Seeing the work of Regardt van der Meulen, a contemporary African-American artist, we get deep into the complexity of today’s art world. It is complex because we frequently need an explanation to understand the concept, that subtle and often sarcastic message that challenges us intellectually when viewing a piece.
Regardt van der Meulen makes sculptures inspired by mortality, time, memory, and environment.
The artist tells us: “I am fascinated by human mortality and the fleeting moments we spend here. One often forgets how fragile life and our environment are. We think we are part of a binary relationship with nature when in fact, we are one. Sudden changes in our environment or experiences can instantly shift our perspective on how we view life and our role in it.
My work shows the contrast between beauty and erosion, and I hope that this creates a realization of life’s impermanence.
The interconnection of time and memory and its forms and influences on our metaphysical world has always interested me. From the moment we are born until death, we are constantly creating and storing memories. But as time goes by, our memories and physical bodies will change or completely fade away. It is these contradictions and fleetingness of beauty that I find captivating.”
…As time goes by, our memories and physical bodies will change or completely fade away. It is these contradictions and fleetingness of beauty that I find captivating.
Van der Meulen works on the human figure with the notion of disintegration and loss. In a way, it is an invitation to be aware of these processes, and at the same time, it represents the necessary change to adapt, where matter and time persist and resist the constant change we stand.
We live under the illusion that our bodies and the world are fixed and determined forms. But even with the language, we perceive an instability, an impossible, that words can barely describe. When we deconstruct something, we have the opportunity to take apart the pieces and build them in a different order, more current and fit to the present time. Van der Meulen’s sculptures show how the human body, time, and space develop different dimensions in their context. The artist gives us variants of the human figure that challenges us to identify or empathize with them.
In a way, it reminds us of the Swizz artist Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), with his structures of solitary men walking, with their arms hanging at the sides; men eternally walking in search of life’s meaning, an existential question of his time. An artwork with such vital force that crosses the decades and reaches our time.
Regardt’s art shows us the necessary change for our daily existence, deconstructing ourselves to break the mold, the building, and picking up the pieces to get back to new realities and circumstances. A man in constant change to overcome the vicissitudes of life.
Regardt van der Meulen’s figures also reflect the labyrinth of time and space that traps us. The acceleration of our daily life shakes the idea of a steady and reliable civilization and deprives us of a sense of security and linearity.
Life and time are no longer linear, continuous. With that aesthetic and existential deconstruction posed, the artist helps us reflect on the metamorphosis needed to make a strong comeback.