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Over the moon: exhibition ‘Yes, I Do’ celebrates romantic love
The Holland Times, 8 November 2023

Are you happily in love? If you were, you wouldn’t visit this exhibition. You don’t go to a doctor if you are not sick, do you? What do you want to change in your love life? How would you like to achieve that? Imitation is the easiest way. Impersonate someone who seems to have the love you are looking for. But there lies a problem, in this age of irony, commitment issues and anxiety, a time when more marriages end prematurely than last forever, and app developers make their money by constantly encouraging us to consume mostly the superficial, physical side of love. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the latter – but a whole parade of philosophers, sociologists and novelists can tell you, it is no substitute for romantic love.

Besides, romantic love is a many-headed monstrous angel (or angel-like monster) that is difficult to describe in its entirety. In this exhibition, you are presented with five ‘successful’ couples to serve as examples. They have individually sought inspiration in that which is most familiar to them: the relationship with their other half. That these examples are provided by artists is an added bonus. For the artist, the Romantic myth tells us, is a special type of person. A creative genius, a visionary, someone who observes, lives and loves in a way that is beyond the reach of mere mortals: more complete, more intense, fuller and freer (and thus perhaps also more difficult, conflicted, individualistic, lonely). So if you want to go all-in, there are no better guides than these ten artists.

The group exhibition ‘Yes, I Do’ is currently on display at art space Nieuw Dakota. The participating artists are: Sylvie Zijlmans, Hewald Jongenelis, Marta Volkova, Slava Shevelenko, Domenico Mangano, Marieke van Rooy, Tengbeh Kamara, Sophie Engels, Stan Wannet and Leila Anderson. The artists are challenged to go through their artistic process without consultation with their regular colleagues, although some couples have worked together for decades. This challenge raises questions about their identity as individual artists: Can they create successful works of art without their trusted artistic significant other? Or can this freedom actually lead to a new, refreshing creative impulse? In ‘Yes, I Do’ the artists create visual love letters that call for honesty, vulnerability and expressing love for their great love. They look for the answer to the question: ‘Why do I love my partner and how do I show this to the world?’