Following on from the duo's continual playful and dystopic depiction of the human condition, Fine Arts brings together the collection of over ninety watercolors inspired by images found on the Internet.
The conceptual duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys continue in the project “Fine Arts” with their playful approach that draws on dystopian narratives. In this scenario the artists have became watercolorists; unfashionably harping back to the previous century's pictorial tradition while basing their picture making on a range of quotidian and historical images culled from the Internet. The photographic sources seem near in these new renderings, relatively postcard-like, somewhat promotional. One reader of the collection cites that “deadpan images of the banal and fanciful hang evenly alongside the grievous and tragic without expression, critique or apparent irony. In some, nostalgia or innocence are dimly stirred and questioned”. Although assuming the genre of the watercolorist and their association with pastoral and colonialist scenes may possibly be outdated, the contemporary mode of sourcing the image material implies that these pictures might not be matters of the past. Published in a glossy format reminiscent of an art historical picture book or auction house catalogue.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous touring exhibition at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; MoMA PS1, New York; and Raven Row, London, in 2015.
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys have been working together as an artist duo since the end of the 1980s. Their photographs, drawings, objects, and videos—steeped in black humor, critical (self)-reflection and overlapping reality, fiction and suppressed history—play with notions of the superficial and banal.
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys's art casts a merciless perspective on reality. Through their numerous artistic approaches, the artist duo visualize their imaginings of the parallel world inherent within the modern human psyche, along with how it manifests itself in the everyday aspects of life and civic conformity. Everything from work, leisure, and family, to social class, masculinity, and marginalization are envisaged through convening an unlikely cast of nonprofessional actors, family members, friends, beards, objects, and mannequins alike, often in banal, homespun settings rife with awkward power dynamics.