After a restoration and renovation lasting more than two years, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix opened the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam on 8 April 2006. The renovated museum for Dutch post-war visual art presents four exhibitions. With Picasso, Klee, Miró and modern art in The Netherlands, 1946-1958, the museum is the first to display the influence of the three major international artists on post-war Dutch modern art. In addition, there are two exhibitions by contemporary artists: MARIA ROOSEN with Maria’s Maria’s! and Tomas Schats with and Animations. Furthermore, under the title CoBrA, Cool Contemporary, Dutch post-war art from the museum’s own collection, the renewed collection presentation is on show.
Maria Roosen furnishes life with a magical sheen. She opens up ‘a secular world of wonders’, as Jennifer Allen writes in the recent artists’ book Maria’s (Amsterdam, 2005). With enormous sperm cells made of hand-blown glass adjoining transparent eyeballs with expanding and contracting pupils, Maria Roosen reflects in her work the processes of growth, transformation, acceleration and delay that are characteristic of the dynamics of the marvellous.
The solo exhibition Maria’s Maria’s! displays an abundant selection from the oeuvre that Maria Roosen (1957, Oisterwijk) has built up over the past ten years. Renowned sculptures such as the voluptuous milk cans, by means of which she represented the Netherlands at the Biennale of Venice in 1995, become components of a new spatial setting. They are combined with work that has been specially made for this exhibition. A museum wall is overgrown with irregular glass stars (Maria’s Maria’s!, 2006), while a sunflower of red wool winds through the monumental room (Blood Relatives, 2006).
The exhibition invites one to explore Roosen’s most important themes: fertility and growth, friendship and transience. In a society that seems to be moulded on hard facts and practical usefulness, Maria Roosen gives preference to imagination. She celebrates life in her work, in a range of materials. ‘An artist with green fingers,’ she calls herself. ‘I sow the seed and then call in the help of others in order to cultivate the crops.’ Roosen became famous with her cans, balls, spermatozoids, and breasts of coloured glass, created by professional glass-blowers. But her objects may also be made of wool, wood, or gold leaf. Her idea grows and matures in co-operation with craftspeople such as the carpenter or knitters who implement her new pedestal sculptures in MDF or create the woollen sunflowers.
The public enters a contemporary Wunderkammer, akin to the curiosity cabinets in which natural phenomena were put on display during the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. The cabinets were supposed to surprise, astonish and entertain visitors, and also teach them about the outside world. Roosen’s oeuvre achieves the same effect. She elevated a set of antlers to an artwork; a human skull was reproduced in confectionery. The ambiguity of these images, which originate in a process of association and transformation, is typical of her work. Simple objects gain eloquence by changes in scale and material. They acquire human traits or change from typically male into typical female symbols, such as a deceitfully sensual club.
Curved shapes consistently recur, right up to the ‘Friends’ Room’ that Roosen laid out with recent work. The walls are covered with photos of ‘close’ and ‘distant’ friends, each of whom has made a mask of an enormous ball of papier. The ‘self-portraits’ of the close friends are combined with the more abstract masks which arose from Roosen’s encounters during her participation in the Trienniale of Yokohama in Japan (2005). In het Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, the public is surrounded by all her friends: as participants and as targets of Roosen’s inventive study of the species.
In conjunction with Valiz Publishers, the publication Maria Roosen, Mijn Vrienden, (Maria Roosen, My Friends), (Amsterdam, 2006) will appear to accompany the exhibition.
Stedelijk Museum Schiedam
Hoogstraat 112 - Schiedam
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 10am-5pm. Closed on Mondays, 25 December and 1 January