Modern Pictures for Modern Rooms was an exhibition in London in 1936 showing art buyers how to live with modern painting in a modern interior.
It happened to be the same year Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times was released;1936 was in the middle of the world wide economic crisis.
In Modern Times people are struggling to take part in the rat race for survival in times of modernism, while in London a gallery tried another strategy to sell modernist art to survive the crisis in a country with a predominantly conservative taste.
More than 80 years later we live in a post-postmodern era but we still feel the tremors of the great social, economic and artistic modernist age that was the 20th century.
Rianne Groen – who closed down her gallery in Rotterdam only recently – co-operated with Billytown – the Hague platform that constantly struggles for new perspectives – to make a new Modern Pictures for Modern Rooms show with Lieven Hendriks (1970) and Thomas Trum (1989), in which she tries to take a fresh look at what decoration means in the context of art in daily life of the post-postmodern present.
Billytown’s space is hardly the place to create a cosy living room, but with some adaptations a place with familiar elements which suit a former school building was created as an environment for Hendriks’ and Trum’s works.
Abstraction (which historically became the hallmark of modernism) is clearly a principle of Trum’s lively material improvisations, while Hendriks brings back abstraction into hyper-reality with his trompe l’oeil paintings.
With its big windows the art doesn’t just seem to give context to Billytown’s space but also to the reality of street life outside the gallery.
Trum’s monumental One Purple Line seems to become part of the square outside Billytown.
© Villa Next Door 2019
Contents of all photographs courtesy to Lieven Handriks, Thomas Trum and Billytown, Den Haag
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