Riet Wijnen
Sixteen Conversations on Abstraction Tool One (Template Rulers 1-5)

  • Publication date: 2022
  • Publisher: Kunstverein Milano, San Serriffe, P/////AKT, and Kunstverein Toronto
  • Concept: Riet Wijnen
  • Designed by: Dafne Boggeri, Linda van Deursen, Mandy El-Sayegh, Ima-Abasi Okon, Haegue Yang
  • Produced by: Gouweleeuw (Zaandam, NL)
  • Price: 480 CA$

Kunstverein is thrilled to present Riet Wijnen’s set of template rulers, designed by five artists and graphic designers from a variety of locations, contexts and practices: Dafne Boggeri, Linda van Deursen, Mandy El-Sayegh, Ima-Abasi Okon and Haegue Yang, invited by Wijnen, and collected in a handmade etui designed by the artist. The edition is produced on the occasion of Wijnen’s solo exhibition Sixteen Conversations on Abstraction (table / table) at Kunstverein Milano, 2022.

The template rulers loosely refer to those rulers used as devices in geometric and technical drawing in the engineering and construction industries—with cutout shapes, often in semitransparent colours—to measure distances as well as draw shapes in scale. These devices were also translated into simpler forms, letters and numbers for a wider and younger audience. The rulers go against the grain of that original function, and offer the fascinating possibility to play with drawing and writing to arrive at different forms and/as letters. This playing involves precision and concentration, yet allows for an enormous amount of freedom to break through the boundaries of fixed, standardized systems, such as fonts and types.

Wijnen uses the template ruler in her practice as a tool to create type designs that balance between being abstract forms and readable letters, these designs she applies in her woodcuts and other sculptural works. She is interested in the template ruler as a tool that slows down the act of writing: words fall apart into letters, and letters become forms rather than meaning.

Riet Wijnen (b.1988, Venray, NL. Lives in Amsterdam) is an artist whose practice involves sculpture, photograms, working through texts, woodcuts and more recently, type design. Wijnen is interested in incomplete histories of abstraction, and what and who are already there in ways we might not yet know. To do this she looks to elders, hosting practitioners from the past and present within her work who have been active in the field of art during early modernism, or in science, philosophy, education and activism. Bringing them together through fictional conversations and sculptures to reconsider histories and better understand what comes next, Wijnen centres perception, language and organizational structures. This research comes together in the cycle Sixteen Conversations on Abstraction (2015) and publications related to language and biographies of female modernists that provide sources for her practice while functioning independently, such as Saloua Raouda Choucair (2022), Homophone Dictionary (2019), Grace Crowley (2019), Abstraction Création: Art non-figuratif (reprint and translation)(2014) and Marlow Moss (2013). Wijnen has had solo exhibitions at venues including Manifold Books, Amsterdam (2019); Lumen Travo, Amsterdam (2018); P/////AKT, Amsterdam (2016) and Dolores, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam (2015). She was a resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (2017–18) and has participated in groups shows at, among others, SculptureCenter, New York; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA, Portland; Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Utrecht and Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm. Wijnen teaches in the Graphic Design and TXT department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam and in 2022 is a resident at the Van Doesburghuis in Paris and Sundaymorning@ekwc in Oisterwijk, NL.