Bik Van der Pol

8 July 2015
Bik Van der Pol, Untitled (Gold) (2009), Neon, © Aad Hoogendoorn
Bik Van der Pol, Untitled (Gold) (2009), Neon, © Aad Hoogendoorn

Ferens Art Gallery

Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol have been working together as Bik Van der Pol in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, since 1994. Their interdisciplinary and often site-specific practice is concerned with the idea of art as a form of knowledge production.

Bik Van der Pol’s works have been on display in numerous international museums and biennials such as: the 31st São Paolo Biennial (2014); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2013); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2013); and CCA, Glasgow (2009). Their work is also represented in international collections such as Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon; Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest; and the Rotterdam City Collection.

Untitled (Gold), 2009, initially produced for the exhibition Generosity is the new political at Wysing Art Centre in Cambridge, is inspired by the poem ‘Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg’ written by the British humourist and poet Thomas Hood (1799–1845). Hood’s poem, a timeless satire about the corrupting power of money, reveals how gold has the ability to test our capabilities for both greed and generosity.

The source of Bik Van der Pol’s inspiration resonates with the genre and narrative themes of the Victorian paintings within Ferens Art Gallery’s collection, which are based on morality tales or subjects often inspired directly by literary sources provided by Victorian novelists and poets, including Thomas Hood.

Bik Van der Pol’s use of the medium of yellow neon as a twenty-first-century visual equivalent to gold has immediate visual appeal and the wording of the piece is equally seductive. Untitled (Gold), 2009, reinterprets a timeless theme, reinvesting it with layers of new meaning and subtle resonance in a thought-provoking but playful way.

Presented by the Contemporary Art Society with the support of the Ferens Endowment Fund, 2015

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