1612’s one show
By Asha Mayan Lennox
'WOO!', Vancouver, October 2010

Susanne Bruynzeel’s solo exhibition, one show, which ran from September 24th until the 3rd of October at 1612 Gallery, took ten days to install. She had only seen a photograph of the gallery space previous to arrival, and as part of her process, looked around and gave herself permission to be “overcome by the shock of the space”. As she explained, all of her exhibitions are composed in a similar fashion: she makes work corresponding to already existing architectural elements with one proviso: “It has to be a place where you can focus, a bit clean.” There were a total of five nameless pieces in the show comprised of everyday materials, paper, pencil, coloured chalk and foils, used to draw attention to and reference the surroundings and its already present elements: line, framing and light, that might be otherwise overlooked.
Following the history of Dutch Minimalism, Bruynzeel’s work asked for an engagement with the physicality of the spectator and the viewer’s participation in viewing. There was a desire to push the boundaries of experience, to stage a coup against the self-inflicted constraints of everyday logical expectation inherent to vision by drawing attention to the subtle possibilities of what was actually there. There was a purposeful delay in her images and gestures; for instance, one of her pieces I neglected to discover until twenty minutes after entering the room, an experience I found quite charming. She had placed mirrors on the top of a ledge against the white wall to create rectangles of refracted light that I had assumed initially to be part of the architecture of the room. She also played with the notions of the aura in the use of yellow. As she explained, it has less of a contrast to white and feels more ephemeral than other colours. Her drawing of a circle in yellow pencil became almost imperceptible from the yellow of the light. “The drawing”, she said “is nothing without the light”. In her perspective, space is a container of light and one must address it. “I like light. I am a Dutch artist. Maybe it’s a very Dutch thing to like light.” Bruynzeel’s work also addressed the aura in terms of the meaning attributed to Walter Benjamin. Her installation was by definition a unique and singular existence of work of art; however, she removed the possibility of fetishization and a value attributed to it. She explained that she did not want to create a reproduction or force something to be, represent something or make it look like something else. She desired her work to be accessible and honest; furthermore, one need not be versed in art history to have read what she created: “It is accessible because anyone can make it.” In her residue of a drawing, she built a small white ledge low to the ground which was covered in a spectrum of coloured dust from soft pastel which she had used. There were ghostly coloured smooches of pastel in the wall indicating the parameters of where the paper had been. Before the show, Bruynzeel threw the drawing in the trash; the point was to make the residue and to ask: is this a thing or not? Is it there or not? For her, the emphasis was less on the object in favour of the space. She elucidated by saying: “There is no original art, there is no object necessarily. Is it possible to have an original thing? I don’t think it’s possible.” Therefore she set parameters for herself by working with unadulterated materials: for instance, paper was purchased in pre-cut sizes, and she tends not to mix pigments: “Primary colours are set format. I didn’t make these colours. That is just how they come and I work with that.”
Despite the fact that Bruynzeel strives to make work that is “not too grown up in a way”, one show was precocious: both elegant and clever in its simplicity. The work situated itself tangibly in, and was the result of space and time; it could not be separated, could not exit on its own and thus was a testament of holism.