Folkert de Jong
Gott Mit Uns
Kunsthalle Winterthur, CH
5 Mar – 23 Apr 2006
Since his breakthrough in 2001, the Dutch artist Folkert de Jong has been building chaotic scenes using insulating materials like Styro-foam, which was developed by the Americans during the Second World War to improve the buoyancy of life rafts. In Winterthur, De Jong has transformed these unusual materials, including similar industrial products that are often used in Hollywood to increase the credibility of the illusion on the film set, into a group of pastel coloured figures of soldiers and abstract sculptures.
Folkert de Jong has been concerning himself more and more with an investigation into sculpture. The absence of the traditional heaviness of marble and bronze offers room for new issues regarding form and content. In Gott Mit Uns, De Jong introduces abstract sculptures copied from early modernist works by Hans Arp and Brancusi. He transforms these forms into the very tactile materials of rubber and plastic. In losing their autonomy during the material transformation, the question arises as to how these pure and unassailable abstract sculptures relate to the reality of the world outside the museum.
In the rear space of the Kunsthalle, several huge heads on metres high pedestals watch over the scene. A closer look reveals that the pedestals and heads are based on the PEZ pocket sweet dispensers familiar to most Germans. A portrait gallery of dubious icons, idols or influential leaders who have earned their status through important victories; a powerful sculptural manifestation that is meant to remind people of how much has been gained but in fact concealed, how much has been lost under the religious motto ‘God with us’.