Past Exhibition

Rinus Van de Velde: I Want to Eat Mangos in the Bathtub

March 8–May 12, 2024

Art Sonje Center, Space ISU

Rinus Van de Velde: I Want to Eat Mangos in the Bathtub

From March 8 to May 12, Art Sonje Center and Space ISU will present Rinus Van de Velde: I Want to Eat Mangos in the Bathtub, an exhibition that examines a wide range of works by artist Rinus Van de Velde.

Rinus Van de Velde explores circular narratives encompassing reality and fiction, working across different fields of art that include drawings, installations, sculptures, and videos. With a keen interest in the theory of parallel universes, Van de Velde’s solo exhibition presents his own imaginative journey to find himself through all of these art forms. At the exhibition, the artist takes on an artistic adventure across art history, meeting Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Emil Nolde (1867-1956), Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), and others. In particular, the exhibition is organized mainly around works based on a “fictional autobiography” of the artist’s life, as if he were an early 20th-century pleinairist painting nature in the sunlight a century ago, enabling viewers to focus on the artist’s latest works.

The exhibition title is taken from Van de Velde’s work I want to eat mangos in the bathtub while watching the sun, moon and clouds go by (2023), a quote attributed to Henri Matisse when he traveled to the south of France to find the best light for painting. Van de Velde handwrote the quote at the bottom of a multicolored, light-filled abstract painting, identifying himself with other 20th-century pleinairists who traveled in search of light, while paradoxically revealing his view of working on art: that he can take an imaginary journey to exotic worlds while soaking in the warmth of his own bathtub without actually leaving it.

Featuring large-scale charcoal drawings, which many see as Van de Velde’s most emblematic works, as well as oil pastels, colored pencil drawings, videos, sculptures, and installations, the exhibition will be presented simultaneously at Art Sonje Center and Space ISU during the same period. At Art Sonje Center, the exhibition is organized around two films in which fragmented narratives unfold like a series of unconscious dreams. In La Ruta Natural (2019-2021), the death and rebirth of the self is repeated through a journey into a surreal world with a palindromic title, while A Life in a Day (2021-2023) depicts the journey of a pleinairist over the course of a day. In both films, the protagonist wears a mask that resembles the artist’s face and plays Van de Velde’s doppelganger, living different versions of “a life in a day” by repeating the virtual and real, adventure and routine, and life and death. The devices that appear in Van de Velde’s films are also things created by the artist himself with wood and cardboard in his studio. The exhibition allows viewers to actually see the sets and props that appear in his films, from real-size sets and cardboard cars to miniature models. Like handicraft items, they have been painstakingly produced down to the tiniest details, yet the vulnerable materials and construction are intentionally revealed in a way that reminds us we are looking at a cinematic illusion.

“Pleinairism is interesting to me because it is about the furthest thing from my reality (…) I realize that it is the dream and the desire that matter; to imagine something and thus arrive at imaginary landscapes or enter into conversations with pleinairists of the past; to understand that art movement and gain a deeper understanding of it.

—Rinus Van de Velde, from an interview with the artist

In addition to Prop, Tunnel (2020), a movie set and sculpture that serves as a passageway into an imaginary journey, Space ISU will feature a charcoal drawing depicting an empty bed as a place to daydream and find inspiration, an entrance to multiple parallel universes, as well as oil pastels of a “fictional autobiography” based on biographies of real-life figures, such as an explorer and an artist. Van de Velde’s more recent oil pastel paintings are imaginary landscapes he created after having imaginary conversations with early 20th-century pleinairists of Impressionism and Expressionism. Van de Velde focuses on pleinairism, as opposed to the many other schools of art, because the pleinairists—who left their studios in search of light and nature—are most different from himself, who never leaves his studio to work. Whereas the pleinairists were inspired by the nature they saw and experienced outdoors, Van de Velde stays in his armchair in his studio, taking imaginary trips and painting imaginary landscapes. This exhibition is filled with landscape paintings of skies, oceans, lakes, forests, and fields created by Van de Velde as a pleinairist.

“I am convinced that our imagination is a gift we have been given as human beings and that we should use it to the fullest. It is often more interesting to imagine something than to experience it ourselves in reality. The daydream is a powerful tool and we can use it to reflect on reality.”

—Rinus Van de Velde, from an interview with the artist

Rinus Van de Velde: I Want to Eat Mangos in the Bathtub opens up a multifaceted perspective to see life and art in a new way by making myriad elements, such as imagination and reality, the fake and the real, and art and language, collide, create tension, and blur the boundaries between them. Through this exhibition, we invite you to accompany the artist on his inner adventure, which may at times seem like absurd daydreams and at other times capture serious artistic concerns, and to test the infinite power of imagination to make us look at our familiar, everyday life in new and unimagined ways.

The exhibition, which is being jointly hosted by Art Sonje Center, Space ISU, and the Jeonnam Museum of Art, will move on to the Jeonnam Museum of Art in late May.

About the Artist
Rinus Van de Velde (b.1983)

Rinus Van de Velde explores circular narratives in virtual, actual and parallel universes by encompassing paintings, installations, sculptures and videos. He builds a unique artistic universe in each work based on primary historical sources such as photographs taken or collected by himself, images clipped from the media, and documentation of historical figures. In particular, the work in which a character with a similar appearance to the artist attracts the concepts of doppelgänger and parallel universe to his artistic practice and finds the expandability of paintings.

Rinus Van de Velde lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. He received his master degrees at Sint Lucas Antwerpen in 2006 and at HISK (Hoger Instituut Voor Schone Kunsten – Vlaanderen) in 2010. He has held solo exhibitions at numerous prestigious museums such BOZAR (2022) in Brussels, Kunstmuseum Luzern (2021) in Luzern, Frac des Pays de la Loire (2021) in Nantes, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Malaga (2020). His works are in the collections including S.M.A.K., Belfius Art Collection, Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Belgium, Kunstmuseum Den Haag Den Haag and Museum Voorlinden in Netherlands and CAC Málaga in Spain.

Rinus Van de Velde: I Want to Eat Mangos in the Bathtub Exhibition Catalogue
The exhibition catalogue ‘Rinus Van de Velde: I Want to Eat Mangos in the Bathtub’ features an introduction to the exhibition and its artworks. It includes texts by Na Jung Kim, Sunjung Kim, Jang Un Kim, and Timon Karl Kaleyta, along with a conversation between Rinus Van de Velde and Heehyun Cho to deepen readers’ exploration of artworks.

March 8–May 12, 2024
Art Sonje Center, Space ISU
Rinus Van de Velde
Hosted by
Art Sonje Center, Jeonnam Museum of Art, Space ISU
Organized by
Art Sonje Center, Space for Contemporary Art
Curated by
Sunjung Kim (Artistic Director, Art Sonje Center), Heehyun Cho (Head of Exhibitions, Art Sonje Center), Najung Kim (Curator, Space ISU)
Sponsored by
Gallery Baton