Jan van der Ploeg’s vibrant exhibition Lyrics playfully prompts the viewer with the provision of a musical analogy for his paintings. While these compositions may resemble musical notation for some, they retain a slippery quality that evades singular interpretation. It is fitting then that his trademark rounded form with its pointed tail is often referred to as a ‘flipper’.
The exhibition title also evokes the term ‘lyricism’, more commonly associated with descriptions of biomorphic abstraction than with the cool, hard-edged forms of its geometric counterpart. Yet van der Ploeg’s precisely rendered works hum with the dynamic energy and colourful expression we might associate with the lyricism of Kandinsky and the attendant association of that artist’s interest in synaesthesia. This strange associative capacity for one sense to be translated into another – in this case producing ‘visual music’ – is evoked by van der Ploeg here. It is also echoed in his wider practice, in the bold stripes of his public art gallery commissions for the ongoing numbered series of Wall Paintings, all of which could be likened to nightclub or carnival-themed interior designs.
There is a poetics to this palette. Some pulse with lush, luminous pop colours, while others have a restful, muted quality with the tone of the exposed linen or canvas resonating with the picture plane. The continual reworking of these formal elements innovates endless singular combinations of colour and form.
This may not be an ideological exhibition project, but it is certainly an experiential one. As van der Ploeg continues to test and remix the language of abstraction, the experience of the architectural space the work inhabits becomes central.