Machteld Rullens


18.01.24 → 23.03.24

"The chiaroscuro becomes the monad according to a series that can be traversed in both directions: at one end the dark background, at the other sealed light."

The word Dwaet, which in Middle Dutch means to moisten, wash, clean, or rinse, reflects Machteld’s attitude toward her practice. Her work exists at the crossroads between sculpture, conceptual art, and abstract painting: a warmly laconic intersection tacitly referencing art-historical movements from Supports/Surfaces to minimal sculpture, and from performative objects to conceptual practices.

Folded, twisted, inverted, stacked, superimposed, crushed, or flattened, her wall objects made from found cardboard are full of emptiness. Covered in countless layers of oil paint and resin, they are a contemporary chiaroscuro, “at one end the dark background, at the other sealed light.” [2]. Upon closer inspection, the skies, sunsets, full-moon nights, and reflections on the water are all brought to light on the edge of these cardboard surfaces.

"As I collected, reorganized, crushed, and soaked my material, I felt that dwaet resonated with my approach to art-making. I use the box to its full potential. The cardboard is not a separate background from the paint. This broadens my visual research, which I do not only as a painter, but also as a sculptor. I appreciate the freedom that comes with abstraction. Not adding too much, not doing too little. Keeping the work dirty and fresh at the same time. Sometimes, I see the work as evidence of an intention, a desire, or an impulse". Perhaps it is so that I act more subconsciously in the private sphere. I think about art and religion a lot. Both faith and art are simultaneously and paradoxically fragile and resilient. And ultimately indestructible.”

“In Leibniz’s philosophy everything folds, unfolds, refolds. His most famous thesis is that of the soul as a "monad" without door or window, which draws from a dark background all its clear perceptions [...] also the soul is full of dark folds.” [3]

There are evocative titles, such as Judd, or Optimus Prime which take us across the Atlantic, between Minimalism and Pop Culture while Green Bottega and Dirty Swamp Neon are simply descriptive.

Between simplicity and sophistication, Machteld’s work displays the wide range and richness of her practice; an endless diversity through
the repetition of a gesture: the simple fact that she preferred to paint the box rather than the white canvas.

EP - translation by Blurbs

1,2,3 « LE PLI.: Leibniz et le Baroque » Gilles Deleuze

Selected Images