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» Rebis

Mdf, glass, Perspex, slide projection, duraclear x-ray print, crayon, led and tube lights, statue from Togo from the collection of George Degenhart, 2012.

The installation Rebis was created for the exhibition Polderlicht@home at the house of the artist George Degenhart in Amsterdam.
With his paintings and sculptures, George Degenhart has wanted to move away from classical art forms such as the portrait, the landscape and the still life. Throughout the years he has explored abstraction to an ever-greater extent. His sculptures and paintings do not tell a story. It is not personal expression that interests him; he is seeking a universal emotion, an understanding or appreciation (in Dutch ‘ontroering’), which accounts for everybody.

According to Degenhart a similar universal understanding can be discovered in various pieces from the collection of African sculptures and masks, which he keeps at home. When placed in the right context, they can be understood by large groups of people. These sculptures were not made as art works, but as fetish images or objects used in rituals. They were made according to a set recipe. Degenhart started collecting these statuettes not because of the story they tell, but rather for their ability to be understood by people other than himself.

Contrary to Degenhart, Doina Kraal does examine the stories and/or histories of objects, the secrets they may hold. The portrait, the landscape and references to the bible, religions and fairy tales do appear frequently in her work. Different stories end up getting linked, enabling cross-interpretation.

With the piece Rebis Kraal explores both ‘the abstract’ inspired by the work of George Degenhart as well as other ways of abstracting, amongst others inspired by the (figurative) African collection of Degenhart.

Fetish statuettes are often filled with a magical, vegetal or herbal substance or with (precious) metals. Kraal dissected and investigated a selection of the fetish statuettes, amongst others by making X-ray photographs of them.

“The Rebis (from the latin res bina, meaning double matter) is the end product of the alchemical magnum opus or great work. After one has gone through the stages of putrefaction and purification, separating opposing qualities, those qualities are united once more in what is sometimes described as the divine hermaphrodite, a reconciliation of spirit and matter, a being of both male and female qualities as indicated by the male and female head within a single body.”*

*Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebis

Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

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