ExhibitionBeyond Tradition

Curator: Hans van der Ham
Tekst: Hans van der Ham en Yasmijn Jarram

The group exhibition Beyond Tradition shows the work of nine contemporary visual artists that is tangibly related to a long tradition.

In the art scene of the 1960s and 1970s little value was placed on developing a particular artistic metier, and using that metier to create a work of art. Instead, the focus was much more on the underlying concept. The material expression of the concept was of secondary importance. In the 1980s, however, painting was ‘reinvented’. Traditional values and standards were given a new leash of life and the material became the focal point again.

At the same time, there was a renewed interest in figurative art. Various artists were inspired by likeminded predecessors and attempted to surpass them. This required craftsmanship. In addition, they were confronted with the eternal ‘burden’ of figurative art. This burden is the risk of being labelled as merely good craftsmen producing good work – safe and irrelevant.

The work of the artists participating in Beyond Tradition seems to be based on this movement . Even though they use different techniques, they share an interest in figurative art, use of material and the physical nature of the artwork. Their work seems to stem from a different era in terms of technique, but the visual language of their final product is contemporary. Many of these artists have specialised in one particular medium. The material is no longer of secondary importance compared to the underlying concept.

It is highly likely that the increasing digitalisation of art plays a role in this contemporary focus on material and technical skills. How are these two trends related? Can a traditional looking work of art survive in this day and age?