Just as color plays an undeniable role in everyone’s life – more than we recognize – this may be even more true for the Dutch artist Erik Mattijssen. In his works, which can be seen for the first time in Belgium in the solo exhibition “Dubbele Dosis (Double Dose)” in the Raf van Severen Gallery in Antwerp, not only the composite scene of images is striking, but also the use of color.
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For this artist, who lives and works in Amsterdam, has had forty solo exhibitions and won the prestigious NN Art Award in 2021, creating color is a big, satisfying game. “Green and blue provide peace and harmony, red and yellow represent vitality, life, danger. My moment of bliss and excitement is when I find the complementary color that enhances the turquoise or tones down the too-burning purple. As there are millions of color grades,” the artist tells. “I really love colors, the way they reinforce each other, rub against each other, fight, or flow into each other. Meaning is attributed to color. When I use ultramarine in a work, everyone immediately talks about that beautiful color. But my favorite colors are on a different spectrum. These are less easy to name. I find them more interesting as they are in between everything….Silence and then: “There is a favorite green color: a bit mustardy, deep olive brown that I use and like.”
Where does “Dubbele Dosis (Double dose)” come from? “When Raf van Severen invited me for a solo exhibition, I assumed that we would make a link with my work and the pieces from his fantastic collection. And so it happened; my work now hangs among my heroes such as Raveel, Spilliaert, Sonja Delaunay and Jean Brusselmans. And that is a great honor. But the title also refers a bit to my tendency to take it a step further in life, which others sometimes find tiring and a bit too much.”
“Expectations and Stardust Memory are two works I made last summer. Both are from a large series of a hundred toys that I made in 2021 when I was in Berlin and everything was on lockdown due to Covid. To start the day well, I painted one every day: the Berlin Toys. In addition to Berlin, my artist residencies in Ireland, Spain, Suriname, India and Paris have always provided inspiring impulses. I love theater, puppetry, model building, ‘make believe world’ and toys, as they are an easy metaphor for this. When I got home, I planned to relate them more to each other, to paint little scenes, a bit like in Toy Story, where toys come to life at night. I create titles at the very end, when the works are hanging relative to each other on my studio wall.” “In Expectations all the animals look in the same direction expectantly, but also a little startled.”
Dubbele Dosis. Erik Mattijssen until 20 January in Raf Van Severen Gallery, Antwerp Belgium.