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“The F Line & other Demons” Brooklyn, New York, 1996

“La Linea F y otros Demonios” Brooklyn, New York, 1996

Detail

mixed media on canvas, overall size 300 x 425 cm

Erik van der Grijn “The F Line and other Demons”

Anita Shapolski Gallery, New York, 1994

By Elizabeth Neuman

Erik Adriaan van der Grijn is a painter’s painter. This is his second New York show –the first since he moved here from Belgium in the spring of this year. “The F Line and other demons I, II and III” are all paintings he has made in his studio in Brooklyn.

The centerpiece is the impressive “F Line” wall (118 x 167 inches), based on his personal drama of events, focusing on his travels on the F line subway from his studio to Manhattan. A combination of multiple layers of brilliant cadmium yellow on an immense optical field of black and white emanate from a core of black geometric shapes. Erik van der Grijn, born in Voorburg in Holland, studied at the Royal College of Art in the Hague, before spending twenty years in Ireland, where he started painting walls, and where I first learned about his work, when he showed his Hard Edge Realism at David Hendriks Gallery, introduced by Sir Basil Goulding, the leading contemporary art gallery of its day in Dublin. A review by Dorothy Walker of that show noted the subtitle could have read “Song of the Road” as the realism was entirely about the road signs of Ireland – black and yellow warning signs of possible upcoming danger.

He has been profoundly affected by the contrasts provided by these two colors ever since. Van der Grijn is a European painter of the old fashioned school. A follower of Malevich, whose mission was “to free art from the burden of the object”, and Mondriaan, who was a most important pioneer of geometric abstract art, van der Grijn presumably has been influenced by the De Stijl school of the country of his birth, and admits also to a Dutch sense of order. He is a very disciplined painter, concerned that each element of his work is counterbalanced, so that the rhythmic effect of the finished piece makes logical sense, and becomes unforgettable as a Bach fugue performed in it’s entirely. Van der Grijn uses his walls to present his vision of the current state of events as he perceives and feels it. This includes Berlin “Der Mauer im Kopf” (1994) and Sarajevo (1992). Now New York is added to the list. Contemplating the F-line, we realize that subways, as lives, are about origins and destinations, about birth and death. Anyone who wishes to witness a modern-day painter, extraordinary in his vision, thoughtfulness and feeling, and in his sensitivity to the continuum which exists between safety and danger, should not miss an encounter with the van der Grijn’s “F Line and other demons”.

At very least, it will bring a new awareness, a new way of looking at the world, and provide us with a warning, as we go about our daily travels.