narrative projects is pleased to present Night Plinths, a group, painting exhibition featuring Maarten van den Bos, Archie Franks, Xiao-yang Li, Sofia Silva and John Thole. The exhibition is a result of an intermittent conversation starting from the end of 2015; its ideas and themes have since evolved alongside each artist’s unique trajectory.
The works by these five painters are brought together by a shared attitude towards their practice: painting as a deeply intimate and psychological act of will. This shared understanding represents an urge to return to the very essence of paint – the intrinsic quality that arises in the movements of the painter’s hand, the tangible sensation realized in the material and the balanced unity of form & content. In response to our increasingly virtualized society saturated with images and immersed in digital culture, this new generation of artists intend to make the material and the personal presence of their works much more explicit, through a profound engagement with their preferred approach.
Explored in the works are an expansive range of subjects, motifs and themes gathered from art history. There are provocative human figures, humorous interpretations of the everyday, a brooding contemplation of abstract shapes and the enigmatic relations between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional. As ancient sculptures ogling from their plinths, the paintings accompany the viewer to the idiosyncratic mythology of these five painters.
The shared fascination of painterly material concedes a link as opposed to rupture between the present and the past. Therefore, the artists are not painting out of nostalgia or misplaced romanticism, but rather out of necessity - an urgency to conjure a material presence and to give their work substance in an increasingly substance-less time.