Robischon Gallery in Denver will open an exhibition next week featuring 11 recently executed paintings by Christian Rex van Minnen, who was featured in the April 2014 print edition of Juxtapoz. The show, "Golden Memes," opens on January 15, 2015.
The title of the show, “Golden Memes,” is a play on words and literal meaning. The Dutch Golden Age represents the culmination of 300 years of technical advances in painting and composition. van Minnen, whose appetite for this period’s art history appears to be insatiable, noted the great frequency of certain memes. “You would see how one artist nails something then others take it on and repeat it.” He snatches these memes from their historical resting places and mashes them together with contemporary aesthetics, stirring new significance into the historical lineage.
The show contains several hallmark van Minnen motifs: grotesque portraits with bulging Arcimboldo protrusions and decadent still lives spilling and oozing with alien delicacies. But this body of work also debuts a shift towards larger scale and experimental works that break away from the conventional compositional structures of portrait and still life to zoom in on particular Dutch Golden Age memes that symbolize opulence as well as a painterly technical prowess.
Almost half the show features plum fleshed beings; Eve/Pandora and St. Sebastion have had their skin replaced with epicuticular wax, a thin transparent skin that reveals the inner body’s hot juices. This “golden meme” was heavily used in the depiction of the literal fruits from colonized lands. Grapes for example were rare and expensive; symbolizing the opulence of new mercantile wealth.
van Minnen imbeds serious eye-candy into the structural conventions handed down from European lineages. “It’s a kind of Trojan horse effect; you accept it as a portrait or still life but it is neither.” The readability of traditional painting provides an entryway of accessibility for communicating abstracted concepts dealing with colonization and its darker baggage lurking just beneath the bling and opulence.
Keep an eye out for more Christian Rex van Minnen work at Paulsen Gallery (Copenhagen) @ Pulse fair NYC this March