Frank Havermans has a clear concept of art creation. Almost all of his works are named in the same manner - the names of his architectural works usually start with ‘KAPKAR,’ followed by a number, and the names of his works related to urbanization usually start with ‘TOFUD,’ also followed by a number. The materials he uses are relatively simple as well – he mainly uses timber and architectural metals. Before he creates a piece of work, Haverman does plenty of researches and often creates his works site-specifically. This is also the reason why some of his works are permanently kept at the places they were created. With the city Chongqing in mind, we have mainly selected from the artist’s ‘TOFUD’ projects. Among our selections, some use Chongqing as the object of study or are created in Chongqing themselves. These are site-specific works. Therefore, for the Chinese name of this exhibition, we have decided to use ‘临时工作室’ (translates as ‘temporary studio,’ in reference to the artist’s method of creating his works site-specifically.)
Taking ‘TOFUD#Chongqing-BB2’ as an example, this piece of work was created in Chongqing in 2016. It is based on the relationship between Chongqing’s unique type of laborers ‘Bangbang’ (professional porters in Chongqing who use bamboo sticks as tools for their work) and the city Chongqing. The signature bamboo (or wooden) stick held on the bangbang’s shoulder is transformed by Havermans into something with a different look – one with a cross-shaped cross section. If this piece of work was not accompanied by the photograph of bangbang sticks, it would be very hard for the audience to build the connection between the work and the manual labor tool it represents. In the process of urbanization, machines gradually replace manual labors. While the city is expanding at an extremely rapid speed, bangbang men are disappearing from the urban scene at a similarly rapid speed. Havermans’s stick is not round-shaped – it has edges and corers. One could imagine that it must be very painful to use Havermans’s stick to carry any heavy parcels, similar to the ways part of the population have been struggling painstakingly to adapt to the ever-faster pace of the modern day. There is an object suspending from the stick by a thin wooden stick; it looks like a black rock that’s cut into pieces, then re-assembled into a futuristic-looking object; this object actually stands for the ‘Mountain City’ Chongqing, which suspends in a seemingly dangerous manner in midair. The tension and stress that faces the entire city of Chongqing is thus expressed subtly.
Other more two-dimensional works, for example this huge drawing on the wall is named ‘INFRA,’ the namesake of this exhibition. (‘INFRA’ as in the English word ‘infrastructure,’ which refers to the infrastructure construction.) It is a unique combination of manmade landscape: the huge black shadow is the plans of various seaports in the world; these plans are layered on top of each other by the artist disregarding their geographical locations, therefore the shadow looks quite unfamiliar to our eyes. Seaports as three-dimensional existences are converted into two-dimensional objects on this drawing. The shapes stand out as bizarre and the composition of the drawing is highly disproportionate – it jumps at the audience in the exhibition room. From an overlooking perspective, the artist shows us – the Creators – what our needs have given birth to in an unusual way. These ports come into being through land reclamation, which is a direct reflection of how humans have been developing and expanding their cities. There is another group of mixed media drawings, which are selections from the year of 1995 (when Havermans initially started drawing) till the present day. Each and every one of these drawings are based on the artist’s imagination. The process goes like this: the cardboard is first covered in a thick layer of putty, then Havermans draws patterns that resemble architectural plans on it. He also adds tiny dots and extended lines to the patterns, and the drawing would look like a miniature city plan. Havermans meditates while he draws, and tries to explore the extended boundaries. Apart from two-dimensional elements, layers can be added to the drawings too– one layer of putty, two layers of putty, one layer of ink, two layers of ink… Similar to the expansion of cities, these expansions and layering may or may not carry on with a sense of direction.
Every work contains a large amount of information and delicate details that are worth pondering on; the materials he uses and the shapes he adopts are metaphors; behind their clean and simple looks hides their complex relationships with the society and with the human desires. We hope that through this exhibition, our audience will learn about the methods and works of Frank Havermans, and also see how the artist’s is constantly reflecting and practicing in his art creation.
黄中华 Huang Zhonghua
杨 述 Yang Shu
李丽 Li Li
张小吧 Zhang Xiaoba
张迎映 Zhang Yingying
. 22nd, 2017 to Dec. 03rd, 2017