Gijs Assmann (1966, Netherlands) makes drawings, collages, sculptures and (public) spatial installations in which the artist shows his connection with human emotions and the facts of life: penetrating, disarming, confrontational, personal and sincere. The question “How can we live?” is central to his work. The urgency for his images lies in the counterpoint he wants to offer to man in all his powerlessness and awkwardness.
A constant in Assmann’s work is the series of “vanitas sculptures,” which he has been working on since 1992. Each work in this series is dedicated to a friend or acquaintance of the artist, and can be conceived as portraits of these persons made with the means of a still life. They were created in an attempt to communicate to that person the idea that everything is impermanent, and they simultaneously attempt to fix a memory of that person. Assmann’s Vanitas images refer only airily to the classical pictorial elements of the still-life tradition. With a playfulness and free choice of materials, he attempts to merge mirth and melancholy into one image, sometimes deliciously dastardly and sometimes craftily virtuosic.