Willem de Rooij
*1969 in Beverwijk, the Netherlands
Lives in Berlin, works with installation and video
About the Work
Willem de Rooij is interested in paradoxes. He insists on clear positions, yet is always looking for shades and nuances. He asks whether meaning is inherent in things, or whether it is attached from outside. “In discussions and debates, I think it’s important to adopt a clear position,” he says: “But I’m always also looking for transitions and gradations. This two-sided approach probably explains why I’m interested equally in hard contrasts and in gradients and grey areas.” This kind of play on possible allusions and precisely calculated oscillation between explicit reference, specific material and its socio-political connotations are often found in de Rooij’s work. In his series Weavings, de Rooij took exploration of the space between material and meaning to extremes. These textile wall objects mounted on stretchers feature gradations of colour. Since 2009, they have been woven on a centuries-old loom outside Berlin. It is tempting to view the Weavings as de Rooij’s version of painting, or as his engagement with the handmade. But he reject both these interpretations. When viewed within such an abstract system of signs and attributions, a work of art is first and foremost a thing to which meanings adhere. And the artist is the person who defines this meaning with regard to the context, who attaches it, and who may also regulate its impact. And in some cases, no meaning is also a meaning. Then, a picture emerges even if there is no picture on the wall.