Photography: Lindsay Hamlyn
Artist: Tronje Thole van Ellen



“The mouth is so full that one can no longer swallow”


…this is how the Hamburg-based artist Tronje Thole van Ellen described the ‘now’ before the pandemic. The feeling of being able to do everything, and therefore having to do everything, grew into an overwhelming ulcer of possibilities, which now meets upon a virus.



This was the name of the exhibition in the Barlach Halle K in Hamburg – until it was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic. A wave that seems to overwhelm the whole world with the same questions also paints a time border in the paintings of van Ellen. Like a confused review of who we were, the works confront us as contemporary witnesses, and perhaps contribute to formulating who we want to be. A new context needed a new name, and thus “TOO MUCH FUTURE” became…



Clear, and without fear of banalities, van Ellen shows us his way from scrap paper art to paintings.

Direct images of van Ellen’s perception of our society, in front of and within Corona, meet in his works on dark backgrounds as flesh-coloured non-narrations of living beings.

Clear figures appear repeatedly in between this, some of which brings with them the defiant bluntness of everyday life we know only too well.

Like impressive, fleeting observations, objects and themes constantly appear and disappear again. On top of this, loose strokes are dancing, childlike and freely guided, leading nowhere. Spaces that add up only from the unconstructed events. A single poetic jumble of current socio-critical themes angrily, almost melodramatically, creates the most honest chaos possible. It’s the chaos of before and during the pandemic. As a counterbalance to all the abundance and almost painful distraction, the colour white is used again and again. At most, it expresses a quiet desire for clarity, but there is no answer. The artist himself searches exclusively for the most honest starting point. So vehemently that brushes often have to give way to his hands, or that the left, untrained hand takes the lead.





Van Ellen’s status quos string themselves together without resolution. The canvases become invitations to freely take hold of the loose ends of our society and make of them what we want. They create a dialogue to explore how much meaning lies in the fullness of our chaos. A dialogue that now seems more important than ever before.



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