Marije Gertenbach believes historical artworks reflect the communal values of another time and place. For RijksakademieOPEN 2015 she was particularly inspired by the interior of the world’s first private bathroom, built for a pope in the 16th century. Its frescos are an instruction manual for its use and reveal how society at the time thought about the relationship between body and spirit. Gertenbach extrapolates these collective ideas into the present, that is perceived as individualistic, by creating a contemporary equivalent. She focuses mostly on the space’s emotional expressivity: is yesteryear’s emotion still recognisable today?
Gertenbach tells stories and evokes atmosphere, in the past mostly in figurative painting, less so nowadays. She has conducted extensive research into materials and techniques. After studying frescos in Tuscany she analysed which emotions can be conjured up using various types of paint, like mineral paint and tempera. With these findings Gertenbach transforms her studio to a theatrical setting in which the visitor plays a central role.

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Photographs: Sanna Gertenbach

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Photographs: Gert Jan van Rooij

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The sum of the body, silicate paint, fresco and caseïne paint on the wall, 520x530x620 cm., 2015
RijksakademieOPEN 2015

In addition to The sum of the body there is a publication (30 editions) about the layers underneath the paint and the inspirations for the work. You can order the publication by sending an email to marijegertenbach@gmail.com (costs: €25,-)

Photographs: Sanna Gertenbach and Gert Jan van Rooij