Soft Focus Institute at Independent Brussels 2016.
“You’re all cats, and so am I. What happens when you try to give your cat some love? They give you a backwards glance, then rub affectionately on the furniture and ignore you. All artists place a third thing – a piece of furniture (i.e. our ART) between us and the world, in order to receive love. How f’d up is that?? To you, your art is like a dog. It can shit on the floor, slobber on your leg, or ruin your life. You love it so much it hurts. But to everybody else, it’s a piece of furniture and it’s in the way.” - Jerry Saltz
Soft Focus Institute is pleased to present a collaboration out of love. Marijke and Clive met in October of 2015 shortly after Marijke discovered Clive’s beautiful paintings.Two kindred spirits emerged. Cats, humour, romanticism, irony and the puzzles of art & life. Triggered by Clive’s personal surrounding and his wit, human and poignant attitude as an artist, Marijke decided to make a tribute to him and his cats. A new sculpture by De Roover is placed in front of paintings by Hodgson. Both artists tackle concepts concerning identity, failure and the artist ego in different but connecting ways.
‘As a cat I simply think that working with sculpture is lots of fun. There are so many new things to learn, and being intimate with humans in this way makes me think quite differently. Some human identities are carved through the creation of a familiar human-pet dynamic involving both affection and dominance, captivity and care. This has been translated into art for ages. But the times they are a-changing. The physical world – the space I am in, the stuff I use, my crafting skills and the materials – become a decisive parameter in my work. However, I don’t feel like materials and spatial exploration are enough. I have other interests merging with these concerns. What role does the body play in learning and understanding things in the world? And what about fun? What are the borders of identity construction. I think therefore I play.I think therefore I can become anything.. really.’- Marijke De Roover
‘I needed two kinds of cat food and kitty litter so I picked up a box of popsicles so the check out girl wouldn’t suspect that I’m a cat’ (2016) is a video displayed on an iPad held by two human hands that reach from a mutated Kitty Scratch Pole. Special soothing music for cats aims to attract joy & peace and evokes a suburban ‘streetfeel’ whilst the narration is conceived as a paranoid internal monologue. Healthy Human Super Foods that look like cats would love them too are placed at the bottom of the sculpture so they are easy to reach for anyone who wants to get some. A doggy waste bag is tied to a fox tale as if it were a Jerry Saltz metaphor. Play-Doh is used to replace the scratchy parts of the pole so it becomes dysfunctional and the % of chance the work will get destroyed by your pet shrinks to basically zero. Art is useless unless it’s fun.
De Roover focuses on the meaning of identities and the performative aspect of their creation. In previous projects she has researched grass roots politics and the relation between presidential campaigning and Greek Theatre (‘You can’t spell America w/o me, 2013), how identities exist on the internet in relation tot pop culture (#TheSelfieSong, 2013), Mormon Lifestyle and musical (A Mitt Summer Night’s Dream, 2014) and the cult of health (Is bio the new avant garde, 2015).
Clive Hodgson started as an abstract painter, switched to figuration, then turned back to abstraction after his distaste for narrative and object-based painting grew. Now he makes paintings within which he takes up ideas about painting itself. His touch is light and compositions airy and loose. His forms and marks feel impulsive yet locked in by virtue of their gestural authority. His paintings privilege both their date of making and the artist’s name or signature as prominent and recurring motifs. Hodgson aligns the melancholic daily realities of On Kawara with a decidedly informal take on formalism reminiscent of the late Raoul De Keyser and a humouristic intelligence of Walter Swennen. The mysterious terms in which a painting succeeds or fails (or both simultaneously) are themselves partly the object of the work’s investigations.
Clive Hodsgon is based in London and has exhibited his work extensively since the 1980s. Recent solo & duo exhibitions include: Clive Hodgson & Matthew Higgs, Wilkinson Gallery, London (UK); at White Columns, New York, 2014; and at Carlton Place, Glasgow, 2012. His work was recently included in group exhibitions at Murray Guy, New York (US); The Approach, London (UK); Timothy Taylor Gallery, London (UK) and Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (BE).
Marijke De Roover (1990, BE) lives & works in Ghent (BE). She graduated from KASK School of Arts, Ghent (BE) where she was nominated for the Start Point Prize, Prague (CZ). Her work has been included in various group exhibitions at amongst others European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück (DE), Broelmuseum, Kortrijk (BE) & Beursschouwburg, Brussels (BE), ‘Hamster – Hipster – Handy’ at Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt (DE), ‘Office for Doubts & Desires’, P!, New York (UK). Solo exhibitions include: ‘Did You Wake up Feeling Authentic Today? A Twitter Musical’, Arcade, London (UK) & ‘#FuckTheNewsstand2014’, Trampoline, Antwerp (BE); ‘I cried in front of literally everybody in the entire world’, CC SEAS Knokke (BE), ‘Smoothie Conference’, TTTT, Ghent (BE).