I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
'The state of things'
Johan makes things. He writes things out of paper. It all begins with an empty page.
If you want to write, you have to be able to fold. Things subsequently fall out of the folds, which is how they become words. Johan folds words out of material letters and reassembles them, so that they say something.
Not spoken words and texts, but visual texts, which are far more pliant. Not to mention friendlier, as well as more beautiful and generous. Because there's always an issue with those spoken words. Used and abused on a massive scale, they are employed to attack and deceive. Restoring their softness and refutability is a huge endeavour, rebuttal work, a waste of time.
Johan's texts look broken, which feels reassuring. They are also very hard. Layer upon layer of resins and secret powders. And continual sanding! To become self-portraits, dented bags. Boxes, tubes, and finally big things and little things, cones and pyramids and balls and spheres, sometimes with handles and bulges, overflowing layers, just to be sure there's enough!
Comforting stash. Take another one. The entire reserves of art history are online. The beauty of yesteryear is undiminished and is still understood. Only the world is a bit more dented now, although Claus Sluter's Pleurantsare as sovereign and exalted as ever in their acceptance and sorrow.
Submission in the past, anger today, fury and sorrow at stupidity and for fleeing in ignorance. Giant stocks of this have also accumulated, and little has changed since Goya. Time is running out, which drives eternity crazy. There are no more still lifes, not like there used to be.
 There are exceptions.
 Nothing mysterious, it depends on the production process.
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