Our latest artwork on display is made by graphic designer Ropp. He has an expo running right now at the Bob Smit Gallery. We went there last Friday to ask him about his work and the Rotterdam cultural life.
We arrive at the end of the afternoon and are welcomed by artist Ropp and Bob Smit himself. The gallery is part office, mostly expo space for the artworks of Ropp, Flamo and MESMO. Bob Smit is facilitator and business developer for artist like Ropp. Apart from showing and selling his work, Bob is also always looking for new opportunities for an artist to grow and be more known. He overflows with rather strong ideas and concepts and has a huge network. This show isn’t curated by Bob, but by Ropp himself. He invited his two friends to expose their work next to his. All the artworks are in a way similar, that they are analog abstract works, with the use of simple geometric figures and typography.
Ropp is best known for his work for bureau Mwah – tekstuele verwenners. But his autonomous work is at least as impressive. He is very content when working on his projects – or ‘playing’ as he calls it himself. ‘I love working for my own projects, without a client, because I can make works without an idea. I’d like to make something as universal as possible, that’s partly the reason why I make abstract works. The general idea behind a work mostly comes later. I find that very interesting. I like to tell my own story,’ told Ropp us.
Ropp continues: ‘I was already working a long time on my own projects and I was very interested in my own feelings with these artworks. Where are these feelings coming from? Colour does something to a human, but it doesn’t mean anything. Colour doesn’t exist in this world. Yes, we perceive it with our eyes, but colour is made up by the brain. This concept drives me. There seems to be a paradox with colour.’
‘When I’m painting – Ropp makes his images on a computer and paints them later on canvas – I think about paradoxes and metaphors. I work with metaphors, but that’s only my own feeling; I don’t communicate a story. My works are spiritual for me, what I express in images. For me it feels on a certain moment as the painting looks like and after it’s finished, everyone sees and feels something different. This transition of perception is far more fascinating than the actual story behind a painting. To express this in language is extremely different. That’s why I make abstract works, because my paintings are disconnected from time. I use figures that exist throughout time and without humans (circles, squares, straight lines). It arises from nothing and can become something, but in the end transforms into nothing. I think about life when I play, I’m always looking for beauty. Beauty is literally everywhere. You are an energy of love, looking for beauty and you come across different people and situations; all leaving an impression.’
By now we were a bit confused. Ropp explains: ‘It’s all about duality. People want clarity, but that doesn’t exist. As a person you are static, and the world revolves around you. From your point of view, you move through the universe, but it actually moves around you. There are always multiple points of view and they’re all true. This is the same for art: when you see beauty, you can recognize it. But when you recognize it, you already knew it and it was already inside you. When you see something new, you can make it your own and learn it. But when you make it your own, you change it via your own perception. Via this action you’ve changed it and therefore it’s gone. When this owning process has happened, you’ve changed it and you lost it, because it’s gone. This accounts highly for my works of art. There is always a paradox of what I meant and saw and how the painting is perceived now. But you have to understand that I don’t work with paradoxes or communicate a story at all. It’s about what you refer to, not what you name.’
Thank you Ropp for giving some back story to your paintings. We’re also curious about what you do, when you’re not working. ‘I love to go to openings,’ Ropp tells us, ‘see new things. I really like to see people express themselves and actually present them, it doesn’t matter in which medium that is. One of the many places where I can see such things is for example Gallery Frank Taal but I think almost every gallery in the city is interesting. I also enjoy visiting museums, like Boijmans or de Kunsthal. Next to old-school pubs De Schouw and De Hensepeter, I used to go to BAR. BAR is a place where the air is filled with a special kind of openness. At the beginning of a night there are so many possibilities of what’s going to happen. There is no fixed concept. In general I don’t want to limit myself to specific art forms or concepts. I love being surprised, that’s the reason I like just wandering around town.’
‘That’s why Rotterdam is cool – it’s a city where things arise and disappear again.’
06-09-2017 pictures by Arno Hartensveld and text by Wouter Kloot