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oil, acrylic and spray on canvas

Darkness is the title of my upcoming and first solo exhibition in a foreign museum. It opens on April 5th 2018 at the TRAFO Museum in Szczecin, Poland. As a painter my aim is to constantly challenge my own painting in terms of surface, content and colour. For quite some time now, I have had the idea of painting a series of dark works for an exhibition. That idea has finally become a reality. ‘Dark’ painting has been around since the Renaissance. Throughout the history of art, ‘black’ painting has made a huge impact in terms of both colour and theme, and artists have used it to depict tragic and historic events. Take, for example, the exhibition, Die Schwarzen jahre,1933 -1945 at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin in 2016.

My works have both a physical and psychological dimension. Natural physical darkness happens every day and, in the case of most people, it helps us calm down, preparing us to fall asleep and providing the body with tranquillity and rest. Night is the period between midnight and 5.00 a.m., when for various reasons many people cannot sleep. For them it is a psychological nightmare. Meanwhile, other people thrive on darkness. Whilst nearly everyone else is in hibernation mode, they live a totally different life.

For many people, the forest, which has played a major role in my works, is a beautiful, peaceful place to go for a walk in order to recharge their bodies and souls. But, in the dead of night, that same forest is a place that most people would rather avoid, because we all know, or have heard about alarming accounts of things that have happened in ‘the dark forest’. The dark forest occurs frequently in children’s books, novels and films as a sinister place. The forest has been, and continues to be a place to which people flee in times of war. Why? It can provide a hiding place. People build shelters for themselves, there is generally food to be had and they can make a bonfire to keep dangerous animals at bay or to provide heat for survival.

The dark condition is something most of us to varying degrees have been affected by in our lives, when we suddenly lose someone close to us or lose the courage to live. Or darkness affects our minds, and the great challenge is to return to life and find the light again: the light that makes us enjoy life and to wake up ready for our everyday challenges. Depending their belief, that spiritual light may come from above or below. Then there is the physical light that guides us through the darkness and helps us survive the dark winter, or the light at the end of the tunnel.

The exhibition will feature one 190×250 cm work and ten 170×160 cm works, all of which depict people in a ‘forest space’, where there is a source of light as a reference point: a physical lamp to help them on their way, a light in the darkness that they find in their soul, divine light or something entirely different. To make as great an impact as possible on the viewers’ senses, the exhibition will be a total installation. The entire floor will have a physical forest floor. There will be trees with light installations in them, large piles of branches with lights under them and a work consisting of a 3-metre-long rope ladder made of bent neon. Darkness will be a sensory experience and a challenge to visitors to enter the darkness, which people in some way or another have experienced: a space, in which our eyes need to adjust to the darkness before the motifs of the works emerge. I hope my project will kindle people’s interest, and I really hope to present this exhibition in Denmark after its run at the TRAFO Museum in Szczecin.

With best wishes,

René Holm