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Art Rotterdam
James Collins, Thomas Hämén, Tom Volkaert, Tom Howse, Wolfgang Voegele
8th - 11th February, 2018



Rod Barton is pleased to present James Collins, Thomas Hämén, Tom Howse, Wolfgang Voegele and Tom Volkaert for our booth presentation at Art Rotterdam. The five artists present a varied and unique breadth of practice that showcases the gallery’s diverse portfolio of practice. Our presentation, featuring painting, mixed media practice and sculpture invokes a consistent oscillation between two necessary states of being within an artist’s process. The inevitability of play and the importance of taking oneself seriously.

James Collins is an artist who is often characterised as a painter with a capital P.  Collins’ paintings combine interests in relationship-oriented sensibilities towards painting; and pragmatic, structure-based organisation of imagery. Tonal Values and material weight carry huge significance on the operation of painting. Heavy positive and negative nascent forms are built, subverting carved impasto lines creating a dialogue of contrasting methods. Like looking through the reverse of a stained glass window, Collins’ paintings act as realms of concealment where his plastic-like oils create an undulating fog that subvert our gaze as well as directing it.

Thomas Hämén’s artistic practice extends from the type of objects which bridge the fictive and the actual; the cerebral and the physical, and open up unexpected conduits between memory, experience and time. In his work he dissects the convoluted relationships between humans, non-humans and technology in western culture. In a playful yet sincere spirit he investigates how evolutionary systems and natural histories are preserved and developed within popular culture and in contemporary life.

Tom Howse is an artist whose aesthetic lends itself to the experimental and the otherworldly. His painting’s, whilst singular in their presentation, all belong to a shared visual vocabulary. Perspective is utilised via shifting flat planes, as opposed to a singular vanishing point, that allow for the feeling of moving through a singular world. We subsequently cross through into a whole new universe at each plane of the paintings existence. The artist’s application of paint is rough without straying into the violent. Allowing for air bubbles, ephemeral studio matter and increasingly rough canvas surfaces. We know what we’re looking at, yet we cannot fathom the world in which it sits.

Wolfgang Voegele’s practice divert us into a world where the making of a mark can function just as effectively as obscure symbols, unclear depictions and reminiscent compositions. Held together by Voegele’s dedication to walking the tightrope between the figurative and abstract, the paintings and sculptures enact a dialogic, idiosyncratic conversation in which simplicity and accessibility belie a complexity and morphology that is indicative of the artist’s oeuvre.

Conversely, Tom Volkaert’s practice is distinctive through its liberal use of humour and grotesque anthropomorphic dialogue. Volkaert’s enigmatic and characteristically humorous forms stem from playful and curious introspection into commonplace materials, pushing the boundaries of a certain material to the point of fracture. These are deliberately emphasised rather than concealed giving each piece a historical individuality, accompanied by the artist’s mischievous, tongue-in-cheek approach to making. In a practice where a ceramic glaze becomes moistened skin and an armature becomes a tentacled limb, Volkaert’s practice is seemingly alive with Frankensteinian mischief.

Each artist seek to locate and resolve the position of a viewers relationship with their subject of interest. Whether practicing abstraction to the point of a complete lack of depiction, or figurative yet indistinguishable figures, our presentation showcases the process in which young artists are locating their practice within the 21st century discourse of dialogic questioning and repositioning.