Contemporary artist Rachel de Joode (1979, NL) lives and works in Berlin. In her work, she often mixes mediums, particularly those of photography, sculpture, and most recently, painting. De Joode earned her diploma in time-based art from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.
‘My work bounces between the physical and the virtual, exploring the relationship between the three-dimensional object and its two-dimensional representation’ — Rachel de Joode.
For example, her Stacked Sculptures created between 2015 and 2017 consist of photographs of sculptural materials and gestures (squeezing, finger, and hand movements). These materials that are stacked on top of each other, form abstract blob shapes. And they are held by a kind of prosthetic armature. The works are taller than the average person (about 2 meters), which stimulates interaction with the visitor further. In addition, the flatness (10 mm thick) of the work causes a confusing and unsettling feeling because of the trompe l’oeil effect.
As for Sloppy Therapy, those works were created during the spring lockdown. She was thinking of the way we look at art in the digital age. In particular, the moment when we could gaze at the art alone, only on our own screens.
‘Sloppy Therapy is a commentary on the instinct to zoom in while looking at images on our phones. Zooming in is the standard these days, and the wider image is lost. There is now more zooming and swiping and scrolling over textures. This zoom instinct is changing how we interact with physical artworks.
Normally you stand in front of a painting and experience the whole painting in space, your eyes can’t zoom in like on your smartphone. Often, even in the exhibition space, the mobile phone is used to take photos (close-ups) of the object physically standing in front of you. It is precisely this ambiguity of observation that makes it exciting for me!’
De Joode often works with a found canvas. However she tries to forget everything she knows about the canvas itself. And instead, she explores it as a simple object with the appreciation of its materiality.
‘I work on the canvas in a sculptural way. The materials merge: paint is smeared, dripped or poured, the canvas itself is often cut, torn or crushed. Pigments, resin, glue, or paint are poured over or applied by hand. I strive to achieve a dadaistic naivety that seeks to rejoice in the canvas and its three-dimensional materiality.’
She also photographically documents the experiments with the canvas. And currently, she has built up an image archive of over 10,000 images of those experiments. While creating the final work, she processes images from her archive using Photoshop.
‘First I create a palette with which I can ‘paint’ a digital composition. Through the close-up, cropping, and abstract nature of the reworked images, the finished paintings appear textured. So that the viewer is drawn to their apparent materiality and tactility.’