When Johan Meijerink passed away in September 2011, he left behind an oeuvre that is as beautiful as it is closed. He was a silent artist. His work appears just as still. Is it the caution of the minimalist, who wants to allow objects to be entirely themselves, speak for themselves? Or are we entering the silence of a Zen garden, of which Johan was a great fan?
Experts from the art world, with different visions of the work, set up De Ketelfactory twice. They can make use of a specially erected cupboard containing a large number of Meijerink’s works.
Cathy Jacob, as head of presentations at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, is highly experienced at creating exhibitions. Catalijn Ramakers has, in her role as Johan Meijerink’s gallery owner, put together many presentations of his work with him. Does the difference in distance to the oeuvre create a difference in the form of presentation? Do they help us to interpret or place the work? We hope for answers, and chances are they will come about as we look, in silence.
Johan Meijerink (1948-2011) worked with extremely elementary shapes and often involved the pedestal in the sculpture. In that sense, there is a connection to the work of Constantin Brancusi. Both artists were able to vary endlessly in the placement of their sculptures, whilst still showing their craft.
Each of Johan Meijerink’s sculptures breathes the patience required to polish a perfect curve. During this long process, objects are reduced to basic shapes such as a ball or a cylinder: concise and perfect, so we experience them as ‘silent’ and ‘timeless’. His sculptures are monumental, despite their modest size.
It’s an oeuvre that asks for presentations that allow connections to be made on different levels.
distillation ‘Inherited silence’
Date: 14 October 2012
In collaboration with: Sandra Smets, Willie Stehouwer, Olphaert den Otter, Ingrid van Santen, Cathy Jacob, Catalijn Ramakers, Trompenburg Tuinen and Arboretum Rotterdam
Sandra Smets in conversation with Olphaert den Otter and Willie Stehouwer
Art critic Sandra Smets speaks with Willie Stehouwer and Olphaert den Otter about their lives and friendships with Johan Meijerink.
Artist Olphaert den Otter remarks how Johan Meijerink’s sculptures are a riddle to the viewer, as you never quite know how to approach them. Partner Willie Stehouwer mentions the serenity that once attracted her to Johan, and how she finds that back in his work.
Ingrid van Santen in conversation with Cathy Jacob and Catalijn Ramakers
Art historic Ingrid van Santen interviews Cathy Jacob, head of presentations at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and Catalijn Ramakers, Johan Meijerink’s gallery owner, about the presentations of Johan’s work they created at De Ketelfactory.
Cathy Jacob describes Johan’s work as ‘a pearl that’s just there all of the sudden’. She is mainly moved by the timelessness, serenity and modesty the sculptures emanate. When Catalijn Ramakers first saw one of Johan’s works in a client’s garden, her heart skipped a few beats.
The conversations will be followed by the presentation of the monography of Johan Meijerink. The texts in the monography were written by Jan van Adrichem, Olphaert den Otter and Frits de Coninck. A publication by Clio, Rotterdam. The book contains a complete overview of the artist’s oeuvre, created between 1972 and 2011.
The distillation ends with a visit to the Trompenburg Gardens and the Arboretum Rotterdam.
Excerpt by Ingrid van Santen: “The spiritual charge of certain places in the landscape, prehistoric monuments, temples, stupas, baroque churches or Zen gardens, can be found in Johan’s oeuvre. At it’s core, I find Johan’s work mysterious,” says Olphaert den Otter. “One could say it bears the features of minimalistic work, without behaving as such. It’s very simple and it appears fundamental in a certain way, but one also experiences reference to things beyond art, which is not really within the minimalist’s pale. That’s where Johan’s silence plays tricks on us. It sort of fits with the Zen master who gives us no answers, but asks only questions.”