Date
April 15, 2020
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Spaces, images, rooms, drawings, places, movies, sculptures. Exploring the eclectic artwork production of Levi Van Veluw is an emotional journey across diverse media.

From designing religious non-religious spaces to monolithic sculptures to using his own face as a canvas, the Dutch artist drags us into a meditative journey.

The extensive use of monochromatic realizations confers a refined character to the works of Levi Van Veluw, where the eternal battle between rational and irrational is finally visible through coherent patterns disrupted by chaotic ones, logical arrangements that build evocative atmospheres.

On a quest to foster the influence of art over the multifaceted design world, DesignWanted interviewed Levi van Veluw to learn more about his journey and inner motivation.

Levi van Veluw - Chapel
Sanctum installation designed especially for Tenuta Dello Scompiglio, Lucca, Italy

Who is Levi van Veluw? How did your journey begin?

Levi van Veluw: “I was born in 1985 and for the past 12 years, I produced multi-disciplinary artworks that include scenographic installations, photographs, films, sculptures, paintings, and drawings. In the beginning, my work was mainly photographic and video-based, experimenting with sculptural self-portraits.

After my first gallery show, I developed my work and felt the urge to make immersive installations, resulting in life-size experiences with visitors walking through spaces and environments.”

Levi van Veluw - Sanctum
The Sanctum installation by Levi van Veluw emerges all the senses of the visitor at once

Why focus on multi-disciplinary art?

Levi van Veluw: “To be honest, when I graduated I was just 23 years old and had my first solo exhibition a few months later, still so young it was difficult to have a clear focus. I had a lot of ambition but I needed time to develop my own signature. Because there was a lot of buzz going around my work with exhibitions, fairs, galleries, I didn’t have this time. I had to follow my own path, evolve and not letting the success determine my artistry. Looking back, by browsing through my latest book, I think you will see a very clear growth in my work.

To be able to make art you have to feel a certain necessity. It can feel pointless sometimes, but in the end, just being in total control of making something completely new is very exciting. The reason for making art is not to work towards an ultimate goal, it’s not about an opening or sales, it’s only about the process of creation.”

Levi van Veluw based Sanctum on of the first religious buildings, the Tabernacle, also called the tent of meeting

Your work has been exhibited internationally in leading museums and institutions, what is the message you want to convey through it? 

Levi van Veluw: “This message is not a clear one, and themes and concepts evolve over time.
However, I think the main concept in all of my work is about the questions and observations I have had and still have through life. Questions like: what is the reason people control their surroundings in an obsessive way? Why the desire of man to make the invisible and spiritual side of faith tangible through matter?

These questions lead to work that is experienced as disruptive environments with the use of suggestive and unrecognizable forms, the visitor becomes disassociated from his existing associations. 

For all my works I try to achieve an experience rather than a moment to rationally analyze the work. All elements are suggestive and reinterpreted and therefore make it a personal experience about the underlying tension between our desire for a regulated universe and the rational impossibility of total control.

Levi van Veluw - Installatie beyond matter
Beyond Matter is an installation by Levi van Veluw using mixed materials such as metal, glass, wood, and pigment

You create incredible and enchanting multi-disciplinary projects that often reference various elements form your own childhood. What is your creative process? 

Levi van Veluw: “I think if you look at my work it is all based on each other. The development is quite clear
if you see everything together. Most of the time my drawings and paintings are the starting point for installations, videos, and sculptural work. Within my drawings and paintings, I can freely experiment with spaces, objects, light, etc.

From that I start imagining that the painting is coming alive. When I’m convinced it is interesting I just start making the piece, this of course, is a combination of making sketches, technical drawings and calculating the needed budget.”

The Relativity Of The Matter becomes the starting point for a more elaborate proposition in the expositive space of Tenuta Dello Scompiglio in Italy

Your installation Sanctum is an attempt to create a religious spatial experience without any tie to denomination. Can you tell us how the idea of the installation came to be and the development behind it?

Levi van Veluw: “The installation Sanctum, developed especially for Tenuta Dello Scompiglio in Italy, testifying of a fictitious religious conviction, engages all the senses of the visitor.

Based Sanctum on of the first religious buildings, the Tabernacle, also called the tent of meeting. This tent served as a place of worship and symbolized God’s presence amidst those who had gathered.

The interior of the Tabernacle consisted of 3 spaces: the Forecourt, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, sacred in ascending gradation. Like the Tabernacle, this work features symmetry and harmony, to express the strive for divine perfection and reflect the divine holiness through the careful gradations of the three phases.

The installation was completely site-specific, the space lies 8 meters underground and was mysterious as it cannot be seen from the outside. This and the shape of the architecture was leading for the shape and concept of Sanctum.”

Levi van Veluw - The Monolith installation
In The Monolith the visual elements such as grids, geometric shapes, a desk or specific surroundings are all reminiscent of Levi van Veluw’s previous work and are made visible in a variety of ways

If you had the chance to collaborate with one artist/designer, who would it be? And what would you work on together?

Levi van Veluw: “I always like to do something to make a crossover between my world and a completely different discipline. For example, walking through my installations and feel it would have great potential for a movie. I would really like to develop a complete world for an independent science fiction movie, something completely different and original instead of all the standard scenery you see so often. Another ambition would be to translate the installations into interactive theatre or create a complete environment for a large opera.”

Levi van Veluw - The Monolith installation
The Monolith installation is a perfect cube that is set in the middle of a space and invites the visitor to a new universe

What is the next step for Levi van Veluw? 

Levi van Veluw: “Everything is on hold for a moment because of the Corona crisis. Therefore a completely new large scale installation is waiting to be exhibited.

Also, a lot of new paintings and sculptures are ready to be exhibited in the galleries representing my work. In between, we are working on an installation show that can be seen only through reservations and I will make a virtual tour through my studio, to be released online at the beginning of May.”

Levi van Veluw - self protrait
The Origin of the Beginning is a series of installations, photographs, and videos in which Levi van Veluw draws from his own childhood memories to develop his oeuvre of self-portraits
Levi van Veluw - Origin of the Beginning
In The Origin of the Beginning series, three rooms are covered with thousands of wooden blocks, balls, and wooden slats; we even see Levi van Veluw himself covered from head to toe. The repetitive structures seemingly express a ‘horror vacui’ and recall Van Veluw’s youth and his obsessive attempts to gain control over his life by controlling his surroundings