Willehad Eilers Wishes Your Dreams To Come True @ Concordia in The Netherlands
One of the certain downsides of social media and modern-day life is the constant bombardment of self improvement and life changing challenges. While ticking off goals might be lucrative or affirmational, it could also be a dangerously damaging endeavor. Willehad Eilers, aka Wayne Horse, is on a quest to reveal the other side of the winning medal, the dark repercussions of chasing the dream.
Following the 2018 show Happy Holidays Forever at Galerie Droste in Germany, Amsterdam-based artist has recently opened a follow-up exhibition of sorts titled May Your Dreams Come True at the Concordia in Enschede, The Netherlands. The immersive exhibition, comprised of installations, sculptural works, paintings on canvas, paintings on paper, and video art pieces, occupies multiple spaces within the huge venue. Named after one of his paintings from earlier in the year, the exhibition depicts surreal, grotesque scenes of people sacrificing themselves for their dreams. Portraying the fallen "heroes" of big-bucket list behavior, the exhibition focuses on presenting the unsustainability and downsides of such a superficial lifestyle. "You take your basic inner human wishes, and they're tainted with all the shit you see in the world, the baggage you gathered during your lifetime," Eilers told about his fascination with dreams in an interview about the show. "It is in this sense that I like the subject of dreams - there is beauty in them but there is also dirt that comes with them."
Stepping away from his line-based work and now working with oils, the German-born artist has painted a series of mostly big-scale works in which mutilated characters are captured in moments of almost mythical debauchery. The unctuous, thicker material produces a turgid volume surrounding his characters and the accessories to their debauchery. Deconstructed faces blur in slow motion, dragging along endless slabs of malformed and deflated bodies. Dominating the show is the 3.5m wide piece Der Marsch, an epic crowded scene set beneath Greek ruins, wrapped in a rainbow and as random angels fall from the skies. Within this seemingly idyllic picture characters turn puce, as enablers ply them with drinks and a variety of indulgences. "The people who are green or pale are the dreamers, so it's their dream that they are living and all the characters around are their desires," the artist explains. "They represent little vices and whatever you get for yourself. People, especially with the whole motivation coaching thing, strive for something they want, and when they have it, that's not it. Then they want something else or they want the same thing again, only bigger." The endless human need for pleasurable validation motivates the scenes. Group scenes of alcohol fueled bacchanalia and the resulting indecent behavior, as well as the aftermath of such doings, explode with ridicule for the wasteful pursuit.
The humor is arguably most evident in the postcard-like pieces in which the proverbial "walk of shame" is portrayed as a heroic endeavor. Referenced from actual post-party photos, they evidence the extremes people will go to satisfy their need to "let go and have fun". A group in Majorca struggles to handle their rush at the end of the night, transformed into a post-battle portrait of sorts. "When you isolate them, they become heroic. And also, somehow in an endless space, this weirdness of the whole action echoes forever," the artist explains as another way of observing them. As in most of his works, Eilers doesn’t relate the details of the story but suggests enough that viewers can fill in the gaps. In between wall pieces, the artist constructed a series of sculptural works that imagine holiday resorts promoting the “island dreams” lifestyle that beckons the tribe aesthetic. Beach chairs, wigs, swimsuits, and an abundance of scattered liquor bottles and cans are scattered on the sand, and flags with aspirational phrases dangle lifeless from the poles, all a subtle connection to Eilers' earlier, "blind drawing" based works. "It is in between beauty and megalomania and just pure, un-understandable, disgusting desires," the artist explains. Enjoy the trip! —Sasha Bogojev