Biography

Sybren Renema was born in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, in 1988. He currently lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Artists’ statement

My work originates from my various academic interests, which cover subjects including geosciences, history, theology and music. I am also very attracted to intellectual or physical failure. Past projects have interrogated the legacy of Goethe and his pseudo-scientific Farbenlehre, the drug use of the English Romantic poets, the polar expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, David Livingstone’s afterlife in Africa and the ideologies behind classical music. Although these interests might seem disparate, they are connected through my particular interest in the long 19th century (1789-1914). Many of my projects could be described as an interrogation of how concepts emanating from this period are still relevant in the current era. I believe that in these highly supercharged times, such an approach to the world is acutely relevant, as it helps us understand the long-term influences that shaped our contemporary intellectual discourse.

A result of these wide range of interests is that the mediums in which I work are quite diverse. I have used traditional formats like drawing or ceramics, but also technologically mediated approaches such as 3D printing or video. To me, combining these different approaches in the same exhibition is a way of highlighting the complexity of the world in which we live and the mongrel nature of our discourse. I believe in the power of the dilettante and in decompartmentalising disciplines. I am particularly drawn to the notion of the amateur in its original meaning as ‘(s)he who loves engaging in an activity’. This is also why I am very content to work in other disciplines than visual art. I think my work as a musician and occasional writer help shape my approach to my visual activity.

In preparation for new projects, I often engage in periods of prolonged research. This normally starts with extensive reading, but also involves travelling and collecting. These things are generally connected, and I have a rather large private collection of rare books, artefacts and fossils, from which I get my inspiration for new works. 

A CV can be downloaded here.