Jan van der Ploeg is a skilled designer and excellent draughtsman who navigates between innovation and familiarity, mischievousness and pragmatism. As a problem solver van der Ploeg approaches a given site, public or private, and with a refined abstract vocabulary he dramatizes architecture and place. Organising information and assigning it active meaning is a role shared by both the artist and the designer. Yet distinct from the graphic arts, van der Ploeg conveys a desire to communicate abstractions and ideals that lay beyond function kindling the extra-ordinary and the unexpected.
With colour, repetition and scale, van der Ploeg eschews static functional design dialogue, opting instead for a lively visual responsiveness to his work on exhibition at Two Rooms. His paintings, selected from the Warriors series are graphic and small in scale, however observation from a distance is required to understand the visual patterns and motifs comprising their composition. Brilliant and optically intense, van der Ploeg’s paintings and moving images work to formally convey the poetics of space and reconsider the architecture in which they are exhibited.
With the video work Warriors, he actively engages the audience through sound and image. Holding still for long periods of time, the image suddenly shifts and flashes cueing small bursts of sound. Like many of his wall painting installations, Warriors engages with notions of repetition, space mediation and visual disruption. The artist has developed a colour vocabulary with his work consisting of black, white and contrasting saturated colours. Links between van der Ploeg’s painting practise and his moving images proliferate. Utilising a monochromatic palette of black and white, the lack of colour belies the powerful intensity of the work. A dizzying kaleidoscopic piece that appears to extend out far beyond the two-dimensional physicality of the support, it challenges the viewer’s negotiation of space and the stability of the image, but also produces a painterly illusion.
Warriors links painting, sculpture, system and seriality. The title references the New Zealand professional Rugby League team which he was introduced to by, and attended matches with, the late Julian Dashper. Van der Ploeg, who lives and works in Amsterdam, has established many connections in New Zealand’s art world since first visiting in 1992 and has subsequently researched the work of Gordon Walters and other New Zealand abstract painters. Van der Ploeg is in New Zealand to make this project and to participate in three other exhibitions this month, notably Julian Dashper and Friends at the City Gallery, Wellington that features a large-scale wall painting.