Art In Uncertain Times: Eric Basstein On the "Intelligent Lockdown" In Eindhoven
Dutch painter Eric Basstein opened his London debut on the March 6th at StolenSpace and hopped on a plane back to his family the morning after, just as borders around Europe started closing. Shows open with angst and anticipation, but nothing matches the relief of arriving home to a two month old infant, not too mention, a big dose of perspective. So rather than basking in post-opening night glow, the Eindhoven-based artist was happy to be back at the hearth, hearing from folks who took the VR tour of the show.
A few weeks later, as The Netherlands was going into what the government aptly characterizes as "intelligent lockdown", Basstein, feeling practical, decided to turn to the next page and start on a new body of work. We got in touch with him just as he was finishing the first piece from a new series and were curious to hear about how the project is progressing during this quiet and disquieting moment in time.
"My days at the studio didn't really change that much. The work itself is still the same. It's mostly the things around it that are different. The bike ride to my studio is quiet, and where I normally take the busy bike lane because it's the quickest way, I now tend to take different routes because it's all so still.
"I stay inside my studio as much as possible and try to avoid the weekly visit to the art store, too. Also, there is the policy that only a certain amount of customers can be inside the store, so you can't pick your own materials anymore. But this also means I'm using more stuff that I already have at my studio. Mixing colors with leftovers instead of buying new ones. So it's also a way of discovering new things by using old stuff.
"The studio building itself is also very quiet. There are a lot of different companies inside the building, so it used to be a busy place. There are also some friends who have their studio here, and I normally would visit them from time to time and have lunch together. But now we skip those most of the time. It's mostly me inside of my studio, and when it's really abandoned I start wandering around the hallway, basement or checking out the roof.
"Because of the chaos around us, the studio became also a very safe place; it gives the feeling that everything around you is standing still. I didn't have that feeling before, and I kinda like it. It feels as if I'm closer to my work, more focused. But the day I have to get new frames and paint will come, so let's hope that this crisis ends soon and people are safe again. We can visit our parents again, businesses will open their doors, and we can all dance together in front of a band or DJ instead of watching a live stream on the screen."
Text compiled by Sasha Bogojev