Following recent solos in the Consortium, in Dijon, and Museum Ludwig, in Cologne, Lily van der Stokker (1954 Den Bosch) has produced two brilliant wall paintings with extensions, entitled ‘Uncle Jan, Auntie Annie’, for the Bonnefantenmuseum’s main gallery, the Cupola. The installation will be on display throughout 2004.
Van der Stokker’s wall paintings are quite unique. They are unabashedly decorative and full of colour, and are always accompanied by surprisingly banal, hand-written exclamations and remarks. Cynicism and irony, however, are not the artist’s intention. Van der Stokker really just wants to work in a ‘cheerful and friendly’ way, to feel ‘wonderful’, to be ‘cosy at home’, and to have a moan about ‘good old abstract art’.
Her work is often described as recalcitrant and provoking or, according to film director John Waters, “a subversive celebration of everything that is artistically incorrect”. Not lacking in humour and pleasantly putting things in perspective, Van der Stokker’s inalienable wall paintings reflect the susceptibility and inventiveness of somebody who, nearly fifteen years ago, forged a new way ahead for herself, and for art, out of the ruins of the so detestably cynical 1980’s. “Shit, art is dead” Van der Stokker wrote on a drawing, in 1991. Maybe more in relief than anything else?
Armed with a fully-formed visual language of decorative motifs and fluorescent colours, Van der Stokker is able to transform the sentimental, through enlargement and self-mockery, into something genuine and moving, like in a well-made soap.
This is also the case in the wall painting ‘Uncle Jan, Auntie Annie’, to which a higgledy-piggledy stack of boxes has been added for the first time at this size (six metres high).
‘Uncle Jan and Auntie Annie’, two wonderful, but pretty crazy, wall paintings, make the whole cupola tower radiant with their simplicity and light-heartedness. There lies the strength of Lily van der Stokker. Though her visual language, texts and use of colour stand for protest and resistance, they are optimistic nevertheless, and leave room for imagination.
“A peculiar new era of good feelings is dawning. A dialectical shift seems underway” wrote critic Peter Schjeldahl in 1992, after seeing her work in the New York The Village Voice.
A catalogue will accompany the exhibition, (16 pg.) N/E with essays of Paula van den Bosch and Anne Pontégnie. Photography Peter Cox.