Resources for Heart and Mind

Wonder and admiration are the basic notes of Job Koelewijn's new solo show at Galerie Fons Welters. His exhibition combines two different movements of time.

On the one hand, it is a snapshot: works produced in the last three years that, with their compressed but vigorous speech acts, sometimes literally grasp a moment and inspire it. Other works indicate the long duration: the so-called Reliefs - on which JK started working roughly 15 years ago - literally form a reflection of all kinds of books he read.

Since 1 February 2006, Job Koelewijn starts his working day by reading out loud. “In the morning I put on the tracksuit ...”, he says about this exercise. He records his reading and replays it, so that what has been read sinks in and starts to resonate. He chooses books by writers, philosophers and scientists - Joyce, Spinoza, Darwin, S. de Beauvoir, Susan Sontag, Simone Weil, among others - with content that challenges him and stimulates his understanding. His first Relief (analogue) covers the period of February 1, 2006 - March 24, 2009 and consists of books, audio cassettes (90 min.) and a wall construction with the stacks; the Reliefs now also exist in digital form.

Texts are written in the gallery space. On the back wall in sober-hallucinatory writing: Be Realistic Plan for a Miracle. On a monitor, a hoop with Passion Without Motive - a concept of Krishnamurti - spins around a dancer's belly. On a sidewall Passion is written again, four times, each time one size bigger. Poetry Account Balance comprises publications of one single poem that is repeated. Relevant for the understanding of all these works is the term 'mantra': a mind-protecting spell that expands consciousness through repetition. On the wall of JK's studio is an explanation: "3 stages of the subtle body / the external (voiced audibly) / transition (soft, barely audible) / inner (repeated in silence in the mind)."

Portraits of writers, philosophers and scientists, plus artists like Malevich -made with the laser engraving machine - hang on the wall. This pantheon of personalities who have contributed substantially to culture is a homage. It indicates that JK sees himself as a 'servant of tradition' who wants to share ideas of others. The reference to thinkers and makers is remarkable, there are many voices in this exhibition. Unlike his first gallery exhibitions from the 1990s that celebrated emptiness and stillness, today it is a polyphonic event. 

All works are sober and functional, it  vibrates beneath the surface. This can easily be illustrated. Take Poetry Account Balance, for example. Each poem in a publication is accompanied by this information: "So many lines, so many minutes of reading time". In the meantime, such a poem naturally reveals much more to anyone who reads it, through clarity and suggestion, and various emotions stored in it. 

This entire exhibition is like a charged image in which Existence and Making Art are as it were presented as equivalent and experimental actions. The central question concerns how to invigorate the spirit - or methodically direct the passion - every day a new.

[Mark Kremer]