İrem Kaneli RC 89

“The physics courses at RC with a lot of experiments certainly inspired me as an artist.”

Based in the Netherlands, İrem Kaneli has been working with Dutch artist Stijn Smit since 2007. From their collaboration a third artist has emerged: Kaneli & Smit.

 İrem Kaneli RC 89 (center) and Stijn Smit (right) pose with the geologist who helped them collect ancient soil for their Pyramid of Schokland

What does it mean to be a collaborative artist?

In the contemporary art world based on personal autonomy and signature, most painters are very individualistic and work alone. I always wanted to challenge this idea, seeing a lot of potential in creating together. Using landscape and the natural forces acting upon it to create landscape paintings and land art is the core of our collaborative work.

From the beginning of our collaboration, we started painting with local clay on canvas. Since 2009, we’ve been working on Ebb & Flow Paintings, a series of works created in the tidal zone exploring and portraying the DNA of the Dutch landscape in the blueprint of the sea; literally working together with its tides. So, it’s not only a collaboration with another artist but also a collaboration with the sea and the forces of nature. With each tidal movement of the sea, clear flood lines appear on the painting: The painting is like the landscape itself where we stand locally, created with the influence of fluidity and unpredictability. A self-portrait of the sea made on our initiative paying utmost attention to the “genius loci” spirit of the location.

We’re strongly convinced that creations of human beings are also a part of nature. Anticipating the unexpected is our essence. Collaboration with each other including nature is not a being, but a continual becoming where incidents meet, coincide, and depart at the same time.

What inspires you?

Nature and its transformational power inspires me. I was always attracted to the sense of space and light of the northern countries. Having studied advanced physics at RC and being curious about tidal forces magnified the appeal of the Dutch landscape and the North Sea. To be near the sea, the blue thread of life that connects all with no distinct borders, and trying to grasp what seems ungraspable fascinates me. 

We use a lot of scientific information and resources to create our artworks. We use weather maps and tidal graphs daily and also create our own tidal graphics. Our fascination is to stic teachers, and studying on that beautiful green campus were a joy.

Turning Tide - Water Panorama, 2018

Published February 2021

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