Detail of the painting 'Do not go gentle into that good  night' (2018) Detail of the painting 'Do not go gentle into that good night' (2018)

Tot Zover

Kim van Norren - Do Not Go Gentle

The power of language is a main feature in Kim van Norren’s work. She paints words from popsongs, films, poetry or speeches. She isolates phrases from their original context and positions them into colorful paintings. Thematically they convey heavy topics like suffering, loss and longing, depicted in a lighthearted manner.

The doom of our transience colours our existence. “Death is not the worst thing”, says Van Norren. “The worst thing is that we are wedged between our concept of mortality and our notion of infinity. How can we resolve that?”

Van Norren likes dilemmas. Especially concerning ethics and morality. According to her, a painting eminently provides a space free of interest. “It is in that space that we may re-invent and discover the true meaning of words and events that influence our lives.” She appreciates the multiple and subjective interpretations of art.

Do Not Go Gentle

A recent series of paintings by Kim Van Norren is inspired by the classic poem Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). Thomas wrote the poem in 1951 for his dying father. In it he desperately begs his father not to submit to death passively. Kim van Norren was touched by the rawness of the poem which has - partly due to a recital by the poet himself - become a well loved fixture in Western culture. In the painted canvases she explores new possible interpretations of the familiar text.

For an artist like Van Norren, Thomas’ poetry is a rich source.  The rhythmic imagery and visual allusions are ideal to her distinct style. The night as a metaphor for death, ‘close of day’ and ‘dying of the light’ etc. might first seem cliché but in the poem they are compassionate and profound. The message reverberates in a complex mixture of tone, colour and graphic silhouettes.


This exhibit also features several audio recordings of Do not go gentle into that good night.  Each performance conveys a different interpretation. In the exhibition space the eerily lighthearted version by John Cale with children’s choir (1989) is played along with the ominous recital from the film Interstellar (2014). The original recital by Dylan Thomas can be heard using the audio tour. That recording dates from February 1952, one year prior to his own death.

The exhibit in the Large Hall displays the new series 'Do not go gentle' along with a selection of 30 other works, which are inspired by songtexts by e.g. David Bowie, Beyoncé and Leonard Cohen. The exhibit is on show 1 nov 2018 - 27 jan 2019.

Thanks to Mondrian Fund, courtesy Cokkie Snoei.

About the artist

Kim van Norren (Soest, 1980) studied at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Kampen and De Ateliers in Amsterdam. She won the Koninklijke Prijs voor de Vrije Schilderkunst in 2010, in 2011 De Scheffer and in 2014 de Sieger White Award. Her artwork featured in many groupshows and she had solo exhibitions in Museum de Fundatie and Dordrechts Museum. Van Norrens work is acquired by e.g. Museum Voorlinden, the Ekard Collection and the AKZO Nobel Art Foundation.