PIETER ENGELS 3 – 12 – 1938 29 – 3 – 2019
Pieter Engels was born in Rosmalen, his parents had moved there from The Hague. Engels’ father painted among his own art, Stations of the Cross and other religious scenes in churches and cathedrals, in the then still Catholic south there was more work for him. Engels’ interest was exclusively in sports, and that he would become an artist was not in the line of expectation. It was a sportsman who led him to become an artist. A boxer who was taking painting lessons from his father asked him to go outside with him one day to paint, gave him a sheet of paper and it happened, Pieter was instantly hooked.
In 1955, Engels was admitted to the Bossche Art Academy, then called the Royal School of Arts and Crafts. In December 1955, after the first report, Engels was called to the principal’s office for an interview.
He said, “we have talked about you for a long time but we think it would be better if you quit.”
Engels seems to have replied:
“No way, Bullshit, I’ll stay and become the best painter in the whole country.” And within a year he was the star of the school.
Whereas before he didn’t mix colors because it seemed terrible to him, he started doing the opposite and developed the most beautiful color combinations. In 1958 Engels went to the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam, which turned out to be a big disappointment. At that time the Rijksacademie was not yet a postgraduate, but a five-year academic free art course.
In comparison with the Bossche academy, where under the regime of Jan van Haaren, a cultural shift had just been made; in one week, one received as many as seven offers of what you could do with images. At the Rijksacademie, Engels had to draw naked ladies week in week out; he found it a corny institution. In that same year Engels competed for the Royal Grant for the free art of painting and won. Nineteen years old and had just started his propaedeutic year.
Again Engels was called to the director’s office, telling him not to start imagining things, he already looked so arrogant. His scholarship was halved from 100 to 50 guilders, the subsidy was then 1200 guilders. To keep his head above water, Engels stayed at the Rijksacademie for another three and a half years. by this time it was 1962, the 24-year-old Engels was living with his wife in a landlady’s house on Overtoom, a child was on the way, and money had to be earned. He had his studio at Wittenburg, near the central station. like all the other painters of his generation, he started out painting landscapes, still lifes and portraits. From there he worked towards abstractions until at one point he was into all-black monochrome paintings. People called this informal art at the time. For him, this was the end. To support the family he had all kinds of jobs, often heavy and dirty work, until he had enough of this too and decided that now he had to earn it with his own work.
Pieter Engels, was the first Dutch artist to present himself as an entrepreneur, he founded the company EPO: Engels Products Organization. A company that made products instead of art. Products made of smooth, immaculate materials, reminiscent of the luxury decorative objects and utensils of the time.
The company and its products were marketed by means of leaflets, posters and flyers as was common practice in advertising. EPO was immediately picked up by the Dutch art world and became a successful company.
Typical EPO products are prototypes, restored furniture, assemblages, curtain pieces, girls coat pieces (1966) letter pieces and connection plates.
Some EPO key works from the late 1960s with art as their subject: Weight of a modern art piece(1968), A Modern Art Piece (Clothes of the Emporer) 1968. Golden Fiction(1968), Bad Constructed Canvas(1967, hommage a Engels).
With EPO, Pieter Engels, not only questioned the values of uniqueness and authenticity and the idea of art as individual expression, but also ironized the market mechanism of the art business.
Instead of a unique work of art, with a value that cannot be expressed in money, the work of art becomes a brand name article with the accompanying price tag.
Pieter Engels made the economic laws the subject of his art at a time when mentioning art and commerce in the same sentence was still taboo, in order to mercilessly expose the flat market mechanism in art. Looking at today, it is clear that art has not been able to escape the unrestrained power of the market and its ridiculous excesses.
An important position of Engels was, ‘Style as dogma is the vehicle of standstill. As a result, Engels didn’t just keep repeating the same trick, and soon founded another company: ENIO.
In 1967, after EPO, Engels founded his second institute: ENIO
ENIO, Engels New Interment Organization.
There is a connection between these two enterprises. In both, an elusive phenomenon is central, in one the art and in the other death, creation and death drive.
Although Engels’ offerings in the as always copious, ironically stated advertising texts with which he presented ENIO concerned primarily the burial of persons, for obvious reasons he had to limit himself in the work he executed to provisions for dead things such as ‘Coffin for 10.2 L of drowned water and
Coffin for a broken piece of wood.
Sometimes the sublimated aggression was not directed at the object itself but through the object at the audience, as in the electric suicide pieces from 1968. Art until death, suicide as a decadent pastime! The moral bankruptcy of art and the total failure of the art world as a whole!
Then came ETI, Engels Third Institute for research in subcultural brainbuilding (1969).(research in subcultural brainbuilding). ETI, sold ideas instead of products. The most striking action he carried out for this institute is the Strike Project from 1971, in which he offered the Dutch state, through minister Marga Klompe, a lifelong strike as a visual artist in exchange for an amount of fl 25,000000.
here were also a number of visualizations of inactivity periods and denial projects(project for visible negation, place for no chair)and art-fiction(sky-event) and transfunctional projects.
