yinka shonibare MBE and stephan balkenhol in group exhibition ’in search of meaning’ at museum de fundatie, the netherlands

17 January 2015
In Search of Meaning investigates the significance of the human figure in a global context. The world altered dramatically toward the end of the twenty-first century, but the real turnaround had already occurred in the eighties. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the communist utopia proved to be an unreachable dream. The Islamic Revolution broke out in Iran in 1979 but society turned out not to malleable after all. History appeared not to be linear, ascending in a straight line as some people expected, but cyclical instead. Optimistic belief in the progress of modernism made way for post-modern doubt, post-secular spirituality and God-longing, and these can all be recognised in the art of the time.

The artists represented in this exhibition, including Stephan Balkenhol and Yinka Shonibare MBE, come from all over the world, from Europe and America to China, South Korea, Indonesia, India and Nigeria. The 21 artists in the exhibition and the corresponding book form a variegated group with diverse cultural backgrounds, ranging from the Cynical Realist Minjun, the Islamite Riyas Komu and the mystic Tahon, to the atheistic Quinn. It is impossible to place them under one common denominator. They do not fit into post-modernism, which tends to place things in a more aloof perspective, or into post-secularism, when it concerns a return to traditional forms of faith. But they have one thing in common: they all deliberate on what it means to be human. Artists put forward their images as a projection surface for the viewer, instead of wishing to impose their message upon others. They tell us short stories about their own experience of being human, but they have no patent on the truth. ‘I am a prophet who cannot see', declares Jan Fabre. Artists frequently present their questions to the public. In Search of Meaning is not concerned with answers, but rather about reflection on life as a meaningful activity in itself.

In Search of Meaning - The Human Image In A Global Perspective runs from 17 January - 6 April 2015.

Yinka Shonibare MBE and Stephan Balkenhol at Museum de Fundatie, The Netherlands.