As a gallery owner, I got to know the work of Riki Mijling in 2015. At that time I had already made several large exhibitions with work of some geometric abstracts such as Guy Vandenbranden, Victor Noël, Mark Verstockt, Gaston De Mey and Geneviève Claisse. Their work fascinates me because they belong to the generation that, after the Second World War, wanted to breathe new life into constructivism. Their starting point was where the first generation of constructivists had stopped: the complete freedom of thought. They created immediately from abstraction. The figurative phase, in which, for example, Mondrian made a systematic abstraction from the image of a tree, had become unnecessary. Formal constructions of abstract basic figures could immediately be brought together in compositions that had only arisen in the mind of the individual artist. It translated into very tight canvases and drawings with pure compositions that had been stripped of all semblance of materiality.
The work of Riki Mijling occupies a very innovative place in the tradition of constructivism. Although her starting point is also the universal language of form, her work has a fundamentally deeper stratification which one often feels from the first sight. In her work, Mijling uses the power of the environment and the observer in every possible way. In the first place, she does this by making the void part of the whole. Openings and spaces in between are part of the construction. In addition, she allows her work to be positioned differently each time: horizontally or vertically, against each other or apart, the artist lets it go. The observer participates in deciding the construction. In the case of her two-part sculptures, this freedom becomes even more drastic. Some sculptures can be put together in so many ways that the untrained eye does not even notice that it is always the same work. The participation of the public takes some of the ego out of the work. It is therefore partly about letting go, a principle that is also manifest in the choice of materials. Her (wall) sculptures are invariably made of blank steel that is subsequently oxidised. Some works are burnt and acquire a very lively black patina through rapid oxidation, while the rust-coloured works are created through the slow action of the surrounding oxygen.
All these elements distinguish the artist strongly from the second generation of geometric abstract artists. Environment, nature and even the observer have a direct effect on the work. The work acquires an earthly component which, in a certain sense, brings it back to Mondriaan's tree. The art of Riki Mijling integrates itself in all places where people move around and it is changeable in time. The light, the space, the observer and even the weather have as great a hand in the work as Riki Mijling herself.
Artists: Riki Mijling