Anti-dating ( December 3, 1969 – December 3, 1970) Pieter Engels 31 years old, anti-dating 1951, Pieter Engels 13 years old. Pieter Engels, thus states that his thinking potential is predetermined and he can theoretically predict what kind of conclusions and (in)activities he will come to or will be able to come to.
In the 90’s he figures, the potential is there from birth!
In 1972 he releases the Double-EP: Engels fabulous oldest hits + oral signature.
In 1974 Pieter Engels founds, Genesis Foundation of resurrection of art and down with mass-communication.
Here he distances himself from every anti-art and anti-anti-art movement. He refers to the fact that art is pre-eminently something that cannot be approached rationally. Anyone who does is not an artist. In this period he also has a number of projects in which he paints in the dark from various angles in order, among other things, to eliminate virtuosity, the choice of color etc. and composition, the brushstroke.
A Genesis project: painting-pieces for a painter, released from his handicap: his well trained eyes- or- unchecked and uncorrected images(executed in complete darkness).
In 1976, Engels & Es founded, Brain Squad against mass communication and mediocrity,(BAMM). BAMM’s most important projects: Project Owlglass, and Es’ Worldwide wondering Gallery. Owlglass: Publication project against academism in the so called avangarde (minimal and conceptual art) artists and their critics. Owlglass consists of a series of 8 prints on poster size. These were distributed worldwide by The Worlwide Wandering Gallery van Es, among others.
PROJECT OWLGLASS 1975 -1977
Genesis Project: Engels’ Genesis Foundation, Engels’ fourth institute with the aim of: The Resurrection of art.
One of the threads running through the work of Pieter Engels is the questioning of image and writing – or rather, the undermining of dogmas, values, evaluations, laws and notions of style (in the narrower sense)
in the areas and fringes of contemporary visual art.
Owlgass was initially going to be shaped by means of purely linguistic publications, but eventually it became a combination of text and image, followed by a series of artworks.
The strength of Pieter Engels’ texts often lie in their ironizing, relativizing and perhaps badinage (yet paradoxically: with great seriousness), the visual work is often a combination of these elements with which he continually stimulates the dogmatic in the visual arts.
The 8 posters were sent in folded form worldwide by the worldwide wandering gallery of Simon Es ( Engels’ alter ego). All the posters sent were accompanied by a card, which the recipient could return with a comment or request to receive a signed deluxe copy for a fee of one hundred dollars.
1/ project ‘Owlglass’ TEMPORARY EVENT
aluminum text plates in the earth / large text plate: pricked text to appearances in current conceptual art, which Engels considers mediocre, stereotypical, not expressive and sleep-inducing.
2/ project ‘Owlglass’ A CRITIC IN HIS TIME
aluminium text plate + an artwork that supports this text in its intention/
text plate: jab at art critics and art dealers, who despite a certain complacency ( ) or bias ( ), always turn out to be just average ( or – new academy ) viewers /
supporting artwork – simon es / ENGELS A GOLDEN BARD AMONST ARTIST OR A DISTURBER OF THE BALANCE OF MEDIOCRITY
3/ project ‘Owlglass’ KARL MARX
aluminum text plate + supporting artwork /
text: poking fun at those who interpret democracy only in terms of the material /
supporting artwork – simon es / DOWN WITH MASS- COMMUNICATION DOWN WITH MEDIOCRITY
ENGLISH A BRIGHT FOOD PAR EXCEPTION
material: shoes – text image
materials: wood, velvet, copper and a gold bar.
4/ project ‘Owlglass’ ENGELS A MAGICIAN AMONGST ARTISTS OR A LONER WITHOUT A ‘CLAQUE’
image and text image /
image: a symbolic plea for the non-conformist among those artists who, because of their mentality, go through life (art) alone and perhaps because of that pure /
text image: a jab at those artists who conform for impure reasons /
5/ project ‘Owlglass’ ENGELS A ROSE ( AMONGST AN ARTIFICIAL BOUQEUT ) OR FADING ARTIST
image / text image / supporting artwork – simon es /
impact: similar to project 4
supporting artwork – simon es / visualization and alienation of the text / text image given
material / wood / velvet / photo / text image
6/ project ‘Owlglass’ ENGELS & ES / THE BEST ARTISTS OF HOLLAND SINCE MONDRIAAN JANSEN
text + supporting artwork – simon es /
text: joking text to those who – as in every present time – are not aware of an art in their time and often propagate a contemporary academism ( ) unconsciously and are sensitive to all kinds of machinations of a mostly commercial art trade /
supporting artwork: – simon es/ enGLISH ‘KING UNUSUAL’OR NOT TO FRAME
again to encourage the non-conformist in his contradictory activities and who is careful not to be labeled / materials / velvet, wood, text image, plexiglass
7/ project ‘Owlglass’ DUCHAMP
text image: symbolic ‘obliteration of a big name, which continues to infiltrate an artist through established art authorities, moreover, an artist who has become wrapped up and academies / every artist – by definition vain – needs to see himself as great ( ) – if he is to continue to find his drive to start again and again /
8/ project ‘Owlglass’ ENGLISH & ES MIND-SHARES
101 % mental profit
text image: gesture towards those who buy art as a material investment /
inversion: challenge to private investment in art or artist without material profit or noble gesture to the few among us who really strive throughout their lives to get the best out of themselves ( )
SEVENTIES NEW YORK
Paralellandscape 1980, series of landscapes in black and white because Engels was purely about the painterly actions derived from the movement of the landscape. Black and white is according to him a very pure form of expression, it is very minimal and therefore much more expressive. (He finds drawings e.g. by Rembrandt more exciting than his paintings).
