NRC - Levi van Veluw

Breathtakingly beautiful and desponding
'The Relativity of Matter' takes visitors on a hallucinatory, mental trip. Without a doubt the most spectacular exhibition of the year.
****

It was without a doubt the most spectacular exhibition of the year. In the mystical, all absorbing total installation The Relativity of Matter, which Levi van Veluw (1985) set up at Marres in Maastricht last fall, visitors were taken on a hallucinatory, mental trip that ran through ten different rooms. All one's senses were working overtime to (unsuccessfully) understand the disorganized, disarranged mass of seemingly distant or seemingly close-by things one could perceive in the dark. Van Veluw, who graduated in 2004 from the Academy of Arts in Arnhem and who became renowned for his highly aesthetic, meticulously executed videos, photos, drawings and installations, presents the sequel to Marres in gallery Ron Mandos in Amsterdam. The Monolith, which encompasses virtually all conceivable media that fan out from a large cube-shaped, black-stained walnut building that is obviously reminiscent of the Kaaba in Mecca. This building can be accessed as well. Once inside one is immersed in the mind of the artist/metallurgist.

Claustrophobic magnitude
There, sitting in the dark, is not just one holy stone, but hundreds of pieces of jet black charcoal, some polished and shiny, others frayed or beaten to dust. There is a desk with a stool. The walls are lined from top to bottom with type case boxes, filled with pieces of coal.
Upon entering the gallery spaces from within this darkness, the visitor is confronted with Van Veluw's mental world which unfolds in its full, yet also claustrophobic magnitude. There are charcoal drawings of out-of-plumb architectural structures. There are ink-black desks with drawers full of coal and sometimes a wonderful surprise between the slits (kneeling required). There are black wall reliefs - grids reminiscent of the minimalist works of Jan Schoonhoven, that shimmer and tantalize in an oppressive manner. And there is a deep basin filled with immersed tables and chairs, illuminated in a very sophisticated manner.
The new work of Van Veluw is not cheerful. Nor is it exhilarating. It is breathtakingly beautiful and desponding. For the monolith and charcoal do not offer a way out.

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