Joan van Barneveld

Joan van Barneveld

Bad Moon Rising — Joan van Barneveld's new exhibition in Los Angeles develops the themes of absence and longing that appear throughout his work.

Photography from around Los Angeles features heavily in Joan van Barneveld’s new exhibition Bad Moon Rising, but you would struggle to recognise the city anywhere. His process pushes photographs almost to the limit of visibility, removing all colour and obscuring the image beneath a layer of black paint. But in the many dichotomies that appear in Joan’s work, as he obscures, he also reveals. His technique distances the image from the viewer, but at the same time draws the viewer closer. He spoke to Huck about the ideas and inspirations behind his new work.

Could you explain the processes and techniques you use in your work?
“The rasterised images are printed between layers of heavily diluted acrylic paint. The one thing I love about paint is that it is completely unstable, things go wrong. But there are other aspects to paint and painting that I don’t want to include in my work, such as colour, materiality and handwriting. During my working process the image slowly disappears, but never completely. By working towards a blackness the image becomes accessible, like a nocturnal scene. The effect of veiling the image is that it pushes the image away, but at the same time it will draw a viewer closer. Denying the image increases its presence at the same time. The slower emergence of the image increases the role of time in the work.”

Why did you move from using images found on the internet to working with your own photographs?
“I worked from found photos a couple of years ago and I liked the feeling of detachment this had. The more you know what you’re trying to do, the more control you are able to take, so eventually I felt I had to start working from my own photographs. These are mostly landscapes and empty stages. I like to think of them as photographs of what’s not there.”

Why have you chosen to name your exhibition after a Sonic Youth album?
“The title of a show is an intuitive thing for me. I really like the way the words ‘Bad Moon Rising’ look. My daughter is called Moon partly because I think it is a beautiful looking word. Sonic Youth have certainly been a big influence. I wouldn’t have chosen this title if I didn’t feel there were similarities between the atmosphere of their album and my recent works. I’m glad you didn’t mention Credence Clearwater Revival.”

How does Bad Moon Rising represent a progression from your previous show, Echoes?
“In Echoes I showed paintings and my recreation of Kurt Cobain’s greenhouse. Since then, I have finally been able to move beyond the canvas, which I had a couple of issues with. Now I’m showing works on paper which are much more photographic. I feel that my work is also opening up and becoming more poetic. I really like to work with what happens between images.”

What’s your attraction to Kurt Cobain and why does he features so prominently in your work?
“I grew up in the nineties and Nirvana was the first thing I ever came across where I could sense that something was at stake. The intensity and apparent sincerity of it all was an incredibly powerful thing to experience, but a terrible thing to lose. I think it’s become a standard for me, a sort of compass. I’m not even talking about the music or these people anymore, but about the energy.”

Could you explain what you mean when you say you are drawn to music venues and other ‘places that are bigger than us’?
“I think I’m talking about disappearance, both literally and in a psychological sense. Maybe dissolving is a better word. My work often shows an absence and is in a way about longing. Landscapes feel like an invitation for manifesting oneself. Stages form the setting for a magical concentration and eruption of energy. It is places like this and the anticipation and possibilities which they contain that most interest me.”

Joan van Barneveld’s new exhibition Bad Moon Rising runs January 18 to March 25, 2014 at the Paul Loya Gallery in Los Angeles. Hit the gallery website for more info.