Sex is Sentimental is the NYC solo gallery debut for Dutch artist, Erik Van Lieshout. It is about love and art — and the crisis created by the contradiction of their collusion.
It is about corruption, failure and the impossibility of love, and as well, of art.
Mostly it’s a story of the conflict an artist possesses within his or her practice — and the love required to ultimately resolve and “complete” a work of art.
Van Lieshout has staged (literally) a new film work. A complete departure from the confrontational situational narratives for which he is so well-known, Sex is Sentimental explores in an abstracted language the drama that exists between Van Lieshout and his artwork.
The artist is alone, captured by a rogue camera — the result of which is a non-narrative film in which one is witness to the artist’s interior monologue of love and struggle. He interacts with animated drawings that invoke his muse, acting as surrogates for his great love. But in these drawings he begins to blur his actions of art-making and love-making. The confusion escalates. The climax occurs half-way through the film, as the artist realizes the aesthetics of love can be too saccharine. This revelation compels the artist to restrain his love, thereby allowing the art to take over, and so Van Lieshout begins to make new work.
Passersby will already be given a hint of the impending crisis; written in huge black letters on the gallery’s exterior walls, seen from the street, are the words NEW WORK. This bold expression leads the visitor to discover, on their own, whether love conquers art or perhaps just the opposite? Or to be cliché (too late), perhaps one may believe, that love conquers all.
The film is presented with a large group of erotically-charged paintings and drawings inspired by the artist’s real life lover, but also are consequence of performing acts of art.
Erik is in Love. And Thank God for it…in this current catastrophic climate, perhaps love remains the best crisis of all?