Tapestries full of horses, drunks and wheels

Tapestry detail by Jeroen van den Bogaert

Tapestry detail by Jeroen van den Bogaert

At the KABK Graduation Fair, last July, there was a trio of giant tapestries that attracted a great deal of attention. Galloping horses, wheeled motorbikes, dismounting from the cross and bat scenes make for a ludicrous but at the same time dangerous spectacle that is almost impossible not to look at. The tapestries were created by Jeroen van den Bogaert and dealt with the explosive behavior traditionally associated with masculinity. He compiled it from a large collection of photos he had been collecting over the past two years. Part of it is included in the book accompanying the tapestries, entitled “Foolish Pleasure in Evil Schemes”. In it he searches for similarities between images taken from obscure blogs from Holland and abroad and classical paintings.

Furnishings by Jeroen van den Bogaert

The furnishings are in full glory.

Jeroen began his collection of images after he was commissioned two years ago to “do something” with Abe Warburg’s Minimusine Atlas. This atlas of images is the last, unfinished work of Warburg (1866-1929), a German art historian. Warburg also collected photographs of all kinds of artworks from different times. Perhaps to see patterns and discover new meanings, although this is not entirely certain as he died before he could write down his findings. “Warburg, for one, looks at similarities in gesture and symbolism. I followed that in principle.” Another source of inspiration for Jeroen is the historical memes of Cecilia Azcarat. “Once I put a picture of two young kings and ATL twins side by side. I didn’t invent this or anything, you see such a visual rhyme so often on Instagram.”

Jeroen hopes his work will be more than just a meme. “I want to grow to the point where it’s no longer laughable. It can get cute very quickly. But it’s also nice when people burst out laughing when they see my work. I think humor also provides an accessible entry into a complex subject.” This topic eventually became stereotypical male behavior.

“The tapestries are about male outbursts, or a certain ‘boy behaviour.’ I took one subject per tapestries and really blew it up, making it a little satirical.” One of the tapestries is about what he calls the “heroic” and includes images of wheelies plucked from the Internet and paintings of people like Napoleon raising their horses. On the tapestry dealing with the “tragedy” of the man, you see Renaissance scenes of the Descent from the Cross next to images of young men being led away from a tavern after a heavy drink. “It’s also about how the environment reacts to such a lifeless man.” A third texture deals with aggression. There you see the baton of the riot police next to the baton of the medieval people.

Jeroen van den Bogaert tapestry.

Act assertive or jump on your horse.

When collecting the photos, Jeroen wasn’t necessarily thinking that he was looking for men. “At first I wanted to show that there is a certain beauty in these contemporary pictures, which might in fact be considered nonsense. Because their quality is so low, and because there seems to be a certain marginal demeanor. While pictures of similar subjects have been respected in historical art for centuries. I think those recent photos are just as beautiful.”

This can still be clearly seen in an earlier copy of his book which he shows me. In it, casually framed pixel images of cluttered interiors turn out to be very similar to a still life from the 17th century. Giron says his teachers advised him not to use his work to say anything about what Giron calls the social and cultural clash between the upper and lower classes, because those classes are now overlapping. “As a result of this comment, I checked my collection again, and discovered that many of the images do in fact relate to certain forms of masculinity. On the one hand, this relates to an intuitive appeal, but men and their behavior have also been central to most historical art.”

Tapestries by Jeroen van den Bogaert

So the social and cultural conflict between groups with different positions in society is no longer the subject, but rather inspires his method of work. “I wanted to make something that everyone could understand. You can see here at KABK that this theory is being considered quite seriously. I did VMBO, then MBO, then HBO, and now I’m a professor. I’ve read quite a few theories before because I just didn’t get that.” In school: a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, for example, was more practical.I often came across descriptions of projects from fellow students that I didn’t understand because they had such a complex theoretical basis.Of course, sometimes terms help do more specific work because certain words are used for a purpose Certain. Some people also like to look at a job for half an hour and learn all about it. But I have less of myself. My background undoubtedly has something to do with that.”

In addition to making textiles, Jeroen also interviewed four of his friends who identified themselves as male. They all have a different relationship with their manhood. “Masculinity, of course, is a cultural construct. So how do you look at it has to do with your family background, with education, but also with sexuality. For example, one of the guys that you talked to is gay and views the concept of masculinity a little more distance. Whereas with these other guys you see that they They basically describe themselves.” The talks deal with topics such as “toxic” masculinity and wearing clothing traditionally seen as feminine. Jeroen consciously chose to talk to good friends. “I thought this was important because conversations have to be honest, even if people say things that are inappropriate or untrue. Discussions about gender are risky right now and I think a lot of people are afraid of saying the wrong thing. The differences between men and women are pretty blurred.” And that’s a good thing. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to relate to this.”

Just as Abe Warburg makes new connections and relationships possible with his picture atlas that are hard to capture with language or facts, Jeroen hopes his rugs will spark new conversations. Even with people who are not familiar with gender theory. “I hope the business doesn’t go wrong with people, I’ve been a little afraid of that for a while. The behavior I display on those furnishings is very sexy and risky. People demand their freedom and that has a certain appeal. The question that comes with that is: isn’t it at expense others?”

From 24 to 30 October, the carpets can be seen during the OYO group exhibition at the Haagse Kunstkring.

Jeroen Bogert

Men who were carried away after suffering on the cross or in a tavern.

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