So Art Colours Life is exhibited at the Greene Naftali Gallery in New York until April 16. The exhibition starts with New Painting from Japan (1964), a seminal work that van Golden painted during the period he spent in Japan from 1963 to 1964. During this time, he abandoned the black and white Expressionist-type abstraction he had been developing since 1960, and began to reproduce on canvas motifs found on wrapping paper and paper napkins. The meticulous technique used to reproduce the motifs as accurately and neutrally as possible required a lot of time and concentration, and had the advantage of freeing the artist from the need to draw his inspiration from a closed mental and emotional space.
Daan van Golden has always worked slowly, having even stopped working altogether for almost a decade in the late sixties. His work is considered rare, and for the most part it resides in the collections of Dutch museums. The works in this exhibition are drawn from the artist’s studio and his own collection, and propose an entry into the inner dynamic of his work from the 1960s until today.
From then on, Daan van Golden would adhere to that position: observing and finding his subject matter ‘readymade’ in his daily experience of the world. Painted more than 50 years later, Marguerite (white), 2016, does not radically differ from those premises. As Svetlana Alpers explains of 17th century Dutch painting, “Dutch images do not disguise any significance, but show that meaning is inserted in what the eyes are capable of grasping.” Van Golden’s work—like the still lifes of Willem Claesz, the landscapes of van Ruysdael, or the interiors of Vermeer—provides us with the opportunity to see what is visible, but not necessarily perceived, in order to discover the marvelous at the heart of everyday experience.
New Dehli (1991) and Passages testify to van Golden’s search for finding the extraordinary at the heart of the everyday. Here, Passages—a series featuring van Golden’s daughter, which would later develop into the photographic project Youth is an Art—is presented in the form of 36 pages extracted from the eponymous catalogue and framed in red. New Delhi transforms the ‘smile’ of pansies found in the streets of New Delhi into decorative motifs reminiscent of those found in wrapping paper and fabric. With Double prints (2012), van Golden curates his own retrospective. Each print combines two of van Golden’s favourite works in one image, and the series echoes Tokyo (1964), images from the artist’s early paintings photographed on his balcony in Tokyo. Collage with passe-partout is similarly retrospective: made in 1993, the collage is realized from leftover Mitsukoshi papers that van Golden kept from his Japanese years. Van Golden’s work does not develop in time. It continually cycles back on itself, forming an endless circle that celebrates the eternal return of life rather than the promises of progress. And if, in turn, his work is in dialogue with Pop or Conceptual art, minimalism or appropriation, it has always been careful to keep its serene independence.
As the sun colours flowers, so art colours life, Sir John Lubbock. This quotation is taken from a speech entirely composed of quotations and that Daan van Golden gave when he received the PC Art Award on 25 November 1990 in Amsterdam.
About Daan van Golden
Daan van Golden lives and works in the Netherlands. Since the 1960s, he has been the subject of numerous solo shows at institutions including The Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, The Netherlands; Le Consortium, Dijon; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Gemeente Museum, Den Haag, The Netherlands Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; and Wiels, Brussels. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition in the United States.