Artist Tim De Vries exposes secrets with transparent epoxy resin. By hiding the items in plain sight, he questions the secretiveness of it all.
Tim De Vries was born in a village in the Netherlands, but the limits of his provincial upbringing, combined with his childhood love of Hollywood movies like Wolf of Wall Street, Back to the Future, and Beverly Hills Cop, led to a desire for a different kind of life. He even dreamed of becoming an archaeologist, like his hero, Indiana Jones. As he grew older, he realized it was not so much archaeology, but the glamorous and exciting lifestyle of a treasure hunter that intrigued him.
The Netherlands are known to most art enthusiasts for portrayals of idyllic landscapes, and painters like Rembrandt who reveled in the depths of light and shadow. These images were rooted in the society of the time. Like these artists, De Vries’ imagery is drawn from the society he lives in, but the world he inhabits is a radically different one from the painters of centuries ago, and his creations reflect this fact.
De Vries’ path as an artist has not been a traditional one. He studied business in Amsterdam, and went on to work in real estate in Ibiza. In Ibiza, he was able to experience the nightlife he had dreamed of as a young man, which inspires his work to this day. Through these experiences, he learned to question both his rural childhood and the big city party lifestyle he has adopted.
Important influences on De Vries’ work include Andy Warhol and Roy Liechtenstein, along with figures like Arman and James Rosenquist. In his early career, artists like these inspired him to make his own sunglasses into a piece of art, which set him on the path he continues on today. He started off with a collection of design objects, and from there learned various sculptural techniques allowing him to manufacture these objects himself.
De Vries aims to shock and surprise, and isn’t shy about it. He uses his art to question why some things are hidden and others are left out in the open, and through this line of questioning, he reveals unspoken social norms. The phrase “hidden in plain sight” has become a touchstone for his creative work. The contradictions in his work reflect the contradictions of the world he observes.
Many of De Vries’ pieces make use of epoxy resin, a clear substance in which he embeds everyday items. These items, clearly visible but impossible to touch, embody his philosophy. What he demonstrates with these objects is that much of what we know about how the world works happens behind closed doors. Although the rules are unspoken, the unspoken is not unknown, and this is the dilemma his work brings to light.
The Hangover Table, a clear table embedded with items referencing his own life, epitomizes De Vries’ aesthetic. Here we see what happens behind the scenes- but isn’t commented on in polite company. The objects collected here reference sex, drugs, and money, mimicking the remnants of a wild night out. A casual viewer might at first mistake it for a real scene, rather than a piece of art, reflecting how De Vries invites the everyday into his art.
Pieces like Cold Cash (2018), and Gold Rush (2018), give the viewer a window into the illicit. Both take the form of transparent briefcases, showing contents of dollar bills and gold bars. Others, like Light Saber (2019), of course a Star Wars reference, are drawn from pop culture.
Much of his work also draws from his memory of growing up in the 1980s. A 2019 piece titled Gordon Gekko Brick Phone is one such example, drawing on a retro aesthetic and Hollywood nostalgia. The bronze reproduction of the now outdated brick phone showcases his sense of humor. It is the immediately recognizable trademark of an era.
He continues to take his inspiration from the world around him, drawing from current events, pop culture, alongside his own experiences and views of modern society, as pointed criticism comes together with nostalgia.
De Vries objects to the unwritten rules of society. Questioning and exposing modern life is a crucial part of his conception of the role of the modern artist.
De Vries also has a message for his fellow artists: the myth of the “starving artist” is just that, a myth. We are all familiar with the stereotype of the artist who suffers for their art- many know the story, for example, of Van Gogh, who died without selling a single painting. Stories like these lead many to believe that the artist must be a lonely, penniless, misunderstood genius, but as De Vries himself will tell you, this doesn’t have to be the case.
De Vries aims to inspire other artists to look beyond the idea that you have to live in poverty to make art. Outside the studio, he enjoys skiing in the Alps, and splits his time between Amsterdam and Ibiza. The sale of his art contributes to his ability to spend time living a life many only dream of.
Filtered through his own experiences and memories, De Vries aims to create work that is exciting and accessible, without sacrificing his conviction that art can expose society’s hypocrisy. In his world, everyday objects tell funny, flashy, and intriguing stories about the society we live in.
To learn more about Tim he can be reached by Instagram @studiotimdevries
Author: Ian Monroe