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How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1
Ruth Van Beek, Rehearsal 1, 2014 © Ruth van Beek and The Ravestijn Gallery

Ruth van Beek »

How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1

Exhibition: – 27 Apr 2019

Wed 27 Mar 18.30:00

Ncontemporary Project Room

Via Lulli 5
20143 Milano
Wed-Sat 15-19


Via Lulli
20143 Milano

+39 02-87280910


Wed-Sat 15-19

How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1
Figure 7, 2017 © Ruth van Beek / Courtesy The Ravestijn Gallery

The Ravestijn Gallery Amsterdam, in cooperation with MC2 Gallery Milan, are proud to present How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1, a solo show by Dutch artist Ruth van Beek at the NContemporary Project Room Milan.

Ruth van Beek’s work originates in her ever-growing image archive. The images, mainly from old photo books, are her tools, source material and context. Van Beek physically intervenes within the pictures. By folding, cutting, or adding pieces of painted paper, she rearranges and manipulates the image until her interventions reveal the universe that lies within them. Merely by suggestion, van Beek triggers the imagination, and therefore the discomfort, of the viewer: passive human hands are animated, objects turn into characters, and abstract shapes come to life. The original image may have been taken out of context, but the familiar imagery – the formal photography of an instruction book, a clearly displayed object, or a staged action – remains recognizable, and thus speaks to our collective memory. Contrasting elements engage in conversation in van Beek’s work: the dead past coming to life; the literal and the abstract; displaying and concealing expressively; both the limitation and the endless possibility of an archive.

How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1
Untitled (figure32) 2018 © Ruth van Beek / Courtesy The Ravestijn Gallery

In a series of exhibitions Ruth investigates the role of her latest artist book How to do the Flowers as a manual, connector and generator for new work. Hereby bringing the viewer closer to the origins of her work. The same risks will be taken as in the artist’s studio. Circumstances are created in which playing, searching, intuition and humour can play the leading role.

The startingpoint for this second exhibition in the series, will be the large format collage Rehearsal 1 and the book How to do the Flowers. What happens when these two works are brought together in one room? Can the book function as a script for the figures in the collages, transforming them into actors? What arrangements can be made? What new scenes will appear? In the presentation the walls will become the stage and a group of works from different times will be brought together.

About Rehearsal 1

In 2014 Ruth started making large format collages. In these works different characters come together in staged scenes. Composition is fixed and conversations between the figures are less hybrid than in the smaller individual works. Therefor they ask for a whole new way of looking and constructing, bringing the maker in unfamiliar situations. You can see the unease and trouble of the maker clearly in the work Rehearsal 1. It is the most chaotic of the large works. As if the characters, together with the maker, are brought together in the frame of the work and need to get used to eachother. Still unaware of what their role in the company shall be. Getting ready for action, preparing to start the play.

How to do the Flowers

Making books has always been part of Ruth’s practice. As a natural concequence of the destruction of books to collect material, she makes new books that bring order and context within the artist’s oeuvre.

Her latest book is an extensive manual book. Hundreds of images and try-outs for collages come together on the pages in unexpected combinations. They provide the viewer with context for the collages, reveal the underlying work proces and at the same time compose a personal guide for making new work. By focussing on the actions and letting go of the original context, Van Beek stimulates the imagination and with that the inconvenience of the viewer. Passive human hands are animated and become activators of the silent objects. With their touching, pinching and caring they help the viewer in their understanding of the material. Objects become characters and abstract forms come to life.
The title How to do the flowers is a reference to the origin of large parts of the archive. Books about housekeeping, books that explain to us how to live, how to do the garden, arrange flowers, or hang the curtains. It is a question and at the same time a restriction. This way and no other way should it be done. A compelling guideline, doomed to be violated and therefore produce failures.

How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1
Untitled (The Arrangement), 2012 © Ruth van Beek / Courtesy The Ravestijn Gallery
How to do the Flowers, Act 2 / Rehearsal 1
How to do the Flowers published by Art Paper Editions (Ghent, BE) & Dashwood Books (New York, USA)
ISBN 9789490800871 / 15,5 x 21 cm / 508 pages / colour & black-white illustrations
paperback design: Jurgen Maelfeyt and Ruth van Beek