James Cohan Gallery presents The Holy Land, an exhibition of new works by Folkert de Jong, opening on March 19th and running through April 25th. A reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, March 19th from 6 – 8 PM.
Folkert de Jong is internationally recognized for figurative sculptures—executed in the inorganic industrial materials of Styrofoam and polyurethane—that mine issues of empire, trauma and myth. In 2012, De Jong made his first works in cast bronze, bringing experimentation and edge to the medium, as well as engaging in the history of the monument and public art.
The works in The Holy Land were developed for De Jong’s recent solo exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire, UK, where, in collaboration with the nearby Royal Armories in Leeds, the artist made 3D scans of suits of armor belonging to Henry VIII. The resulting bronze sculptural portraits depict a battle-ready ruler at three stages of his life, from the young peacock to the fat stoic. Old DNA, which grew out of the monarch’s final suit of armor, depicts a top-heavy cannonball of a man, with legs that hollow out from the back. An external nervous system or energy field running around the figure—derived from casting channels that would typically be clipped off the work before completion—is exposed, unprotected.
The bronzes are shown alongside casts of contemporary firearms from the Armories’ collection and a group of new mixed-media figures trapped inside multicolored Plexiglas vitrines. The Holy Land addresses the idea of preservation, in the sense of both immortalization and protection. How do we decide what to remember from history, and what do we leave out? How do facts erode, and how can we restore them? “The scene De Jong creates does not feel like an official history,” writes the Hepworth curator Sam Lackey, “but rather a hidden or unseen moment—an uncovered conspiracy from the past.” The Holy Land is frozen but alive, a series of monuments built from unexpected connections, with meaning gathering at the seams.
Production of this exhibition has been made possible in part by the generous financial support of the Mondriaan Fund.
FOLKERT DE JONG
82 5/8 x 35 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.
210 x 90 x 70 cm
Edition of 3
Photo: Aatjan Renders
© The Artist / Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai
About Folkert de Jong
Dutch Artist Folkert de Jong (born 1972, Egmond aan Zee) is best known for his theatrical, narrative tableaux that address themes of war, greed and power. “When I watch the news or follow the world by the media,” de Jong stated in conversation with critic Steven Cox in 2013, “I can’t believe what I am hearing and seeing, it seems like a déjà vu, something is repeating itself.” A sense of tragedy and absurdity, a comically desperate psychological state, permeates his work, particularly through the sculptural material for which de Jong became known: industrial Styrofoam and Polyurethane insulation foams. Harsh and rough with heightened expressive power in material and theme, de Jong’s figures embody a grotesque horror and macabre humor reminiscent of the work of the 20th century European artists Georges Grosz and James Ensor.
De Jong has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire; MUDAM, Luxembourg; Musée d’Évreux, Normandy; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Middelheim Museum, Antwerp; and the Musée d’art Contemporain, Rocheouart. Selected recent group exhibitions include Post-Picasso, Museu Picasso, Barcelona; Music Palace, Fondation Boghossian, Brussels; Dramedy, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Texas; The Anatomy Lesson, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. Selected collections include the GEM Art Museum, The Hague; the KRC Collection, Rotterdam; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Lever House Art Collection; the Rabo Art Collection; and the Saatchi Collection. He was the recipient of the Prix de Rome in 2003. De Jong lives and works in Amsterdam.