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Erik van Lieshout

  • Exhibition

  • May 27, 2007 - January 1, 2008
  • Galleries

Read the The New York Times review.

Erik van Lieshout is one of The Netherlands’ most prominent artists; his provocative works treat sex, violence, politics, and commercial culture with equal humor, candor, and irreverence. His MASS MoCA exhibition included a selection of video and works on paper.

Trained as a painter, van Lieshout became well known in the 1990s for his expressionistic canvases and large-scale drawings which merge graphic images of drugs, pornography, and street culture with a range of media figures including Burka-clad women, Batman, and Snoop Dogg. In 1997, van Lieshout began making the simply crafted sculptures and video installations that now round out his multimedia practice. Van Lieshout places himself directly in the center of his videos using his experience as a crucible to interpret the complex psychology of a nation grappling with immigration, tolerance, colonialism, and sexuality.

The videos that were on view at MASS MoCA — Lariam (2001), UP! (2005), and Part 1 and Part 2 (2007), filmed in the United States — touch on the influence of hip-hop and the cultural exchanges between Holland and Ghana, and the artist’s own internal struggles with work and family. Each video was presented within a viewing environment designed by van Lieshout. Using his signature unfinished materials, including cardboard, vinyl tarps, duct tape, and plywood, the artist created intimate installations that incorporate the viewer more actively into the work, altering the standard modes of reception, while poking fun at the legacy of the highly polished image of Dutch design and architecture. Further subverting the museum-goer’s usual viewing experience, the artist installed Lariam in a shipping container in the front courtyard of the MASS MoCA complex.

The exhibition was presented as part of NL: A Season of Dutch Arts in the Berkshires.

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