Thursday 10 June 2021


Adelhyd van Bender, folder #237, 1999-2014, 32 x 29 x 8 cm

Curated by Antonia Gaeta
June 18th - July 24th, 2021 
From Wall to Paper and Back Again

The corpus of work that Adelhyd van Bender developed in the decades before his death in 2014 presents a coherence that I like to define as serial. A horror vacui reveal an enthusiastic drive to explore a theme to its exhaustion. The works are urged by the artist's dedication to the study of symbols, ideas, formulas and motifs: all of them are representations of an imaginary and a search that is more like vertigo.

By anticipating some concept or trying to perceive a pattern in the artist's work, it becomes more clear - among other possible approaches - to opt, in this exhibition, for establishing a dialogical conversation between the physical space where Van Bender lived, his house, and the mental space translated into the sheets of paper, his drawings.

What we see in Hot Stuff is a selection from thousands of A3 and A4 sheets inside binders, once storaged in piles on the walls of the artist's house. Walls that also served as surfaces for drawings with patterns and geometric shapes of pure solids, elementary figures, cosmologies, doodles, words, sketches - some more complex, some slightly nodding, others overlapped and redrawn on top. They all looked more like an attempt to give an order to the universe.

Now, try to forget for a moment that we are in the Delmes & Zander gallery facing works of art and allow me to draw a parallel. Remember the first dialogue from Giordano Bruno's book On Infinity, the Universe and the Worlds (1584):

Elpinus: How is it possible that the universe is infinite?

Philotheus: How is it possible that the universe is finite?

Elpinus: Do you think this infinity can be demonstrated?

Philotheus: Do you think this finiteness can be demonstrated?

Elpinus: Of what extension are you speaking?

Philotheus: And of what limits do you speak?

Adelhyd van Bender’s work unfolds in infinite matrices of voracious thought. The drawings went through various stages: they were photocopied, worked on to insert coloured elements, cut out and pasted. The artist would highlight specific points, some commas and strokes, and then photocopy them again. Sometimes the drawings differed by a letter, and the sheets were worked over and over again in a kaleidoscopic synthesis of intelligibility. An extremely complex work in which ideas appear as eternal and immutable principles constituting an order. It is not a simple logical or abstract process; the artist brought heaven and earth together and proposed a grandiose vision of an infinite cosmos.

Fracastorius: Ad rem, ad rem, si iuvat; too long you have kept us in doubt.

Burquio: Present some argument already, Philotheus, for I shall have great fun listening to this fable or fancy.

Fracastorius: Modestius, Burquio: What will you say if at last the truth convinces you?

Burquio: Though it be true, I would not believe it; for it is not possible that this infinite can be understood by my head, nor digested by my stomach; though indeed, I wish it were as Philotheus says, for if by bad luck I should happen to fall out of this world, I would always find other lands.

The artist managed with his formal grammar to shake up the proportionality between man and cosmos, to raise metaphysical questions, to bring sensitive matter and intelligible matter together, to present an infinity of star worlds as a consequence of the axiom by which the divine essence is infinite in the magnetic fields of his sacred atomic system.

From this perspective, his drawings bear witness to a living universe full of infinite worlds, formulas, π, cubes and cabalistic symbols - a work as meticulous as it is obsessive, voluminous, colourful and with the smell of tobacco.

Antonia Gaeta