There’s a buzz around Frank Ammerlaan. At the 2013 edition of The Armory Show, Upstream Gallery sold out its booth of the Dutch painter’s works in the first hour of the first day. Ask a Scandinavian curator or gallerist about emerging artists and you’re likely to hear Ammerlaan’s name.
The thirtysomething artist, who lives and works in London, is already well known in some art circles—and it seems that he’s about to become acquainted with a much wider audience. “Outside the Wireframe,” at SIM Galeria in Curitiba, marks the artist’s first exhibition in Brazil. And many of the works were created during Ammerlaan’s recent residency at São Paulo’s experimental art space PIVÔ.
The show might be divided into two categories: the dreamy abstractions that have earned Ammerlaan his reputation, and the digital prints and pieces that were specifically inspired by the artist’s stay in Brazil. The former are marked by the psychedelic quality that his work is often noted for. That’s partly due to his choice of materials. The artist uses chemicals, oils, thread, and metal—industrial and unromantic—which is what makes the final effect, dreamy and ethereal, so surprising. There’s something about the mysterious glow of some works that calls to mind a glimmering sea creature, while others evoke the embers of a faraway fire. Even his metal collages have a lively quality.
The latter category of works featured in “Outside the Wireframe” are reflections of Ammerlaan’s experience in São Paulo. On his daily walks to his studio, located in the gritty center of one of the world’s largest cities, Ammerlaan picked up materials—aluminum cans, glass, PVC banner—to incorporate into his works, either figuratively or literally. One such untitled work isn’t just a reimagining of a soda can, in this case on wire mesh glass. It’s a reference to São Paulo’s trash pickers, who collect recycled cans to earn a living—and, by extension, a reference to the economic instability of Brazil itself. Ammerlaan has often professed his interest in peripheral vision, in the details that exist at the edge of the frame. What could be more on the edge of the frame, so to speak, than some of the city’s poorest residents sorting through trash?
In “Outside the Wireframe,” Ammerlaan doesn’t just show a Brazilian audience the works that have made him famous elsewhere in the world. He shows his personal vision of Brazil itself: tough and beautiful.