Over the last two decades Teun Hocks has come to international fame with drawings, large-scale hand-painted photographs and videoworks most of which feature the artist himself involved in some burlesque or tragic-comic situation, open to the imagination of the viewer. For his recent exhibition at TORCH Gallery he created a series of new works that once more draw us into his theatre of the absurd, a world in which a solitary –smile-less yet endearing—middle-aged man relentlessly fights against everything but spectacular odds. Kind of an anti-hero à la Buster Keaton as Janet Koplos writes in her essay for Hocks’ survey catalogue available at the gallery, the artist’s alter ego comes to embody the fate of humanity in the face of its unavoidable failure to which the only possible and ultimate answer seems to be a quite smile, rather than laughter. There is a sense of amused resignation in Hock’s work that cushions the harshness of the world. Banality and uselessness are no life setbacks but existential thrilling givens. Lunacy is a fulfilling form of survival –the artist seems to say.
Yet, although Hocks’ work displays the immediate clarity of a confession, it constitutes the result of a complex process of creation. Hocks begins sketching possible compositions on paper which he then uses as blueprints for his painted backdrops against which he sets himself. Performing the action on his own, he then captures the scene with the help of a black-and-white photograph, which he then blows up to billboard size and colours by hand with thin layers of diluted oil paint. The result is an aesthetic language that blurs the limit between photography and painting, theatre and the visual arts. Both the subject and the manner it is materialized lead the viewer into a state of suspended attention in which the eye surrenders to optical plays and thanks to which the soul finds peace with the ordinary madness of everyday life.
1016 RN Amsterdam