A Shallow Wade is the title of a new exhibition that shows Americana distilled through an outsider’s perspective, that of Rotterdam artist Ron van der Ende. Through his process of assembling large wall-hung collages of wood, he has salvaged doors, furniture, and other building fragments and deconstructed them, leaving worn paint in tact on skinned timber. These parts are collected and cut to fit into exact spaces. Finding evidence and scenes from Western societies and mass media, he examines cultural monuments which have informed identities globally.
These six wooden hulls, made big and light, are feats of intricate detail that would satisfy a model maker’s desire for exactitude. They show us icons raised from the dead – a diamond worn by Elizabeth Taylor, the Cadillac Limo I driven by R. Reagan adorned with crumpled striped flags, and the shell of a Dodge, the Number 12 not in working order. Finishing nails make seams as rivets or stitches. Van der Ende is aiming at surface and alluding to depth, making image-products akin to those found in print and video media, with a few added inches of reality.
The NASCAR car is white from a distance, and a mosaic of color and texture up close. Beige and gray expand upon approach to reveal dabs of rainbow’d light, bold pixels on a glossy surface. But it is ghostly, a relic of frivolous gas consumption as sport, an emblem stripped of its power. In “Limo I” the car appears tank-like in shades of tombstone gray, steel on black matte plates, and silvery reflections in the chamber.
Mounted photographs next to Limo I show guns, jets, flags, and landscapes dominated by human presence. Other images between the sculptures include scenes of mud, flood and piled up junk, interiors of gutted cars, explosions, collapsed plywood homes, and plain shacks standing steady. These images might be meaningful, strengthening pathways between common symbols and forms, or maybe they are red herrings, disparate sources of inspiration for the artist that propel us to draw up connections. Images display famous characters, workers, and their things, and in wood we see flags, products of factories, and items of sport and luxury. And, in front of us is art for sale, participating in the wealth-making world it critiques.
A street of rowhouses in New Orleans is imagined and remade by the artist in miniature in Shotgun Shack Row. Prairie Church is another homage to simple, effective architecture. Design practices that used to be common knowledge have gained mystical qualities here, becoming ancestors that tell of colonies who have survived and flourished.
The artist has been honing his skills making these intricate models for years now and collecting many tiny parts for use. A Shallow Wade will remain on exhibit until May 2nd at Ambach & Rice Gallery in Seattle, WA. It is Ron van der Ende’s second solo show in the US. He graduated in sculpture from the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Rotterdam, NL in 1988. He has had numerous shows in the Netherlands and exhibited extensively throughout Europe, and participated as a member of artist collective/gallery Expo Henk until 1997. Public and private collections that own his work include Bouwfonds Kunstcollectie and Historisch Museum Rotterdam.