The opening of season 2022/23 at The Merchant House (TMH) is dedicated to new photography and Leo Vroegindeweijs Ephemeral Projects. The opening weekend takes place during Unseen Amsterdam from 15 September to 18 September, and the exhibition runs through 13 November. In THM’s 18th-century period room, Vroegindeweij’s installation offers a breathtaking experience. Visitors see themselves reflected in the high-gloss spheres the artist has spread across the floor. The effect is that art reflects life and life reflects art. The group exhibition reflects this. There are surprising photographic works, sculptures, paintings and installations by Zhu Hong, Sylvie Bonnot and André de Jong. The ephemeral as a theme, but also as an opportunity to explore new possibilities in photography, is reflected in each work.
Leo Vroegindeweij: Ephemeral Project for TMH
Vroegindeweij’s installation at TMH is a continuation of his Oeuvres éphémères at historic sites in France. The work consists of twenty-seven ready-made silver spheres, also known as witches’ balls, each 38 centimeters in diameter. The shiny objects are scattered across the floor. The work has no title and the walls remain empty, without thereby becoming a background. Like a lens, each sphere reflects the image of both the shameless Flora on the three-hundred-year-old Baroque ceiling and that of the gazing spectator. ‘In doing so, my work does not communicate meaning but it exhibits behavior. The experience of this behavior takes place during an encounter in which work and beholder are equal but disparate.’ This idea has been present with Vroegindeweij from his early works, which won him the Prix de Rome in 1985. In the course of his forty-five years of sculptural practice, time, space and contingencies became part of his natural toolbox. For example, the proposal for the installation at TMH took its form in February 2022 during the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
New Photography and the Ephemeral: Leo Vroegindeweij, Zhu Hong, Sylvie Bonnot, André de Jong
The group exhibition New Photography and the Ephemeral at TMH can be described as an exploration of the ephemeral. The presentation consists of works such as prints, sculptures, paintings and installations, all of which derive their inspiration from photography. Leo Vroegindeweij’s contribution is a sophisticated photographic scan of Rodin’s sculpted hands – depicted on aluminum as a flame-shaped trail. Zhu Hong’s wall work Amstel is literally something fleeting and temporary: her brushstrokes, which betray the roughness of the wall, rhyme with her photographic documentation of light on water. André de Jong’s flowers (printed on diverse paper) and Sylvie Bonnot’s spatial work (reworked with her own “mue” technique) evoke the uncanny, strange and forbidden. For this group exhibition in combination with Vroegindeweij’s intervention, the gallery’s historic location with its symbolism and apparent eternity is the appropriate setting.