ArtCN Gallery, in cooperation with The Netherlands General Consulate and Museum de Fundatie, is pleased to present “Self Reflection” a solo exhibition of stainless steel sculptures by Ronald A. Westerhuis. As the twelfth Dutch artist in the Dutch Artists in Shanghai series, Westerhuis presents his third solo show in Shanghai. Initiated by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Shanghai, the Dutch Artists in Shanghai series, first launched in September 2016, is an on-going program to introduce and promote both established and emerging Dutch visual artists from various disciplines to the Shanghai public.
Ronald A. Westerhuis views sculpture as a medium used to disclose analytical, imaginative and expressive competences of individuals, giving rise to a new interaction with space. For instance, one of his works titled "Eye" combines abstract and representational characteristics, suggesting a relation between "gazing" and "being gazed at” based on the observers’ viewpoint as well as the reflections of themselves in the circular, central stainless ball (that resembles an eyeball). By putting human beings, nature, and images together and transforming them based on individual experiences and imagination, the artist created a surrealistic, stunning spectacle. The charisma of his sculptures precisely lies in the fact that while initiating an expansive work of sculpture the artist has produced an intriguing public domain resembling the world of aliens, which is a space for meditating as well as a sphere of tranquility.
Stainless steel as the medium, in many cases, is converted into an artistic vocabulary such as dream, beauty, coldness, purity, trend, and love. It also symbolizes that humans are being constantly alienated. What Ronald A. Westerhuis has created is a kind of "ultra-realistic" sculpture, in which the experimental characteristic is far greater than its being merely trendy. Not only does the artist look into the exquisiteness of life depicted in sculpture, he also concentrates on how to accommodate the structural mass of sculpture. Being inspired by abstract art, minimalism, and kinetics, the artist has acquired an ethereal, kinetic approach of his own. His sculptures have an aptly philosophical side to them that allows for a meditative and delightful connection with the audience.
As can be seen, incorporating nature, minimalism, and abstract vocabulary into his sculptures, Ronald A. Westerhuis has put together an absolutely formal aesthetic, which deals with the real world yet dissociates itself from its realities at the same time, allowing the viewers to willingly fantasize and involve themselves in the sculptures. Throughout his works, the artist has made the most of the rounded, smooth contour and sleek line of modern stainless steel, metaphorically showcasing the indifference and orderliness of the modern society. Meanwhile, the kinetic form projects the infinity of time and boundlessness of space.
The prominence of Ronald A. Westerhuis's concepts, as a matter of fact, dwells in how he has deconstructed and integrated the balance of nature, the coolness of industrial materials, and the poetics of soundless spaces. Visually, such serves as a metaphor for the overlapped, disorderly postmodern society. Accurately comprehending the ecologic connection among cultural viewpoints, everyday experiences and the real world, the artist has created a series of surreal sculptures with features of nature, daily life, and industry as a whole, touching upon the connotations of being public. When the viewers come in contact with the sculpture, the reflection produced by the stainless steel surface enables the light and shade to bring about a staggering, picturesque realm. Moreover, all of these attempts to bring about a re-examination of everyday experiences and changes in the external environment, and to constantly reconsider the subjective consciousness and investigate changes in the objective world. His sculptures, therefore, imply a linkage between form and space, and also trigger a dialogue between the artwork and the public.
Based on his mastery of the relationship between the static and the dynamic, orderliness and disorder, nullity and actuality, completeness and incompleteness in addition to his fascination with asymmetrical contours, Ronald A. Westerhuis has discovered the enchantment of artistic language. A language that is constantly extending its beauty by being incomplete and curving. Regardless of locality, whether the sculptures are situated in a square, a park or in front of a building, all of them demonstrate a linkage based on the relationship among the work, environment and people.
(Excerpt from On the Life Consciousness and Timelessness of Ronald A. Westerhuis's Sculptures)
—— Huang Du
Beijing-based curator and art critic
Academic director of Today Art Museum, Beijing