With They don’t know either, Christian Lethert Gallery is presenting Nelleke Beltjens’ second solo exhibition. Since her first show Fragments of the Parts (2009), the artist has been consistently developing her unusual and idiosyncratic approach to drawing.
Among the basic principles of her work is the fragmenting of the line, which is questioned as a fundamental drawing element, the artist breaking it up into numerous short marks that stand perpendicular to the extension of the line, thus transforming it into a rhythmic structure. In turn, as a result of the countless superimposed ›lines‹ running parallel and crosswise, structures come about that are difficult to define in terms of concept.
They are full of movement, characterized by abrupt changes in direction and different degrees of intensity and density, whereby the positive forms are always confronted with the negative areas of the white drawing paper in a way that attributes both an equal value. It is essential to the artist that her works may not be completely comprehended from any perspective view. Standing further away, the drawings are perceived as being rather vague due to the atmosphere they exude, though from close up they break up into countless individual elements, which we may no longer relate to one another.
Added to the abundance of drawing information in the new works of the »CLUSTER (color)« series is a highly complicated system of cuts in the paper, perceptible only from up close. They stem from the artist’s cutting out individual segments from the drawing paper, using them to guide her as she draws the marks, and then inserting them again in their exact original place. This working process, repeated hundreds of times, demands utmost concentration and precision. Another feature of the latest drawings by Nelleke Beltjens is the use of ink pens in assorted colors.
Whereas the earlier drawings were mostly rendered in a single color in black, blue, or green, lately the artist has been using combinations of six and more. For the first time, these also consist of warm color tones such as red, orange or dark brown. Due to the polyphonic effects of the colors, the drawn forms become even more intangible, sometimes going up in flying sparks and evoking emotions best described by comparing them with music. Indeed, Nelleke Beltjens’ drawings are closely associated with music. The latest works were drawn while listening to the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner or Mahler (as hinted at in the extremely dynamic, two-part, large-format work »Mahler Double #2«). The music flows into the drawing process as an atmospheric and rhythmic quality, though the works have nothing in common with the ›illustration‹ of musical phenomena.
The exhibition’s title They don’t know either is open and mysterious. And yet, its tendency derives from the artist’s aspirations to point out, by means of the special structure of her drawings, the complexity of our being and of all living conditions. What is intangible and indeterminable about our reality and our existence is the basic experience from which the drawings come about as a kind of abstract notation. The fact that all the purported experts in the field of politics and economics, philosophy, religion and the natural sciences fail to come up with definitive answers justifies for the artist the necessity of an art, which with its own means endeavors to show precisely what may not be captured in concepts.