The hanging beam emphasizes and kicks in an open door because a painted image of a landscape is not a landscape but a parallel reality of a landscape (a painted pipe is not a pipe, Magrite).
An essential part of my work is that I always involve the viewer (because without the viewer there is no work of art). By using text, among other things, I talk to the viewer, as it were. Such a bar with text gives the viewer something to hold on to or, on the contrary, he slips away. (Engels)
In 1981, Pieter Engels published Predicted Future Inventions, lithographs and text in collaboration with Gallerie Brinkman.
Among others, The selfhammering nail, Autoproductive machine.
Female landscape, 1982.
A series of paintings about the erotic movements of the female body.
INTRINSICAL ART WORKS 1983
Painted gold is more gold, a painted car is more car.
Gold as an introspective mirror 1984 – 1985
Paintings made with a gold blindfold and objects transformed into introspective objects encased in a gold blindfold.
1985 works about the universe and infinity.
REMEMBRANDT 1987 – 1989
Remembrandt (ahead of the roots), drawings and paintings about Rembrandt as a paraphrase and as a tribute to the first painter who painted beyond painting and or the painting materials themselves.
In 1989 Pieter Engels founded: Economic Sculptures(revaluation).
Just as with the work: Golden Fiction, an EPO product from 1968, soft mirrored aluminum plates with, underneath, on a hatch: on may 1968 this piece costs fl 4344,- $ 1200,- ₤ 502,92,- DM 4777,30,- Thats why it’s an art piece, it is not the artistic value that determines the economic value here but the other way around. Twenty-two years later, Engels says it again with his Economic Sculputers, in which sculpture refers not only to his own work but to the economy in its totality. They are assemblages of art painters and or sculpture materials and the receipts of the materials arranged. The prices of the artworks are the sum of those receipts, increased by a hefty mark-up. After all, this is about art.
Linguimage are a series of works that are an amalgamation of language and image.
This is the third time Pieter Engels (Rosmalen 1938) has exhibited at Galerie van den Berg. In 1989 he showed the series ‘Remembrandts’, a number of landscapes based on Rembrandt. For this, the mainly conceptual artist Engels returned to paper and paint. The second exhibition, ‘Economic Sculptures’ in 1991, was mainly about the concept. Engels made collages of bills of material, a piece of wood, a bit of paint, a frame etc. The difference between cost price and actual price of the artwork is the value of Engels’ creativity.
The concept also plays a leading role in the current exhibition. Engels’ title is the self-devised word Linguimage, a combination of language and image. Twelve works are a visualization of ingenious, often witty wordplay. All works are executed in black and white, sometimes with a single golden accent. The first impression is one of a sober rather chic presentation. Each image contains a word puzzle. An example: four reclining swinging axes are attached to a column in which golden letters are chiseled the word ‘fource’. The strength of the axes and the number are reflected in that word. Another example: on a self-portrait of Engels he projects his head once more, which then becomes the work ‘Ahead’. I also find ‘Eraxeon’ very ingenious, in which the English word for axe and erection are combined. The accompanying image is a proudly upright axe. Perfectly made jokes, then. But sometimes also very worthwhile as an image. The fallen aluminum buckets on a deep black column, for example, make for a visually attractive composition. An exhibition that leaves you with a smile on your face. And the accompanying (high) prices…. Oh well, Engels has already shown how he calculates them.
Mary Winters 1992.
ABSTRACTION ABSTRACTED 1995
DOUBLE CROSSED 1996
Double crossed, a series of considerable size takes Engels further in playing with words.
PORTRAITS AND LANDSCAPES 1998 – 2005
After a long period of illness: ART ABOUT ART 2009 – 2017
Whereas Engels previously denounced the art apparatus in a broader sense, in this series he refers to specific artists. In Defontanara he quoted Lucio Fontana (1899 – 1968), who like Engels made destruction the subject of his art, by making cuts in the canvas. But also Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968) was quoted in What is in a name R.MUTT (poverty) Marcel Duchamp re- invented (2010). R.MUTT is written in marker on the back of a canvas: the name with which Duchamp signed his famous urinal as early as 1917, Engels here associated with poverty, a phonetic translation of his name. It is possible that Ebgels was making a value judgment about Duchamp’s work here or that he was referring to the fact that Duchamp was also concerned with the economic aspects of art. (Fleur Junier,PIETER ENGELS the rrrolls – royce among artists, pag 39,40 )