Merijn Hos for Dutch Design Week
Eindhoven’s Dutch Design Week is coming up, and Mini Galerie will host three curated art exhibitions. One of the shows is a solo exhibition by Merijn Hos, so I call him up at his home studio in Utrecht to discuss his latest project.
“I was napping”, he smiles sleepily. A rare thing when you have a three week old baby, a little girl called Lies. “She’s my firstborn too, so this is all totally new for me.”
Hos tells me more about how happy he is to finally be a father, and then the conversation switches to art. I ask him about the series of sculptures he’s been working on.
“I’ve actually been working on this project on and off for one and a half years. It’s been quite a process. It started during the first lockdown, when I bought this kickass woodcutting machine. I started sawing out shapes, and gluing them together. Then I began to experiment with layering the wood with plaster and paint, and it looked like rough coloured clay. It actually looked cool, kind of naive.”
I can see how the word naive fits in, and there is a certain childlike innocence to the sculptures. “It almost looks like a little toy town, or some kind of alien planetary system”, I say.
“Yeah or also kind of like naive African art. Or a circus. They look like molecules too, or cakes.” Hos laughs at this, and then tells me about his cunning hypothetical plan to replace the sculptures with exact cake replicas for the exhibition.
Me: “Oh so like you could have one sculpture that’s actually a cake?”
Hos: “No no. All of them would be cake. I’m really an all or nothing kind of guy.”
We laugh at the thought of cutting the works into slices, wondering how it would taste.
“I find exhibition openings boring. Why not make them fun? I’m really into happenings, making a spectacle of my art. That’s why I asked people to play music at my last show, and why I had dried flowers put up around the gallery.”
The project is still in progress, but Hos tells me about his next steps for his sculptures.
“I want to add black material to the sculptures, make them a bit darker, more dramatic. To contrast with all the bright, happy stuff. I think it demonstrates how I feel about the world. I’ve had this phrase stuck in my head over the past few days: The Weight of the World.”
Me: “So is that going to be the name of the show?”
Hos: “I actually googled how much the earth weighs. It’s a really long number. 5,972E24KG. That will be the title.”
On the topic of numbers, Hos explains why he made 45 sculptures.
“I’m 43, but I’ve lived in 45 different calendar years. Every piece felt like a self portrait: I’m usually super optimistic and happy, but the black material represents my own darker layer. Like I actually enjoy feeling shitty sometimes. I quit drinking six years ago, but being hungover was actually my favourite part about drinking.”
I ask Hos whether he has any other projects on the go. An illustrator by trade, Hos also works on a lot of commercial campaigns, including video collaborations with his brother Jurriaan. “20% of my time goes to installations, my personal projects. It’s where I can really follow my heart, make no compromises.”
Dutch Design Week takes place in Eindhoven from the 16th to the 24th of October. Merijn Hos’ solo show 5,972E24KG and the two other curated exhibitions by Mini Galerie open on Friday 15th at KEVN, Galileïstraat 2, 18:00-22:00.
Text by Alicia Hansen
Photography by Pierre Zylstra