Winter-Rundgang 2016 , Leipzig International Art Program, studio Rombout Oomen

Renaissance of WonderRenaissance of Wonder, oil on linen, 390x550 cm (5 canvasses), Leipzig, 2016, Rombout Oomen



Jürgen Keil, Leipzig, January 16th, 2016

During the annual winter tour in the Spinnerei, Leipzig BRD, today I witnessed an art encounter of a special kind.

In the exhibition of the LIA (Leipzig International Art Programme), we stood before the 5.5 x 3.9-metre painting by Dutch painter Rombout Oomen, titled "Renaissance of Wonder". A group of about 25 foreign-looking young men, dressed like German, accompanied by two German women of about 30 years, came somewhat uncertain in the space of LIA. You could see that it was their first visit to the Spinnerei. Some of the group stood in front of the painting "Renaissance of Wonder" and let themselves be photographed by others.

Winter-Rundgang 2016 , Leipzig International Art program  

On the opposite wall, a group of these young people stood before the painting "the Slumberland manifesto No. IV: the celebration of Marat". Initially I somewhat carelessly passed this painting as I had already seen the dancing skeletons and Marat in the bathtub and thought to have understood what the painting is about, probably a kind of dance of death of the French Revolution. Too obvious, I thought.

My interpretation was not correct. One of the young immigrants pointed to the Arabic characters above the dancing skeletons and Marat in the bathtub and asked the artist Rombout Oomen: do you know what it means?

He was well prepared for this question, pulled out a text written in Dutch and began to explain to those around him that the characters in his painting describe twelve Suras of the Koran; top left:  thunder, light, the parties; left:  the hypocrites, humanity, fate; top right: freedom, repentance and next the twelfth: Ghafir (Arabic), forgiveness (Dutch:  Hij die vergeeft , German: Vergebung) is not visible in his painting; at het bottom from middle to right are: reality, comfort and the red of dawn. 

The mosque represented in this painting, was a mosque in Syria, says the artist. And he asks the young man with the winter hat: where are you from? Answer (quiet): Syria. Rombout Oomen explains that "Ghafir",  forgiveness is hidden in his image, and that the ground on which the skeletons dance is inspired by Vermeer van Delft.

About the figure of Marat in the bathtub, there were several comments of the bystanders mainly for the Syrian group: Marat was a writer during the French Revolution, who had executed his political opponents en masse, the skeletons dance to the music of the revolution. The French painter Jacques-Louis David painted the picture of Marat in the bathtub, it was never purchased by the French government and is still a showpiece of the State Museum in Brussels.


The Slumberland Manifesto IV: The celebration of Marat

Western stories and iconography and Eastern, Islamic culture meet each other in this painting by Rombout Oomen. The painting could also have been called: dance of death of Syrian or Arab revolution. Hereby I would like to thank the artist  for this special meeting and especially the two women, who have led the group of Syrian refugees to the winter tour in the Spinnerei. I'm trying to find out what is written in the 40th Sura of the Qur'an, called Ghafir in Arabic. Why is this script not visible in the painting by Rombout Oomen?