NOSTALGIC ABOUT THE FUTURE is the second solo exhibition by Michael Van den Besselaar at Black & White Gallery. The exhibition highlights the continuing vitality of Van den Besselaar’s paintings building upon his long-term relationship with architectural context. This enduring relationship began in 2005 with an engagement at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) in New Smyrne Beach, FL, where he started working on the still ongoing “Land of the Free” series, and continues in the new “Nostalgic about the Future” series, which shares the title of the exhibition. The worlds in these paintings with their many confusing aspects and layers of complexity are at once familiar and unnatural – they are real rooms and spaces inflected by a strong imagination that slips into dreamy fantasy. A mélange of architectonic forms signify the idyllic future to which Van den Besselaar’s paintings so eloquently attest and is a metaphor for a utopian gesture of shared public concerns in the future to a somber sense of the past along with a view of the present as confronted by uneven and unpredictable historical trajectory.
Shortly before his death in 1940, Walter Benjamin famously observed that “There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time the document of barbarism”. This apocalyptic yet redemptive concept of history deeply relates to the psychedelic visionary interiors and landscapes in this show encapsulating a telling historical ambivalence at once hopeful in its vision of the future and yet harsh in its view of what precedes it.
Michael Van den Besselaar lives and works in Paris, France. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, The Hague, in The Netherlands (1988) and is the recipient of several prestigious awards, such as the Haagse Salon Publics Prize, Haagse Salon Prize, the Grant Startstipendium, and the Karel Klinkenberg Prize. Van den Besselaar’s work is in major private and public collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Den Haag, The Netherlands, the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands and others.