Next exhibition: René Holm / LOSE: September 8th - November 6th
One sperm cell out of a million finds its way to the egg and thus begins the story. The human story - your story, my story, all human
histories begin with the moment we are given life. We cannot reach for it, demand it or claim it. It is given to us, and what it will contain
- happiness and pain, joy, sadness, love and hate, warmth and cold- no one can know. But we gradually come to learn that it is given to us, and can be taken from us in a split second; for no one knows what awaits us around the next corner. It can be given to us, but we can also give life and take it away from others. Not one of us is separate. Not one of us lives separated from others, even though that’s what we pretend to do and want. Even the strong are weak. Even those who are celebrated and popular have to experience loss and feel lost in life. Even the most robust of us must confront our own powerlessness. Even the most vigorous among us have within them arid deserts that only turn tender and giving through the encounter with something different, something larger than ourselves. Even he, who seems to cope with it all and then some, contains facets that are dangerous to himself and others.
This time out, René Holm looks inward. The camera that he usually points at other people and groups in society, he has now turned on himself; but he has done much more than that, he has explored what it means to be human. And the title suggests the terms of our existence: to live is to be given everything, just as it is losing it all. And to lose something can leave you alone and abandoned. That’s why we spot the lonely human being in most of the artist’s paintings, the person carrying the pain of having lost or perhaps of being in the process of losing! It’s a hard and cruel lesson, a fitting commentary on the age we live in - where each of us becomes a project, in which we are left to our own devices, our own projects, even though our innermost desire might just be to encounter others. Human dignity is at stake, and so is human value. Humans essentially only have value and dignity by virtue of the value and dignity that others bestow on them, and that means that we are deeply dependent on each other, and that we live through the encounter with others. This is the fundamental experience in every life. The truth is, we experience the happiest moments when we forget ourselves and lose ourselves in the encounter.
The people in René Holm’s works have all lost or are about to lose - and their common experience seems to be that they have lost
themselves, too. We might dissolve and see no escape in this life. We can become so utterly ingrown that it can be difficult to glimpse hope in life, and the result is that we end up turning our backs on the world, for we care only for our own pain and unhappiness. The candle that we burn at both ends seems to take power from us, and loss becomes a fact in earnest. Apparently, what remains is taking leave: the father’s farewell to his child in the grave, which he himself has filled with dirt. People who turn their backs on the world and life and disappear into the picture, becoming one with their surroundings - the naked trees...
When you have lost everything and feel completely shut off, imprisoned by life, you have but one wish; namely, to be greeted as
what you are and where you are. To meet a person who, when all has been stripped away, can give you a foothold again. You pray that someone will open up the endless deep blue sky, so you can be reunited with the eternal whole. And thus be freed from the fundamental loneliness that always comes with loss. A longing to be united...
You can sense it in René Holm’s paintings, since the darkness does not rule, despite the separation, despite the loss. The light burns, creates warmth and brings back hope. Rays of light penetrate the forest’s gloom, chasing away the darkness. And although the paintings embody the worst (that is, loss), hope remains. Hope that an external force can make you discover that you are still alive, even though you had actually gone blank. Eventually we open our eyes again to life, the world and the people in it. And then it’s possible that we begin to live again, despite believing that we could not live without that which we lost!
These paintings and this exhibit give me a sense that René Holm had been knocked down and is now back on his feet. I have a sense that these images are a manifestation of the idea that life can wash over us and give us courage and happy days, after everything has collapsed and the loss is complete. Humans can intervene and renew our lives. Love greets us, giving us new life and courage. The paintings spring out of this, and thus we are not gripped by loneliness and hopelessness, although they are the first impression we get from the paintings. Through his paintings, René Holm expresses that we all live on the impression life makes upon us. We’re sustained by the impact of everything we encounter and everything we must let go of again.