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Superfan (2024)
John Yuyi, “Becoming Famous Rihanna”Courtesey of the artist and Madé van Krimpen

Superfan: this group show invites artists to celebrate their idols

From Rihanna to David Bowie and Billie Eilish, Superfan is an exhibition in which artists pay homage to the artists who inspire and obsess them

Why is it so fascinating to learn about the obsessions – secret or otherwise – of artists we admire? Why do we long to discover what inspires the artists whose work we love? Perhaps it’s about the desire to somehow demystify the creative process or to unlock a piece of secret information revealing how great art is made, or maybe it’s a simple curiosity to be exposed to new sources of inspiration. Whatever the reason, there is something so undeniably alluring about the possibility of tracing the creative lineage back through its various sources.

SUPERFAN, the latest exhibition at the Madé van Krimpen gallery in Amsterdam, invites artists to pay homage to other artists who’ve inspired them. “It’s a celebration of creativity and a testament to the power of artistic influence,” says curator and gallerist Van Krimpen. “Some artists are inspired by their favourite music and artworks, some by childhood memories of their personal heroes and others by perspective-widening political views. Ultimately, this is an exhibition about artists showing gratitude to another creative mind, appreciation of the legacy they recognise as their artist lineage, and an invitation to inspire people to create more.”

This edition of the group show features the work of John Yuyi, Naré Eloyan, Bodil Ouédraogo, Eva Roefs, and Sarah De Vos who all share work paying tribute to their icons. In a conversation over email, Van Krimpen tells Dazed about the process of approaching artists and their response to the concept. “Some artists immediately have something in mind that they’re fans of; some need to think more and approach the theme differently,” she says. “Bodil Ouédraogo really thought about where she’s a fan of. Her focus shifts to the West African sculpture collection of her father, which grew during her life. She loves how the sculptures relate to each other as a collective. [Whereas] Sarah De Vos captured a literal scene from a performance – the lead of a Belgian band she is a fan of. It’s such a nice painting, where you can see the admiration.”

Reflecting on Amsterdam-based artist Naré Eloyan, the curator says: “I find her work very beautiful and it was interesting because she also made works of her idols as a child.” In a statement about the show, Amsterdam-based artist Eloyan elaborates: “I drew inspiration from David Bowie’s cut-up method, which involves literally cutting up existing texts to generate new meanings by rearranging the pieces as seen in [his song] “Moonage Daydream” and influenced by Beat novelist William S Burroughs. I applied the same technique to create “Teenage Daydream (ladies of the evening)”. I took pleasure in cutting up my own paintings and writings, rearranging them randomly. Translating this method to the vases, “Teenage daydream” becomes a dance between subject matter and surface beauty.”

Taiwanese artist John Yuyi frequently explores the phenomenon of fandom itself. The pieces included in the show are taken from a previous series Becoming Famous in which she takes self-portraits with temporary tattoos of famous faces plastered over her own, exploring not only her own admiration for figures such as Billie Eilish and Rihanna but also “the concept of fame and the power of influence in today’s society".

As much as everything else, SUPERFAN is also about the simple pleasure of fandom. “This exhibition is also about the joy and admiration expressed toward others. It triggers something quirky in your brain when you’re a big fan of something… the obsession, those tingles. It often starts with artists I work with, whom I also admire,” Van Krimpen says. I find it fascinating when you have such admiration for something, or when you delve almost obsessively into it, listen to it, or watch it, as if you're kind of in love. It’s about the admiration of creativity. and [each artist has] such different approaches to being a superfan which led to completely different expressions.”

Ultimately, Van Krimpen’s hope for the show is that it champions and encourages appreciation. “Embrace the fanaticism, enjoy the extravagance, and let yourself be overwhelmed by the exaggerated joy of being a superfan!”

SUPERFAN is showing at Madé van Krimpen in Amsterdam until April 6, 2024. 

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