Billytown, Helena van Doeverenplantsoen 3, 2512 ZB The Hague, Netherlands

Ide André: Just a Satisfying Spiral

6 March - 2 May 2020


Review by John Gayer

There is something very compelling about Ide André’s ‘Just a Satisfying Spiral’ that impresses itself on the viewer right upon entry. The airy exhibition hall not only bolsters the lively and idiosyncratic nature of the works by giving them ample space to breathe, but it also suites the dynamism that pervades the show’s constituents. Viewers quickly notice that they are in a transitional zone. Mixing works that are still in progress with completed pieces that appear to have found their rightful places on the walls, the space it is part gallery, part artist’s studio and more. The ‘more’ is linked to the presence of sound equipment—coiled and uncoiled cables, microphone stands, speakers and a guitar—peppered across the floor. They have been left in situ by Broken Toaster Records, the collective of which André is a member, following the exhibition opening’s hours-long performance. Like many of the elements here, they wait expectantly for the artist and his collaborators to shake things up again, as more events are to occur during the exhibition’s run.

Remarkably varied and eye-catching paintings of spirals form the visual core of André’s show. Produced by pouring and splattering paint and then tipping the canvas to make it run this way or that way, the outcome of his efforts references the best of Helen Frankenthaler’s stain painting technique and David Alfaro Siqueiros’ idea of ‘controlled accidents’. Movement is, clearly, central to André’s practice and is demonstrated in these paintings through the botchy distribution of media, the flow of wet paint through the canvas and the tattered edges that define the spirals’ arced spokes. The expressive shapes conjure visions of Japanese throwing stars with curved blades, pinwheels and cartwheeling cephalopods.

The inclusion of shells, text, the prospect of more performances and a worktable displaying sketches and reference material draws attention to additional forms of motion and sequential progressions. The Fibonacci sequence, for example, manifests in the snail shells that André has interspersed among the paintings. In addition to the shells that cap the ends of metal pins protruding from the walls, two more appear to be gliding up the text work’s large chartreuse paper sheets. Silently reading through the alliterative poem not only emphasises the visual and aural properties of the letter ‘S’, but also corroborates its presence elsewhere. André has placed it on many of the snail shells and some of his smaller paintings. The recitation of the poem during the performance ‘SWOOPY SHAKE, SILVER SNAKE’ (2020)—the only component of the exhibition that has a title—is augmented by moments when the letter’s pronunciation is stretched into a hiss.

Presented in the middle of his six month-long Billytown residency, ‘Just a Satisfying Spiral’ accentuates the making stages of the project, rather than its outcome. By extending his research of the spiral’s image from the confines of the studio to the gallery, André’s presentation de-mystifies the project’s unfolding and transgresses the stasis that suffuses numerous gallery presentations. This event-driven portion of André’s residency exposes viewers to unexpected experiences and associations. The manner in which André orchestrates the conjunction of diverse elements is refreshing to behold.

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