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Reality Check

I strongly believe that beauty and engagement could reinforce each other. That is what my new exhibition Reality Check is about. It is a solo by visual artist Olphaert den Otter. From the 10th of November this exhibition will open in droog where Olphaert will be showing 28 paintings in egg tempera on paper and canvas/panel. They form a bridge between classic landscape painting and contemporary subject matter.

Olphaert’s paintings are based on reality: a report or a photo in the newspaper, a spot in the woods, the meagre possessions of a unhoused person… Yet the works are not realistic. At will, Olphaert omits or adds details from the image. For instance, he consistently leaves out all the people: “There is no story. There is image”. He paints landscapes, in which people left their traces, in which disastrous events took place, in which the natural environment underwent changes though the ages.

Through his sense of composition, colour and staging, he gives a newspaper photo or a seemingly insignificant place a soul. Den Otter paints beauty, but it is beauty without wellbeing. Because of their emphatic aesthetics, the paintings seem one-dimensional at first glance, but on closer inspection they prove to be very layered. It is precisely this aesthetic that heightens our perception. A wry beauty manifests itself in his work which does not smooth away life but exposes it in all its painfulness.

So I was blown away by his paintings immediately but the idea for an exhibition I got when I read his writings. Every Thursday Olphaert posts an image of one of his paintings on Facebook with an accompanying text. They are almost always written in retrospect, sometimes years after a painting has been completed. The connection can be very loose: a current event can evoke the memory of an older work, or an older work a new thought. In his stories he looks back and ahead. Text and image are both snapshots, from parallel worlds intersecting along the paths of Olphaert’s lasting peroccupations throughout the years. These texts form an integral part of the exhibition.


Also, we have some good news from the vineyard! While I am writing this newsletter, the first CAN REON grapes are being harvested. The 80-year-old vines have been revitalized in the past year and they have a surprisingly high yield. The 4700 new vines we have planted are all doing exceptionally well. We expect our first white wine in May-June and the first red wine autumn 2023. Everything of course completely ecological.

A new activity at CAN REON is a bird sing workshop on 6 November which will be led by biologist, environmental consultant and nature guide Pere Alsina I Bilbeny. He will align his explanations with sayings, legends, poems, traditions, cinema, music and art, following a unique methodology which allows us to recognize en memorize the songs of the birds. The workshop will be accompagnied by saxophonist Ferran Besalduch who will be improvising to bird song.

Cheers and until next

work by Olphaert den Otter


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