Spectral Spectrum draws unconventional connections

A special exhibition by ABN AMRO Art Prize winner Melvin Moti from 26 November to 6 March 2016 in the Hermitage Amsterdam

The exhibition Spectral Spectrum by the artist Melvin Moti will be on display from 26 November 2015 to 6 March 2016 in the Hermitage Amsterdam. Moti (b. 1977, Rotterdam) won the fifth edition of the ABN AMRO Art Prize for talented artists in the Netherlands, and was given a year to develop the exhibition. The result is a unique combination that draws unconventional connections between work by Jan Schoonhoven, Steven Aalders, Lidwien van de Ven, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Julius Henricus Quinkhardt, Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold and Moti’s own works: Miamalism (2008), A Century of Light (2010) and his new series Secret Seals (2015). Moti’s art is, above all, a visual delight, but it also evokes the theme of finding one’s way in the dark – which involves making assumptions and using the imagination. Moti suggests that looking is not a passive state, but a conscious and active mode of thought. His art demonstrates the huge gap between looking and understanding, and between sight and insight. It is a space of and for the eye, of and for the mind, in which perception and reason are constantly challenged. This exhibition can be viewed as a single, autonomous gesture, as one cohesive installation.

Jan Schoonhoven, Reliëf R72-43, 1972, papier-maché, card and masonry paint, 106 x 106 cm. ABN AMRO collection
Johann Christian Erxleben, Buddhadienst, illustration from Ph.Fr. von Siebold, Archiv zur Beschreibung von Japan, 1832, coloured lithograph, 59 x 40 cm. ABN AMRO collection

In the exhibition Spectral Spectrum, Moti explores ideas about perception, time, space and consciousness. The starting point for the exhibition was Moti’s fascination with the artist JCJ Vanderheyden, who died in 2012. This artist, known in part for his paintings of airplane windows, is believed to have stopped painting almost entirely in 1964. He then started exploring film, computer graphics and electroacoustics, as well as performing experiments related to consciousness. Moti has always been fascinated by these enigmatic experiments, as well as by the myths which have developed around his predecessor’s work. This subject relates to the present-day interest in consciousness, which has become a popular research area in the arts and sciences. Practices formerly seen as exotic, such as the Eastern disciplines of yoga and meditation, have now entered mainstream life and even the business world. Moti’s exhibition is based on two documents from the private archives of JCJ Vanderheyden. He has combined the ideas of JCJ Vanderheyden with both his own work and work from the ABN AMRO collection in a unique way. Moti shows that the early, enigmatic work of JCJ Vanderheyden tackled subjects that are universal, contemporary and relevant. This offers a new perspective on present-day issues.

In selecting Melvin Moti, the jury for the ABN AMRO Art Award chose a remarkable artist of singular vision, who tackles themes touching on the very core of our existence with the utmost concentration. Major themes in Moti’s work include time, history, memory, mental experiments and phenomena that fall outside the framework of human perception. The complete jury report for the 2015 ABN AMRO Art Award can be found here: Jury report 2015 ABN AMRO Art Award.

Melvin Moti

Melvin Moti (b. 1977, Rotterdam) studied visual art at the Academie voor Beeldende Vorming in Tilburg and continued his education at De Ateliers in Amsterdam (1999–2001). His recent solo exhibitions include The Vision Machine (EMPAC, Troy, N.Y.), MAM Project 021 (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo), One Thousand Points of Light (National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh), Eigengrau (Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg), The Art of Orientation (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart) and From Dust to Dust (Wiels, Brussels).

ABN AMRO Art Award

The ABN AMRO Art Award for visual artists, originally granted to artists who came from abroad to live or work in the Netherlands, was awarded to Fahrettin Örenli in 2004, Eylem Aladogan in 2005, Ryan Gander in 2006 and Melissa Gordon in 2007. The prize was relaunched in 2015 as a means of encouraging talented young Dutch and international artists in the Netherlands. The winner receives an exhibition in the Hermitage Amsterdam with an accompanying catalogue and a monetary award of 10,000 euros. His work is also purchased for the ABN AMRO art collection.

Jury report ABN AMRO Art Award

Members of the jury for the 2015 ABN AMRO Art Award: Maria Barnas (writer, poet and artist), Lorenzo Benedetti (curator and director of De Appel arts centre Amsterdam), Lex ter Braak (director of the Jan van Eyck Academy Maastricht), Danila Cahen (curator of the ABN AMRO Art collection), and Bart Rutten (head of collections, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam).

ABN AMRO: Partner of the Future

Since 2004, ABN AMRO has been the main sponsor of the Hermitage Amsterdam. The bank is proud of this long-term partnership, which is aimed at making art and culture more accessible to a broad public. The ABN AMRO Art Prize 2015 is part of the programme ABN AMRO: Partner of the Future, in which the bank invests in talented individuals who are working towards new achievements in sports, enterprise, education or culture and the arts. The bank hopes that the Art Prize will give talented visual artists the opportunity to move forward with their work and reach a wider audience.

Hermitage Amsterdam

Cathelijne Broers, director of the Hermitage Amsterdam, comments, ‘We are delighted to host the ABN AMRO Art Prize, which brings modern art exhibitions into our building. The winner, Melvin Moti, is an exceptionally talented artist who does magnificent work. This exhibition reinforces our partnership with ABN AMRO.’


Spectral Spectrum will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with a foreword by Joop Wijn (member of the ABN AMRO Managing Board) and an introduction by Maria Barnas and Danila Cahen. The catalogue was designed by Irma Boom Office, Amsterdam. (Dutch/English, 84 pages, 12 illustrations, € 15, ISBN 978-90-816713-2-3)

Art Prize Exhibition at the ABN AMRO Head Office

At the same time as the exhibition in the Hermitage Amsterdam, Moti will present a second exhibition in the main hall of the ABN AMRO head office in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district. There he will exhibit work never shown to the public before in the Netherlands, from his series Cluster Illusion (2012). The bank has purchased part of this series as part of the ABN AMRO Art Prize. See abnamro.com/en/.

Melvin Moti, Miamalism, 2008, front cover of Life magazine, 40 x 50 cm
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Mary Barnardiston, 1750, oil on canvas, 73 × 62 cm. Owned by Melvin Moti. Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on 27 April (Kingsday)
Open on Christmas Day (25-12) &
1 January 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Roy Beusker Fotografie

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

More information online ticketing:
+31 (0)20 530 87 55


Hermitage Amsterdam would like to thank:

Main sponsors
Exhibition sponsor
Media partner
Internet partner