René Daniels

Rene Daniels, born in 1950, is a Dutch artist who started his career in the 1980s in the broader context of the international “return to painting”. While his initial works were loosely painted and had a narrative and anecdotal inclination, he changed his approach in 1984 and developed in a more subdued painterly manner the shape of an abstracted exhibition room with proxy paintings on display. This shape became the basic figure of his works for the next two or three years. It underwent repeated mutations and became part of different constellations until it finally turned into a disposable element of the non-referential construction of a pictorial context.

Using and reconfiguring the image of the exhibition room, Daniels’ paintings reflected the situation of a painting exhibition: he depicted paintings lacking an image, a mere decoration of the gallery space. Thus he ultimately depicted his own painting as empty shapes, a void in the museum. A picture was implemented to manifest the lack of substantial imagery and thereby the fetish character of painting – a reflection of 1960s institutional critique within the framework of the 1980s “return to painting”.

The reduction of the picture to an empty form was for Daniels the condition for producing an expanded sequence of paintings unbounded by referential premises. The shape that came to be named the “bow tie” had turned into a mark that could be freely multiplied and used to occupy the entire picture plane. In works from 1987 called Kades-Kaden or Lentebloesem [Spring Blossom], Daniels replaced the empty shapes of paintings in an exhibition room by their written titles or he named places where certain actions were possible.

In 1987 Daniels suffered a severe stroke and came back to painting only around 2005. He took up where he had left off fifteen years before, revisiting and reconfiguring his work prior to the stroke.

Last updated: 19.05.2015

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