Levi van Veluw is a Dutch contemporary artist recognised for his drawings, photographs, sculptures, and immersive installations that explore the human fascination with scientific regulation, spiritual beliefs, and symbols.Read More
Van Veluw was born in The Bible-belt of the Netherlands, with a grandfather who was a minister, and has been fascinated with the church and its rituals since his early youth. After graduating from the ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem, in 2007, van Veluw taught in the photography department at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam between 2009 and 2010.
Though diverse in medium, van Veluw's works are often characterised by repetition, whether of material, pattern, colour, or shape. At the heart of van Veluw's practice is an inquiry into alternate realities, that run in close parallel to our own, as determined by science, culture, or religion. His work consistently attempts to offer new knowledge and a fresh perspective on various existential dilemmas.
Van Veluw garnered attention for his early self-portraits, in which the artist covers his face and body in pieces of natural or artificial materials in an exploration of transformation. The photographs belonging to the 'Landscape' series render van Veluw unrecognisable, hidden behind gravel, sterling wood, or moss, among others; in the 'Ballpoint' series, the artist's skin is in the process of becoming overtaken by blue ballpoint pen drawings of puzzle pieces or spirals. Another self-portrait series from 2009 shows him glowing blue in the dark, having been covered in stripes and pieces of light generating foil.
While van Veluw's self-portraits were not initially autobiographical, the artist went on to draw from his family and childhood memories in Origins of the Beginning. The multimedia series, begun in 2011, consists of videos, photographs, and installations, among them three life-sized rooms whose interiors were entirely covered with wooden blocks, slats, and balls.
Members of the artist's family, including van Veluw himself, appear clad in wooden blocks from head to toe in the video Family (2012). The figures sit around a long table, occasionally making small movements but never engaging in dialogue; in the midst of claustrophobic silence, the artist has described the repetition of small wooden blocks as an attempt to find control.
The repetition of small units has continued in van Veluw's practice as a reflection of human desire for control and regulation. The Relativity of Matter, his solo exhibition at the Marres House for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, in 2016, saw the artist construct a maze within the museum building. Upon entering the labyrinth, the viewer was prompted to navigate through corridors and rooms with ordered or disorganised tall shelves—housing tens of thousands of small geometric objects—and to speculate on their symbolic significance.
Van Veluw also creates sculptures and immersive installations that are evocative of religious symbols in an examination of the human tendency to assign significant meaning to objects. The large-scale rectangular installation Chapel (2017), for example, houses within its blue walls an altar made up of grids and openings, with an opening in the ceiling letting light into the interior.
Chapel was the centrepiece for Veneration, van Veluw's solo exhibition at La Galerie Particulière, Paris, in 2017, which also featured wooden sculptures consisting of intricate geometric shapes such as the circular Guide of Veneration and the octagonal Sanctum (both 2017).
Levi van Veluw has shown his works in solo and group exhibitions internationally.
Solo exhibitions include: Rijksmuseum Twente, The Netherlands (2020); Beyond Matter, Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam (2019); The Relativity of Matter, Marres House of Contemporary Culture, Maastricht (2016).
Group exhibitions include: The Landscape: From Arcadia to the Urban, rosenfeld, London (2021); Fotogallerie Wien, Austria (2018); Centraal Museum Utrecht, The Netherlands (2016); Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, The Netherlands (2015).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2022