The music of the American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987) is a recurrent, inspiring and motivating factor in the work of visual artists Steven Aalders and Ton van Os. While Feldman was influenced by Abstract Expressionism in his time, Aalders and Van Os are stimulated by Feldman’s music in their visual art. Feldman composed the work ‘For Philip Guston’ (four-and-a-half hours in length) which is dedicated to this famous American painter. Specially for the exhibition at De Ketelfactory, the Ives Ensemble will perform this piece of music, under the direction of John Snijders (piano) and in the midst of artworks by Steven Aalders and Ton van Os.
Steven Aalders (1959) strives, in an abstract language, for simplicity and clarity, for universal expression that speaks to anyone at any time. He produces paintings in which bands of color are set against a light or a dark background. In his studio Aalders has often been listening, for at least twenty years now, to the meditative sounds of the American composer Morton Feldman. Here, just as in his own work, there is a use of repetition and variation. With his exhibition ‘Vertical Thoughts’ (2003) in S.M.A.K. Gent, he referred to a composition by Feldman by the same name, combining a series of five paintings with Feldman’s ‘Violin and String Quartet’ for the Mondriaanhuis (2009).
Ton van Os
Since the year 2000 Ton van Os (1941) has been working on a series of paintings (numbering over ninety by now) based on the music of Morton Feldman and his essays and lectures on music and visual art. As a response to and reflection on Feldman’s ‘For Philip Guston’, Van Os created the diptych ‘A Broken Painting’, which is on view at De Ketelfactory. About these paintings the composer and critic Anthony Fiumara wrote: “Ton van Os has succeeded in conveying the essence of Feldman’s music on the canvas. By that I don’t mean to say that the paintings are visual subtitles to Feldman’s sounds. As far as that is concerned, the paintings of Van Os retain their sovereignty. Situated outside musical time, each work in the series seems to be an X-ray of Feldman’s world.”
distillation ‘The sound of colour’
Date: 13 March 2011
In collaboration with: Anthony Fiumara and the Ives Ensemble
Anthony Fiumara in conversation with de artists
“The same thing over and over. Always the same, but from a different perspective: I find that a wonderful motto,” composer and musicologist Anthony Fiumara states on his website. It’s a thought that can be felt throughout his oeuvre, from the static orchestra works to raw solos, from cracking electronic music to well-formed songs. Anthony Fiumara enters into conversation with the artists and with John Snijders, leader of the Ives Ensemble, about the inspiration that flows from Morton Feldman’s music.
The Ives Ensemble plays ‘For Philip Guston’
“The Ives Ensemble is specialised in modern chamber music in its purest form. Named after the unconventional composer Charles Ives, the ensemble continuously looks for surprising music. With one leg in the 20th century, the other in the 21st century and the gaze towards the 22nd century. The Ives Ensemble plays contemporary historical music, music we will come to appreciate as our cultural heritage. Composers such as John Cage, Aldo Clementi and Louis Andriessen wrote music for the ensemble. Now they are also collaborating with leading contemporary artists and composers. Using Amsterdam as their base, the twelve musicians tour nationally and internationally with programmes that re-teach audiences how to listen.” (source: website Ives Ensemble)
In the middle of the exhibition in De Ketelfactory the Ives Ensemble, led by John Snijders (piano), performs the four-and-a-half hour piece ‘For Philip Guston’ by Morton Feldman.
publication (in Dutch)
Excerpt by Robert-Jan Muller:
“For hours on end, sounds light up and extinguish like stars in the night sky. The long duration of the piece and the concentration of the musicians were mirrored at this location by the paintings of Allders and Van Os. In their work, too, these aspects play a part: Aalders places layer over layer of paint over a long process. Van Os glazes his paintings into a perfect surface over endless stages. The musician who was once inspired by his painting contemporaries, turned out to become an inspiration to a later generation of artists. The circle is complete.”