One Foot in Heaven

Overview

Janpeter Muilwijk is a Dutch artist who works in drawing, painting and tapestry. Whilst he is widely collected in museums, public, and private collections in the Netherlands and abroad, until recently he has not shown in the UK. ‘One Foot in Heaven’ is his first London solo exhibition, presenting a collection of new drawings and tapestries.

Janpeter’s artworks explore the concept of the Heavenly, seeking to connect to it from our earthly existence. He starts with imagery that is grounded in the myth of creation. Both Adam and Eve appear, Adam as a dark-skinned figure swimming in primordial waters, Eve white and floating in the air accompanied by a comet. They come together in a larger work, Adam dreaming as Eve approaches whilst both are stalked by a serpent. This floating between waking and sleeping states, between dream and reality, is an ongoing theme explored in the larger drawings. A man sits on the end of a jetty, eyes closed, palms up to the sky as if waiting for an epiphany to elevate his earthly existence. In the largest painting a man lies sleeping in a poppy field is approached by two figures, a girl of flesh and a woman of stars, to suggest how simply dreaming of an ideal can afford a fluid transition between earth and Heaven.

And yet the earthly in Janpeter’s works is just as idyllic as the dream. Fish, birds, and flora are all resplendent, existing as beautiful ideal examples of their type. His figures look out at us in uncomplicated optimism, their bodies given a satisfying solidity whilst also somehow feeling ethereal and light. Their eyes are oversized, windows onto larger souls, gateways to greater empathy. His ‘New Gardener’ presents an image of the risen Christ as if seen by Mary Magdalene, with pronounced stigmata through which light emanates. This is part of a reassessment of the wound and its value to us, a theme furthered in his tapestries. ‘Harvest’ presents a gathering around a Christ-like figure from whom a grapevine springs, in which Janpeter tries to make sense of the Eucharistic story: how something so gruesome as the blood from a wound can be turned into a blessing. The two accompanying tapestries focus on earthly elements and their dangers, with figures surrounded by animals representing fecundity but also peril. In ‘Resurrection’ a boar is hemmed in by a thicket of thorns; in ‘Adam Swims’ the waters teem with wildlife that could well be benign but also threatening. The tangible fabric of these artworks underlines the earthly nature of their Heavenly visions: the thread must be cut in their making. The Heavenly, in Janpeter’s work, is rooted in the imperfect earth, and it is there that it finds expression. For him, a Rumi quote has become ever more important over the years: “the wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Artworks

Janpeter Muilwijk | One Foot in Heaven
Janpeter Muilwijk
One Foot in Heaven
Janpeter Muilwijk | New Gardener
Janpeter Muilwijk
New Gardener
Janpeter Muilwijk | Sprout
Janpeter Muilwijk
Sprout
Janpeter Muilwijk | Adam is Waiting
Janpeter Muilwijk
Adam is Waiting
Janpeter Muilwijk | Garden Serpent
Janpeter Muilwijk
Garden Serpent
Janpeter Muilwijk | Resurrection
Janpeter Muilwijk
Resurrection
Janpeter Muilwijk | Adam Swims
Janpeter Muilwijk
Adam Swims
Janpeter Muilwijk | Grape Harvest
Janpeter Muilwijk
Grape Harvest
Janpeter Muilwijk | Airspace
Janpeter Muilwijk
Airspace
Janpeter Muilwijk | Adam Swims
Janpeter Muilwijk
Adam Swims

Video

Installation Images

One Foot in Heaven

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