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, philosophy and music. Although these interests might seem disparate, they are connected through my particular interest in the long 19th century (1789-1914). 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. My projects interrogate how concepts emanating from this period are also relevant in our own era. I believe that in these fast-changing times, such an approach to the world is relevant, as it helps us understand the long-term influences that shaped our contemporary intellectual discourse.

The mediums I have worked in range from drawings to ceramics and from 3D printing to video. To me, combining different mediums 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. Perfection is not important, and I believe in the power of the dilettante, as well as in decompartmentalising disciplines. As such, I am particularly drawn to the notion of the amateur in its original meaning as ‘(s)he who loves engaging in an activity’. 

In preparation for new projects, I engage in periods of prolonged research. This includes archival research, but also involves travelling, field work and collecting artefacts from which to draw inspiration. I occasionally teach, most recently at Glasgow University, which helps contextualise my own practice in a wider context. 

A CV can be downloaded here.