Light is created by means of colour against a black, white or coloured ground. Steven Aalders (b. 1959) produces paintings that are simple in form but complex in their handling of colour. They are reminiscent of the work of De Stijl (in particular Mondrian) or of Minimal Art and it is this Modernist tradition that is most help in understanding Aalders’ work. Driven by a desire for beauty, he creates an infinitely subtle interplay of colours, planes and lines. However, the material world remains relevant, as can be seen from the titles of his works, which often refer to time and space. This winter, Aalders exhibits his work at the Gemeentemuseum in dialogue with works that he himself has selected from the museum collections.
Pictures by Piet Mondrian, Jan Schoonhoven, Donald Judd, Ben Akkerman, John McLaughlin and Josef Albers will be combined with Aalders’ paintings to create an installation in the museum’s Projects Gallery. Aalders usually works in series, producing constant variations on a set pattern. The works will be hung at varying heights to form a single cohesive constellation, equivalent to a ‘constructive space’.
Aalders is an artist who also writes about art. His deeply considered visual language is the result both of his research into art history and of his own visual experimentation. Inspired by the Modernism of Judd and Mondrian, he recognises the limits that these great Modernists explored and defied and is impelled to go further. He creates his paintings by gradually building up layer upon layer of oil paint until he has achieved the intended effect of light and space on the canvas.
Aalders’ paintings bear witness to an enormous desire for visual beauty and purity. The clarity, simplicity and harmony that radiate from his abstract compositions constitute an alternative to the violence and ugliness he sees in our society. Aalders’ highly personal compositions are inspired not only by art history, but also by nature, poetry and music. They are intended to reveal underlying laws of nature and to tell us something about the ‘mystery of life’.