KARLYN DE JONGH | Artist – Curator – Actor
Due to her remarkable career as an international curator, but also as an art actor, who inspired, among others Arnulf Rainer and Ben Vautier, or participated in a performance of the actionist Hermann Nitsch, Karlyn De Jongh is one of the extraordinary protagonists in the art scene. Now the Dutch artist is exhibiting her own art in Berlin for the first time.
Karlyn De Jongh, born in the Netherlands in 1980, studied art, philosophy and art history in the Netherlands and the USA between 1998 and 2007. She is the author of numerous articles and reviews on contemporary art. Between 2007 and 2016 she was co-organiser of Symposia (with Klaus Honnef) and, as curator, organised international art projects in Italy, Austria, the USA, Japan and the Netherlands. In the context of the Venice Biennale 2011, 2013 and 2015, she realised the exhibition „Personal Structures“ at Palazzo Bembo and the European Cultural Center, which earned her a reputation as a curator at international level – especially since world stars of contemporary art were invited to show their work, such as Marina Abramovic, Heinz Mack, Yoko Ono, Otto Piene or On Kawara. As an actor, Karlyn De Jongh collaborated with among others Arnulf Rainer, Heinz Mack, Ben Vautier, and Herman de Vries. In 2010 she was part of an „Aktion“ of the Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch („Orgien Mysterien Theater“).
Karlyn De Jongh was always also artistically active. Considering her biography, however, it is hardly surprising that the art of this artist – who moved from Venice to Berlin in 2014 – it is all about „communication“. Her current exhibition at Galerie Köppe Contemporary, shows a selection of recent paintings and paperwork. In addition, through a dialogue with works by among others Arnulf Rainer, Heinz Mack and Hermann Nitsch, De Jongh documents her curatorial and actionist ambitions.
There are two fixed points in the art of Karlyn De Jongh. These are on the one hand the act of writing and the word as such, on the other hand it is the colour. In the artist‘s paintings mostly one colour predominates, or the work shows colour nuances or gradations of a particular colour.
Determined by colour, light and structure, at first glance, stylistically the painting concept may recalls monochrome painting. De Jongh‘s mostly very powerful colour palette focuses on the basic colours blue, red and yellow. Embedded forms, patterns, words and lettering prevail in addition to linear and also lattice- and loop-like constructions. Sometimes these figurations give the canvas a haptic nuance.
Words – spokenor written – are instruments. Words can damage and destroy or cause fear and threats. But words can also soothe, comfort and heal. Words can carry lies, rage and aggression as well as sincerity, warmth and affection. Language has its own vitality, a special rhythm and an individual nuance.
Karlyn De Jongh combines the thinking about culture and communication with a painting that reminds of Palimpsest structures. The term „Palimpsest“ comes from codicology, the study of handwriting. It refers to older information-carriers, for example handwritten scriptures on an old document, which were re-formed by recent information and thus have an encrypted effect or, in their complexity, are no longer recognisable.
To her Script-paintings, De Jongh writes: „Artistically I am concerned with interpersonal communication in the broadest sense of the word, i.e. with language and writing. The works come into existence through a kind of manifested self-conversation. During the painting process, the thoughts, words and their implementation are one.“
By introducing words and textures charged with meaning, the work of Karlyn De Jongh is characterised in a special way. Words become painterly configurations. The handwritten words and phrases in her art seem to be come out of one continuous thought, applied in an actionist and rushfull way – sometimes maybe even with anger and vehemence. This expressive approach increases the dynamics of Karlyn De Jongh‘s painting and activates the canvases into atmospherically charged fields of energy.
Some textures or word formations are readable, others seem to have sunk into the colour. Some configurations completely refuse readability or they cannot be fully grasped – they keep their riddle. Thus, in the works of Karlyn De Jongh, a psychological impetus occurs, or a highly modern collective experience: the perception of the world only succeeds fragmentarily. Everything quickly gets in distance. Even what just happened, we often only remember vaguely. Our thinking is characterised by oblivion.
André Lindhorst, Jan. 2017