Bach wrote thirty variations on an elaborate theme, now known as the Goldberg Variations.
In neither of the variations the theme on which they are based is recognisable.
Each variation is different in character, mood, tempo, rhythm and technique.
They only share the facts that they are all based on the same harmonic structure, and that they are all in the same key or in the parallel minor key.
The whole work may last as long as an hour and twenty minutes or even an hour and a half, but it never fails to keep you listening from the beginning to the end.
Seeing Jos van Merendonk’s (1956) present exhibition at PARTS Project, a presentation of twenty-four paintings, all one by one metre and – of course! – all of them Merendonk-green, reminded me of Bach’s grand set of variations.
Not just for the concept but also for the sheer variety of ideas.
On one hand they make you want to walk from one painting to the next, just to know how the next one looks like, on the other hand they make you stop in front of each painting to see everything – and i mean everything! – in it..
(Ah, yes, painting is still a fascinating business!)
They all have their own individuality and logical or illogical construction, and they are all made with an intense dedication.
Some works are relatively old – the oldest is from 1991 – others are from as recent as 2020.
In fact, from the second painting onwards every third painting is from the same 2020 series which are purely painted copies of earlier collage paintings.
However, the copies are not just copies; they have become translations, and, as such, works in their own right.
In the mean time the other sixteen paintings are a fascinating showcase of different developments in Van Merendonk’s painting (and there are more themes and variations in them too).
This is another memorable show in the PARTS Project series, austere as well as versatile.
– By the way, in the Goldberg Variations every third variation is a canon -.
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© Villa Next Door 2021
Contents of all photographs courtesy to Jos van Merendonk and PARTS Project, Den Haag
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