phantom limb art beyond escher

‘I could not resist fooling around with our established certainties.’ This statement by the famous graphic artist M.C. Escher is the starting point for the exhibition Phantom Limb: Art beyond Escher. In this exhibition, ten contemporary artists from the Netherlands and abroad present an alternative reality. Their works play with contrast, light, order, perspective, infinity and spatiality to create seemingly impossible worlds that provoke alienating physical experiences. The exhibition will run from 26 January 2018 to 6 January 2019 at the Museum of Friesland in Leeuwarden and is part of Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018.

Phantom Limb: Art beyond Escher shows 25 works by which renowned artists and up-and-coming talent challenge our reality. From the disorienting work of Thomas Huber (Switzerland, 1955) and the modern trompe l’oeil paintings by Lieven Hendriks (The Netherlands, 1970) to the immersive installation of Matthijs Munnik (The Netherlands, 1989). In his installation Luminal, this young artist plays with depth and colour. Without perspective what remains is an infinite, colour-rich void.

the possibility of an island

With a phantom limb, or phantom pain, the brain registers a feeling or sensation of pain that is not there. This forms the basis of the work of Oscar Santillan (Ecuador, 1980). He has given shape to an island that does not exist. Bermeja, in the Gulf of Mexico, was marked on maps for years, but suddenly disappeared when Mexico and the United States decided to delineate their territorial waters. Santillan travelled to the exact coordinates of the vanished island and collected hundreds of litres of seawater from which he distilled salt that coagulated and for him represents the lost island. The island now exists by the grace of Santillan's work.

fact or fiction

Patrick Corillon (Belgium, 1959) allows the visitor to walk in the footsteps of his fictional muse Oskar Serti. The viewer slowly takes over Serti’s role. In this way, the threshold between reality and fiction is crossed and the viewer suddenly becomes the main protagonist in the story. Saskia Olde Wolbers (The Netherlands, 1971) uses video to create her imaginary worlds. Spaces reminiscent of eerie movie sets that seem to be immersed in unearthly liquids are the backdrop for peculiar events.


Photographers can also give reality an unexpected twist. Marc Philip van Kempen (The Netherlands, 1979) documents his own chaotic decors. At first glance, the images seem to be edited. However, it is not the photographs but the objects that have been manipulated. A party that has run amok is the setting for the hall-filling work by Dominique Teufen (Switzerland, 1975). She has stripped the entire space of all its colour, leaving a frightening black-and-white world.

Funda Gül Özcan, FUNFAIRAFFAIR , 2017


Funda Gül Özcan (Germany, 1984) is currently winning high praise with her goggle-boxes in which she combines traditional tricks with contemporary projections and illusions. Her most recent dioramas – a visual cacophony centred on a fictional fair, complete with music  – are exhibited in Phantom Limb: Art beyond Escher. The illusions continue outside the museum rooms thanks to Michiel Kluiters (The Netherlands, NL, 1971), who has created halls, vistas and stairwells in the museum that are not there especially for this exhibition.

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aftermovie opening

The exhibition Phantom Limb is part of Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018 and is made possible with the support of the Province of Friesland, the Municipality of Leeuwarden and the Mondriaan Fund. The Mondriaan Fund contributed to the artist's fees by means of the experimental regulations.