Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

Adrian Gebers

by Nell Greco

18 Aug 2010

Jan van der Ploeg WALL PAINTING No. 288 (2010), 2010
Aacrylic on wall.
Site-specific installation at

Peloton, Sydney

Although I've not yet had one, I expect most artists preparing their first solo exhibition would be occupied in a quandary of curatorial deliberations mixed in with a cacophony of nerves about what people will think of their work (and indirectly, them). For Adrian Gebers' first solo exhibition, I suspect he was mostly occupied with concerns of what one internationally renowned artist, Jan Van Der Ploeg, would think.

Jan Van Der Ploeg WALL PAINTING No.288
 (2010) is a mesmerising site specific wall painting executed by Gebers but designed by Amsterdam-based Van Der Ploeg. Using a basic elemental tonal contrast of black/white, Gerbers has painted black, right-pointing, wall-sized arrows, on the white surface of Peleton 19's four-walled gallery. Directing the viewer around the space in a clockwise direction (bar the left-pointing arrows in the window which point you into the gallery), it seems unnatural to roam the space in an anti-clockwise direction and it's interesting to note how many viewers obey this rule instinctively.

This work is not interested in human perception or response but there's no question of the presence or absence of form or tone. It is clear that black has been painted on the white, but what is so enigmatic about this wall painting is how all-encompassing it is. Your visual field is engrossed not just with the stark black and white of the walls but also their reflection in the gallery's black polished floor, made all the more impressive by the sharp, hard lines Gebers has created for each triangle. This sharpness draws you closely in to examine them, only to make you retract again to the middle of the room to enjoy the forms in their entirety. They appear so precisely straight they would give Friedensreich Hundertwasser something to argue about.

Despite how engrossing the wall paintings are, they're not the most impressive element of Jan Van Der Ploeg WALL PAINTING No.288. It's a title more arbitrary than [untitled] which you see all over galleries and it seems no more a summation of the work than a catalogue number for a database. No, more intriguing, is the fact that Gebers – the artist that painted the work, was merely following instructions and designs by Van Der Ploeg. This leads to a central question: who is the author and creator of Jan Van Der Ploeg WALL PAINTING No.288? The work wouldn't exist if Van Der Ploeg didn’t design it, but no more would it exist if Gebers didn't paint it. This question of authorship is by no means original but in this ever-growing environment of globalised mass production it is still supremely relevant.

What is so impressive about Gebers' Jan Van Der Ploeg WALL PAINTING No.288, is how acutely the work poses this question of authorship. Here is an artist more concerned with the structural concepts and 'rules' of contemporary art, rather than the avant and oblique 'isms' (symbolism, minimalism and post, post-modernism and the like) that other artists entangle their work in. It is the directness of this work that allows such discourse to evolve. I'm looking forward to seeing which international artist's opinion Gebers will have to worry about for his second solo exhibition.

Nell Greco is a freelance music and arts writer. As well as working part-time at the CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association Australia), she produces Canvas on FBi radio and is the Arts Editor of Two Thousand. Nell regularly contributes to The Brag (music and theatre), Concrete Playground (music), Music Feeds (music) and Alternative Media Group (vis art, film, theatre, music).