11 Mar – 6 May 2022
TMH is pleased to return to the medium of painting with the exceptional work of the Dutch artist BEPPIE GIELKENS. The title Painting Otherwise refers to Gielkens’s singular view of her métier developed over five decades of artistic dedication. Her life, split between her studio in the North of Friesland and long stays in Egypt, is intrinsically tied to her paintings; and so is life in general—impossible otherwise, that is, without painting.
In her work, Gielkens is forever inspired by Egypt where she spent parts of nearly every year between 1986 and 2008. Two older works in the show are fascinating in tracing the artist’s personal trajectory in relation to the iconography that descends to art from Egyptian tombs and walls. With Gielkens, the ancient symbols of language (and lofty power) end up boldly defeated by accident-prone lines and luminous, invented colors. Wasn’t ancient Egypt invented by the Egyptians and reinvented by us?
The show centers on Gielkens’s latest works, where the creative energies of the reimagined past converge with a surprising and entirely new creative method. While coping with personal crises—the end of her Egyptian stays were followed by a serious illness and the pandemic—Gielkens came to the conclusion that color in her rendition can be profound and moving as such.
From the point of view of form, the new paintings (tempera on cotton) purposely differ in size, color mix, and patterns. Their colors are so rich and uncanny, and textures so lush, that they can be interpreted as intimate kingdoms of a new and different world, a world defined by new and different geometries. These works are unquestionably state-of-the art exploration of the perceptual and painterly attributes of color. In a very personal take on the physicality of painting, they open deep and unexpected relations that would remain invisible and unknown to us otherwise.
For the prolific painter Beppie Gielkens (1942, NL), idiosyncratic color and line constitute a powerful narrative structure that continuously invites new readings. Already in the late 1980s, art writer Huub Mous defined her work as an “intuitive urge to rearrange and order, in a new connection.” Gielkens studied at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht and had her first solo show in Maastricht as early as in 1971. She has since continued to have regular shows with Dutch galleries and participated in group exhibitions with the Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, and Museum Belvédere, Heerenveen. Between 1986 and 2008, a large part of her oeuvre was made during extended stays in Egypt, where she received artistic acclaim, including shows at the Fine Arts Gallery / Cairo Opera House in 1989 and the Mashrabia Gallery in 1994. In 1979, Gielkens and her husband, the artist André de Jong, moved to Friesland, where they established independent studios.