Artist Desk, 2017
Textile and aluminium
86 × 53 cm
Unique work, in a series of 10
For a few years, Nel Aerts is explicitly taking center stage in her work. During a residence in the Van Gogh house in Zundert (NL) in 2015, Aerts made a series of 100 ballpoint drawings of herself in different situations: working in her studio while smoking a cigarette, drinking wine in a bar, walking around town or lying on the bed. These drawings are full of references – both to moments from art history (like Vincent Van Gogh’s famous bedroom, or Marcel Duchamp’s Nue en descendant l’escalier), as to her own previous work, which she integrates into the interiors or which her painted persona is drawing in different settings. Of course, these 100 drawings are not all autobiographical – the artist makes an alter-ego of herself, a figure that can stage in all conceivable situations.
Over the years that followed the residence in Zundert, the 100 drawings further developed as large textiles and paintings on canvas. In these new works, Nel Aerts plays with materials and media, and with the simplicity of the simple black and white ballpoint drawings. The works become bigger and more abstract, simpler in line, but also more colorful and more expressive. In one of the works from this series, the character (originally a self-portrait of the artist’s work in her studio) is abstracted to such an extent, that it almost resembles one of Nel Aerts’ older expressive, colorful figures. The work Nel Aerts made especially for our latest Billboard Series is based on this last painting. It’s a small watercolor of a similar figure, drawing at a desk. Elaborating on this watercolor, Nel Aerts translated the motive of the artist desk to a series of ten unique textile collages.