Levi van Veluw – Origin of the Beginning

  Landscapes, Landscape I,  2008120x100cm & 60x50cm

Levi van Veluw draws memories from his own childhood to thematically and narrative developing of his own brand of self-portraiture. These neatly structured works refer to his obsessive attempts to gain control of his life. The daily struggle to regulate this chaos is the central theme of this series and simultaneously van Veluw’s reality. His work is compelling, melancholic and above all visually stunning.

Levi van Veluw´s photo series are all self-portraits, drawn and photographed by himself: a one-man-process. His works constitute elemental transfers – modifying the face as object – combining it with other stylistic elements to create a third visual object with a large visual impact. The work you see therefore is not a portrait, but an information-rich image of colour, form, texture, and content. The image contains the history of a short creative process, with the artist shifting between the entities of subject and object.

Giving familiar elements such as a ballpoint-line a new context results in a confusing conflict between the objects normal associations and the new values given it in this new context. The author and object of these elemental transfers , Levi van Veluw explains his method: “I sit in front of a mirror with several objects and ideas. That day, the process takes shape, and slowly I create a new object I find interesting.”

 Levi van Veluw | Puzzle | 60x50cm & 120x100cm | 2006

 Levi van Veluw | Hair | 60x50cm & 120x100cm | 2007

Material Transfer

The Material Transfer series were all completed and photographed within  a time frame of 24 hours and without any digital manipulation. Giving  familiar elements such as cheap carpet, pebble stones and sterling wood a new context results in a confusing conflict between the objects normal associations and the new values assigned to it in the works. Levi van  Veluw interrogates the attributes of daily life. Although it seems as if the actual material is the object of his observation, it is in fact their metaphoric use in daily life what interests him most: the signification people attach to the things that surround them.

 Levi van Veluw | Material transfers | Sterling wood | 120x100cm & 60x50cm | 2008

 Levi van Veluw | Material transfers | Carpet | 120x100cm & 60x50cm | 2008


This 4-piece series reinterprets the traditional landscape painting, removing plots of grass, clusters of trees, babbling brooks from their intimate 2 dimensional formats and transposing them onto the 3 dimensional contours of his own face. Thus a fresh twist is given to the obsession inherent in the romantic landscape of recreating the world and simultaneously being part of it. The romantic landscape and self-portrait genres are combined as a means of re-examination. Besides the four landscapes, Levi van Veluw will also present a new video piece, landscape installation and works from two other series of photographs.

 Landscapes, Landscape IV, 2008120x100cm & 60x50cm

 Landscapes, Landscape III, 2008120x100cm & 60x50cm


In this  photographic series, the visibility of this creative process is reduced. Under the working title ‘Light’, Van Veluw has covered his head with strokes of light generating foil. Photographed in total darkness, the highly radiant bright blue light produced by this material, allow it to stand out as an autonomous object. Forgotten are the features of Van Veluw´s face, only its shape remains discernable in the route that each stroke of light takes. Light becomes form and it stands free from any ‘original’ subject. It is this ‘invisibility’ of the production processes that creates the freedom in this image.

 Levi van Veluw | Light | Light III | 120x100cm & 60x50cm | 2009

 Levi van Veluw | Light | Light I | 120x100cm & 60x50cm | 2009


“The images that I make consist of often unlogical combinations of materials, patterns, colours, forms, with my head as the only constant factor. Each element is consciously chosen so as to affect a pre-determined transformation. By playing with the value of the each material and by using them for a purpose that was not originally intended for them, I construct within the image, in a very small way, a different perspective on the world.

In most cases it is my head that is the carrier of these transformations and combinations. The expressionless, and almost universal face, allows the viewer to project himself onto the work. Because the works have really existed and have not been digitally manipulated, each image contains a short history of a performance.

Repetition is a theme I find very interesting as you can use it for different ends. By for example using the same head and facial expression, the person slowly becomes of secondary importance to the form. The elements that remain constant lose their value and the elements that change, become the subject of the work. In this way I create a shift in the hierarchy of values.

The commonplace notion of the ‘aesthetic’ image is that which is free of unsatisfactory characteristics and general human imperfections. This in my opinion is the most superficial form of beauty. In my work I attempt to create a different form of aesthetic.

The unusual and unimpressive materials, traces of glue and other imperfections that exist in the production of the work are what form the aesthetic value in my image. This revaluation of these normally insignificant elements only occurs because they now exist in a new context that distances them from their original circumstances and associations.

During this process I became more and more aware that all objects, materials, events are assigned a commonly held value, but that this valuation could just as easily be different.  It was those elements that nobody had an opinion about that then became most interesting to me. Because they seem to contain little meaning to people, they are malleable and can easily have their perceptions about them altered.

My work amounts to small researches into the valuations we assign to the things around us and the associations they engender in this way. Although these underlying reasons are not immediately apparent in the work, a very specific unsettling reaction is invoked in the viewer. Although the cause of this reaction is a mere piece of grey carpet, it is logical that people react to it in this way as the viewer is essentially forced to review his commonly-held notions about  this material.  The image succeeds in shifting the viewer’s perception, be it in a very small way and about an unimportant subject.” – Levi van Veluw




Origin of the Beginning

The artist has created 3 “rooms” covered with more than 30.000 wooden blocks, balls and slats respectively. Each “room” is executed as a life-size installation (4m x 2.5m x 2.5m)  together with photographs and videos.
(without any digital manipulation)

Portrayed in one piece is a desk, a table lamp, a bookcase. The edge of the table is burned by Levi van Veluw as he had an obsession for fire. All of these objects including every inch of the floor, walls and ceiling is covered in the same material: 14.000 16 cm2 dark brown wooden blocks. The blocks are made by the artist and glued on the wall one by one. The works suggest a narrative world behind the abstract portraits.

On the one hand these works present themselves as a continuation of van Veluw’s formal approach to self-portraiture, with their preoccupation for materiality, pattern and texture. Yet they are simultaneously very personal pieces. The repetitive structures seemingly express a ‘horror vacui’ and recall van Veluw the youth and his obsessive attempts to gain control on his life by gaining control of his surroundings. Dimly light and dark in colour the overriding tone of these pieces are claustrophobic and sombre, exuding a sense of loneliness. The meticulous craftsmanship and high quality material with which every last nook and cranny is covered, result in a series of works that are also highly aesthetic.

These installations are inspired by different aspects of van Veluw’s boyhood bedroom, where he spent many solitary hours between the ages of 8 and 14.







Automata are mechanical objects endowed with life by ingenious means. This rewindable object is made from wood. The cubes rotate around their axes as they are powered by 100 gears.



Family – Origin of the Beginning

Portrayed in this piece is a room with 5 persons sitting at a table. These persons are Levi van Veluw, his father, mother, brother and sister. The room is executed as a life-size installation (4m x 2.5m x 2.5m) in which everything , including the family members themselves, is covered with 20.000 dark brown wooden blocks. (without any digital manipulation).

At first glance everyone is sitting peacefully at the table, the picture of a perfect family unit. Yet this group of figures is positioned in an abstract environment, unrecognisable and therefore far removed from reality. Dimly light and dark in colour the overriding tone of this work is claustrophobic and sombre, exuding a sense of loneliness.

The awkward silence and dark colour suggest uncomfortable underlying tensions and emotions. The endless repetition of wooden blocks stands for van Veluw’s attempts to gain control of his own position within the familial structure.


All info and images © www.levivanveluw.nl

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