evident not only in her use of line, composition, and sometimes vivid tones, but also in the sense of her humility. As Matisse sought to produce art that only pleases the eyes, van Schaik presents her work as just a small part of the process of solving an internal problem, like working through a mathematical equation. As she humbly attempts small and partial achievements, the answer towards the question is rendered possible within an improvised joie de vivre.
Yi Fu is a writer and curator.
Title image: Andrée van Schaik, The Glance, 2019, Oil on canvas, 50.5 x 40.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Neon Parc.