Rob van der Hoeven

Rob van der Hoeven at RC Art Fair 2017

There are various works of art by Rob van der Hoeven on show in several locations at Rotterdam Contemporary Art Fair 2017, and they are all connected. First, because they’re by the same artist, but also because of Van der Hoeven’s historical, economic and cultural awareness. He constantly investigates and deciphers both the present and the past, interpreting them in his art. Three ‘lines’ can be distinguished in his work, but they are interwoven and ultimately form a single body of work.

Van der Hoeven draws inspiration from twentieth-century European history, especially the effects of the wars that took place in that era. But his work never just refers to the past, there is always a link with the present and the current state of affairs. His own history is a second line in his work, with youth culture occupying an important position. The third line consists of work that directly responds to what is happening now, sometimes in a spontaneous manner, while it also has a connection to the personal history of the artist. Language plays an important role in all of Van der Hoeven’s work, he uses it to create layers and to compel his audience to think deeply. He uses different languages (Dutch, English and German), puns and words with more than one meaning – there are words and letters in almost all of his works.

In the Bob Smit Gallery stand (no. 45) and the Field of Dreams stand (no. 5), there are two works on display that fit into the first category: Order and Beobachtungsturm. These works refer to events in the past, which Van der Hoeven has reinterpreted because he considers them essential and relevant to consider in the light of today. Beobachtungsturm is a historical reference to today’s security craze and the omnipresence of security cameras in our society. The artist wants to show that there is nothing new under the sun, things are just more technologically sophisticated. Order shows something of the past and the present, but by placing the battle tank upside down, the picture is alienated. And what does he mean by ‘order’? Is Van der Hoeven referring to the English verb ‘to order’, or does he mean it is ‘out of order’?

Rob van der Hoeven studied at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and the Statens Kunstakademie in Oslo, Norway. As a student, he was engaged in research on materials, but was also immersed in the history of art. It was the start of his search for what he, as an artist, could add to art. The everyday has always been his premise, things like home and family, music and nightlife, but also developments in society.

These points of departure are used by many artists, including Piet Mondrian. His work Victory Boogie Woogie (1942/44) is a reflection of his passion for jazz and dance, linked to the existing political situation at that time and the hope of a forthcoming liberation of Europe, which was occupied by Nazi Germany. A compelling reason for Mondrian to create this work or art. Is it a simple representation of something complex or a complex representation of something simple?

Art for art’s sake, based on the everyday. In Van der Hoeven’s oeuvre this leads to works such as Ringo Starr, Sonic Mouth, Spook and Cross-eyed. Text and artistic expression intuitively come together to create a work of art. These four works can be seen in the Ateliers Hammerstraat stand (no. 47).

The monumental work of art Indulgence Revisted (a.k.a. Teenage Guernica), on show on the Top Deck, is an everyday story. An imaginary conversation in a rock club – too many people, loud music, snatches of conversations and other exciting distractions. Things that dominate the lives of youths and also arise from the experience of the artist. A contemporary iconoclasm in word and image!