ABN AMRO Art Award 2016
Jury's Report

With its decision to grant the ABN AMRO Art Award to Marijn van Kreij, the jury has chosen an investigative artist who has his own very distinct visual language. In Van Kreij’s oeuvre, consisting of drawings, paintings, collages, videos and installations, the process of duplication plays a key role. To this end, he utilizes various, often manual methods of reproduction and tools like scanners and photocopiers.

In his work Van Kreij finds a connection with historical work by artists from the past – the legacy of modernism in particular – as well as with music and visual culture in the broader sense. For example, he has reproduced pages from art books in monumental paintings, used live footage of Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My for a video piece, and conceived a series of envelope drawings, in which so-called security patterns – abstract motifs on the inside of envelopes – were used as source material.

Van Kreij recaptures images, as it were, and reuses these entirely in his own manner, distancing himself from the authority of the author and elevating nondescript details to new works of art. In his series of ‘double drawings’, for instance, Van Kreij shows us two sheets covered with intuitive scribbles and jotted-down notes. At first they appear to be perfectly identical copies of each other. But with closer consideration, we discern differences: a blotch that is slightly larger here; a line that extends further there. Each act appears to be a repetition of his initial spontaneous action. With this, Van Kreij playfully questions not only ideas about the subconscious, but also those related to authenticity and authorship. In more recent work, the artist repeats small fragments from paintings by artists like Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Gunta Stölzl in washy renderings on large sheets of paper. Existing imagery is deformed, its meaning becoming ambiguous.

The jury views Van Kreij as a significant representative of his generation, valuing the artist's contemporary stance demonstrated in the way he raises 'non-subjects' and ordinary details to the level of art, as well as in his manual approach to appropriating images amidst the current age of digital and online visual culture. The mentality from which Van Kreij's work arises seems, on the one hand, to be greatly determined by the spirit of the times – in which digital technology has helped erase the distinction between the original and the copy, and images can be multiplied infinitely. On the other hand, he makes use of the age-old tradition of imitating in view of gaining a deeper understanding of art; and in a sense the execution of his work can almost be called craftsmanlike. This, in the jury's opinion, is what makes Van Kreij among the most interesting and promising artists of his generation.

The ABN AMRO Art Award aims to be a stimulus for talent in the Netherlands. The quality and singularity of the work are principal criteria. Marijn van Kreij has been chosen as an artist who has a strong and idiosyncratic body of work that continues to develop. His long-term investigation of the meaning and effects of the (reused) image has resulted in subtle yet powerful work. Though the artist has presented his work in major exhibitions in the Netherlands, it remains relatively unknown to a wider Dutch audience. The jury is pleased to grant the 2016 ABN AMRO Art Award to Marijn van Kreij.

Members of the jury for the 2016 ABN AMRO Art Award:
Lex ter Braak, Director, Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht
Danila Cahen, Curator, ABN AMRO kunstcollectie
Bart Rutten, Head of Collections, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Berend Strik, visual artist
Silvia Zonneveld, Managing Director, ABN AMRO MeesPierson/Private Wealth Management

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