Artist Johannes VanDerBeek urges viewers to investigate the nature of mediums at his exhibit opening at Halsey McKay Gallery this weekend.
BELOW FROM LEFT: Falling Night, 2015, and Outlined Figure, 2015, by Johannes VanDerBeek.
When artist Johannes VanDerBeek became a father two years ago, he started seeing the physical world through his daughter’s eyes. “I tried to imagine what it would be like to experience nature without language—imagining things like leaves and flowers as simply phenomena,” says VanDerBeek. That impetus has become the body of work that the Brooklyn-based artist will show at Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton from August 29 to September 20.
This different artistic and personal approach lends itself well to VanDerBeek’s signature style of combining printmaking, painting, and sculpture to create pieces that are more texturally driven. “I like the challenge of forcing materials to be something they aren’t,” he says. “As simple as it sounds, it’s the act of looking and investigating that I seek most from my viewers."
A sculptor at heart, VanDerBeek views his wall-mounted works as objects rather than paintings. “In the past, I would pull pieces from a series of ongoing works that would act as counterpoints to each other,” he says about combining wall works with stand-alone sculptures. “This is the first show that I will do this solely with imagery.”
Although this is his first solo show in the Hamptons, VanDerBeek has a long-standing relationship with the East End. He grew up summering in Amagansett, where his father, the experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek, had a home. “I have such vivid memories of going on walks and feeling enveloped in the light and the terrain,” he says. This immersive aspect drives much of his work today and inspires his sister, the renowned photography artist Sara VanDerBeek, who lives and works in Springs.
Though VanDerBeek grew up around the bohemian arts community, it wasn’t until college, when he assisted the celebrated sculptor William King at this studio on Saddle Lane in East Hampton, that he felt the impact of the Hamptons’ artist enclave. “There’s something about being here that opens people up and unhinges their work,” he says. Johannes VanDerBeek will show from August 29 to September 20 at Halsey McKay Gallery, 79 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 604-5770