Dutch artist Berend Strik (1960) has worked in different disciplines over the past twenty years; ranging from sculptural and architectural to two dimensional works. Although we often still refer to disciplines, it is perhaps more suitable to speak of visual art when discussing Strik’s works. For visual art plays on traditions, can take on many forms and is not tied to one medium. The embroideries the artist has been making since 1988 seem to balance on these traditions while adding to their understanding. As art critic Sven Lütticken noted: “Strik’s embroideries are a drastically mutated painting that has been completely infiltrated by the conditions of the generic, post-disciplinary visual art. It is irreparably improved, mutated almost beyond recognition.”
As Lütticken explains, these embroidered works on the one hand break with the traditional painting, yet on the other hand are still presented in a rectangular manner hanging on the walls. Strik bases his works on existing photographs and with this the ‘mutated paintings’ receive yet another dimension. The reproducibility of the photograph is undermined by the delicate stitching, returning it again to a more autonomous form.
Strik uses photographs from for example a personal or family-archive, from books and magazines or from images he encounters on his travels. He then proceeds with stitching over these images and now and then adding patches of fabric. Sometimes he tackles the photograph in its entirety; sometimes he combines several images in a collage like manner, integrated by the embroidery. The works receive a tactile quality and the photographs lose their original association.
In his earlier works Berend Strik used rather explicit photos. Pornographic images were stitched over and the directness that usually characterizes these images disappeared, adding a more abstract quality. Nowadays the artist uses more calm images which he then transforms. An often silver-greyish colour print is almost completely covered with dispersed tufts of silky Indian velvet. The regular story of the photo is altered and layers and realities that did not exist before are created.
Berend Strik intervenes in the meanings within an image and with the image as such.
He alters the narrative, plays with historic atmospheres and art historical clichés and uses autobiographical details to express something he feels is universal. The two dimensional work itself is an elaboration on disciplines and their characteristics are altered and combined to form new dimensions.
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