225 x 4 x 2 cm
Neon tubes, tape
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
The Dutch artist Jan van Munster (born 1939 in Gerinchem, Netherlands) studied at the Academie van Beeldende Kunsten in Rotterdam (1955–1957) and the Instituut voor Kunstnijverheidsonderwijs in Amsterdam (1957–1969). Initially interested in growth processes, in the early 1970s, he developed this focus into the substantiation of the energy present in heat, cold, magnetism, and light. He thus designed several “cold objects,” over which snow crystals would gradually form a cover (see the “Study for a Perfect Snow Ball” from 1992 and “Frozen Light” from 1996), or he melted plus and minus signs in of a blanket of snow. The energetic processes presented by van Munster in ephemeral art actions or in a permanent form primarily unfold within the tension between the opposite poles of black/white, warm/cold, light/dark, or positive/negative. While they may seem like minimalist expressions, they go beyond the scientifically inspired exploration of physical phenomena, for the artist once said in a conversation that his work also always incorporates existential questions.
Van Munster’s titles often include references to a work’s essential theme. In the case of the neon work in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, “Positiv-Negativ” (the epitome of a pair of opposites), the title has a double meaning because the electrical circuit of a neon light also needs a positive and negative pole. As in many of his other works, the artistic form here has been reduced to a minimum. The lower half of the neon tube is left bare, while the upper half is covered in tape, its brightness visible only in the reflection on the wall. A single gesture or simple intervention is therefore all that is needed to illustrate the polarity of light/dark in this artwork.
In recent years, van Munster has developed a new approach to energy in his neon works. He represents his own brain waves in the curvatures of neon tubes, thereby creating closed circuits of two forms of energy: mental and physical.