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Exhibition of new works by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde opens at Ronchini Gallery
Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Portland Place, 2014, London. Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery.

LONDON.- Ronchini Gallery London presents Antipode, an exhibition of new works by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde. Smilde makes multidisciplinary work through the synthesis of photography, installation, performance and sculpture.

Smilde has become known for his Nimbus series comprised of striking images of ‘real’ clouds suspended within empty rooms. Using a fog machine, he carefully adjusts the temperature and humidity to produce clouds just long enough to be photographed. There is a unique ephemeral aspect to the work where the photograph captures a very brief moment before the cloud dissipates, disappearing as mysteriously as it was formed.

Smilde’s work centres on an impermanent state of being between construction and deconstruction and is often about situations that deal with duality. The exhibition title Antipode takes its name from the geographical term which refers to parts of the earth diametrically opposite each other. By exploring space and playing with perception, he lends his vision to the uncanny. His works question the inside and outside, size, the function of materials and architectural elements.

Working in a site specific way, the artist reacts to the architecture or history of a location. The recent locations Smilde has chosen to work in are all in some way connected to exhibition spaces. For Nimbus Sankt Peter he produced a cloud inside a gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, at the Kunst-Station Sankt Peter, a site previously used by artists including Francis Bacon, Anish Kapoor and Cindy Sherman.

Further Nimbus works will be created in the UK, the USA and inside The Hallen, a contemporary art museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands. These spaces function as a plinth for the work and the clouds create a collision between the original state of the space and its actual function. Smilde explains:

‘If you take away or reposition objects that occupy buildings and spaces, there is a stronger emphasis on the bare architectural elements that define a space. That's where I start working from.'

In a miniature version of Kammerspiele - an on-going work Smilde has presented in different formats since 2011 and most recently at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht in 2013 – found postcards of idyllic landscapes are ruptured with blocks of miniature white tiles creating friction between ideal and functionality. Smilde deconstructs the ideal landscape and uses the viewer’s free navigation, so that a clear-cut perspective disappears.

In Antipode Smilde projects a colour spectrum onto an image of a dark landscape featuring a romantic old castle. The work explores the suggestion of a rainbow and its connotations of perfection and promise juxtaposed with the fact it is projected upside down and alongside the isolation of the solitary castle. The image of the castle originates from a card made for a stereoscope, one of the first attempts to see images in 3D.

Berndnaut Smilde, Antipode, photomural, prism, light, 2014, Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

About the artist
Berndnaut Smilde (b. 1978, Groningen) lives and works in Amsterdam. He has exhibited across The Netherlands and also in Toronto, Taipei, Istanbul, Dublin, Paris, London, Rotterdam and San Francisco. In 2013, he opened his first large scale solo exhibition in the US at Land of Tomorrow in Louisville, Kentucky, and guest curated a show at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht where he exhibited his personal choice of works from the collection in a dialogue with his own work. Smilde's work resides in both the Saatchi and the Smithsonian collections among others. Smilde has been written about extensively in art publications; additionally his Nimbus series was recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the "Top Ten Inventions of 2012"and was covered by the BBC and Reuters. He created works that featured Karl Lagerfeld, Donatella Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Alber Elbaz for the Harper’s Bazaar U.S. September 2013 issue. He was a resident artist at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2008. He received his BA in 2001 from the Minerva Academy and his MA in 2005 from the Frank Mohr Institute, both in The Netherlands. Smilde had a solo exhibition at the DSM Collection in Heerlen, The Netherlands, September 2013 - January 2014. His work was exhibited at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. as part of the ‘A Decade of Collecting’ exhibition, July 2013 – January 2014 and at SOMArts in San Francisco, November - December 2013. His work was included in an exhibition about artists who feature clouds in their work at the Musèe de La Poste in Paris February - May 2014. Smilde is represented by Ronchini Gallery in London.

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