Sybren Renema



Born 1988 in Dordrecht, The Netherlands

The only possible way to classify Sybren Renema’s practice is to list the things he loves: explorers, natural history, dinosaurs, adventure, and music. His style is most palpable in subject matter. Renema’s resistance towards labels and categories within contemporary art is a recent art historical development. As it is the responsibility of every generation of artists to define and redefine what art is, the self-described Romantic has Modernist governance. Renema’s practice exists at art’s edges. His process of working flourishes from the heart of all discoveries: curiosity.

The Glaswegian works in limitless mediums. His art appears slight in manipulations of material but is always cemented with dense research. Renema’s process is unique in that reading is integral to production. His writings are infectiously compelling, filled with humor, philosophical musings, and laced with anecdotes from a glorious bedrock of classics, scientific knowledge and superfluous factual data. His practice often reveals uncanny knowledge of Colonialist historical facts or his penchant for Romanticism. He articulates the intellectual movement’s impact on our lives in the 21st century. Majestic mountain ranges are reconfigured by the artist through a simple inversion, as he conjures the soulful searching found in landscape paintings from two centuries earlier. A video performance documents the artist attempting to replicate artistic process, while he attempts to go bowling in a most tenacious ocean. Indeed, Renema is a rare case.

CYDONIA invited Renema to produce a text for its inaugural exhibition Ex-Y in September 2014, which investigated Captain Scott’s treacherous journey into the South Pole, the mythical status of Bas Jan Ader, whilst trying to make sense of contemporary masculinity. Renema is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague. The artist was the youngest student to have been accepted to the Glasgow School of Art and the youngest to graduate, when he earned his MFA in 2011. The artist has exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, China, and the States. His first book, based on David Livingstone’s mythology and relics, You Took the Part That was Once my Heart was awarded support by Creative Scotland and subsequently sold-out. Renema has recorded several albums of experimental saxophone, and he has toured with numerous bands around Europe.

The artist lives and works in Glasgow.