Jan van der Ploeg
Ready or Not
14 May - 20 June 2020
Sumer is pleased to present Ready or Not, an exhibition of new work by Dutch painter Jan van der Ploeg – his first solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition features a selection of works from the artist’s most recent series of paintings, all of which were produced over the past eight weeks in the artist’s Amsterdam studio whilst under Covid-19 lockdown. These works are accompanied by a new wall painting commissioned specifically for Sumer.
Well-known for his distinctive brand of colourful and exuberant pop-abstraction, van der Ploeg predominantly works between large-scale wall paintings and smaller paintings on canvas and board. Most notable to this series is his recurrent use of the iconic pill-shaped “grip” motif – a form for which his work is now synonymous . The “grip” is a motif which first appeared in the artist’s work in the early-nineties and continues throughout his practice to the works in the exhibition.
His paintings, with their modularity and utilitarian approach, can be seen as a continuing engagement with various dialogues surrounding abstraction and reductive art; reaching back across the past century to the present moment with specific touchstones on Minimalism, De Stijl and Op Art . And yet van der Ploeg’s work is somewhat unconventional in this sense, breaking with tradition for the use of recognizably appropriated forms and motifs. Not only does his work knowingly reference aspects of earlier artists’ work – Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg, Richard Artschwager, Gordon Walters – it also borrows from more prosaic and mainstream sources: brand logos, dingbat symbols and industrial packaging design. In van der Ploeg’s work, we see an understanding of abstraction as a visual ordering which, like everything, does not exist in a vacuum and is always, to greater or lesser extents, referential and connected .
Van der Ploeg has had a longstanding relationship with New Zealand and Australia, regularly exhibiting in both countries since his first exhibitions here in the mid-nineties. His work continues to be exhibited extensively across Europe, North America and Oceania. Notable institutional highlights include: The Hammer Museum Los Angeles, MoMA PS1 New York, Ludwig Forum Aachen, Kunsthaus Baselland Basel, Museum for Concrete Art Ingolstadt, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. His work is also represented in major public, corporate and private collections both in Europe and Australasia, including: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam, Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Daimler Contemporary Berlin, Museum Ulm Ulm, Christchurch Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia Perth and Chartwell Collection Auckland.
 As Renate Wiehager suggests, the form may have also been borrowed from Richard Artschwagers ‘blps’ painted spots.
Wiehager, R., ‘Impressionist? Expressionist?: On a number of art strategy controversies in the artwork of Jan van der Ploeg’, https://www.janvanderploeg.com/renate-wiehager-impressionist-expressionist
Van der Ploeg is also strongly influenced by the work of New Zealand modernist Gordon Walters, and this can be seen in the compositions of many of his “grip” paintings. His introduction to New Zealand was through an exhibition looking at the influence of Walters, here and abroad.
 Sumer, ‘Dashper, van der Ploeg & Walters’ (2019), https://www.sumer.co.nz/dashper-van-der-ploeg-walters
As New Zealand faces lockdown restrictions similar to much of Europe, North America and Asia, our physical gallery remains closed until further notice. This exhibition will only be available to view virtually, via our website, viewing room and downloadable PDF catalogue.
Jan van der Ploeg, PAINTING No. 20-16, Untitled (THE NEW NORMAL), 2020, acrylic on canvas, 57 x 49 cm