Janek Simon, Meta Folklore; 1646, The Hague

“This exhibition is a starting point for a project that I will definitely develop further, so I also want to suggest that ‘open endedness’ a bit.”

Janek Simon in Janek Simon in conversation with Florian Weigl, last page of the accompanying booklet of the show

With these words Janek Simon (1977) ends an e-mail conversation with curator and researcher Florian Weigl.

Simon is nailing it, really, as, in spite of all care, dedication, time and labour that clearly went into the exhibits, Meta Folklore – presently at 1646 – looks like a finger exercise, like a work in progress.

That is not meant to be negative.

It is meant to indicate that, when visiting this exhibition, you are sharing with Simon a certain stage in his work and thinking.

In the end, this is one of the best things one could long for as an artist, i think.

Simon, in the face of a society that has got off course (and more so as we speak), has taken modern technology into his own hands.

He won’t be dictated by what commercial companies and society want you to do with modern technology, he’d rather build his own stuff.

In Meta Folklore he shows you his handicrafts.

As a base he used pictures of sculptures labelled “folk” and “traditional” he collected from the internet.

They come from many parts of the world, and he used computer learning technology to integrate all these different pictures, to let them evolve into each other in their full three-dimensionality.

In the back space of the gallery you can see some 3D printed results (of course Simon printed them himself).

In the front space you’ll see video loops with integrating and disintegrating sculptures.

The whole ensemble is – as i see it – open to any interpretation, bearing in mind that the terms “folk art” or “traditional art” or even “folklore” are problematic in themselves.

In the video loops there is an almost endless variety of integrating and disintegrating sculptures, and as such of integrating and disintegrating different cultures.

This is as much a finger exercise for the artist (albeit an extremely comprehensive one), as it is for the viewer.

But, of course, i expect you to experience that for yourself!

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

(Right click to enlarge pictures)

(All links open in new tabs)

© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Janek Simon and 1646, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

VILLA NEXT DOOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVERTISING ON THIS PAGE!!

Advertisement

Joncquil, MID – LIFE – CAREER – QUESTE; Galerie Ramakers, The Hague

It has been said before in these columns: absurdism north of the Belgo-Dutch border leads a secluded existence.

Though it might be misunderstood here, it is nevertheless omnipresent.

Joncquil (1973) is one of the few Dutch artists who knows that the absurd has to be tackled on its own terms.

However, to label Joncquil an absurdist artist would typically be the fatal verdict of an art historian who pigeonholes a whole oeuvre with one word.

After all: “The best things of the past will be the worst things of the future”, to quote the title of a Joncquil painting that sais nothing but HA HA HA HA.

And there it is again: the absurd.

You try to classify the work of an artist and it laughs at you.

You might praise the work of an artist, but all your efforts to do so may seem useless, or even wrong and abject in future.

To show a work with such a title and with such a content is distinctive for Joncquil’s modest midlife career exhibition, presently at Galerie Ramakers.

As such it is not just midlife absurdism, because there is more in the painting.

There are the sinewy handwritten capitals HA HA etc. and there is the faint but shiny yellow background that seems to have a life of its own.

To call Joncquil an absurdist would deny his specific interest in light and colour, especially where colour shines or faintly glimmers and loses its shape; where colour becomes space.

It would deny his interest in modernist furniture that suddenly gains meaning when used as a character.

Indeed, the absurd is always round the corner, and it can’t be denied that Joncquil gives the absurd world a taste of its own medicine, but there is more than that.

Or there is nothing….

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

(Right click to enlarge pictures)

(All links open in new tabs)

© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Joncquil and Galerie Ramakers, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

VILLA NEXT DOOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVERTISING ON THIS PAGE!!

Jan Wattjes, Form and Content; Livingstone Gallery, The Hague

As i said before The Hague seems to be a good breeding ground for non-provincial artists.

It is just that the city and its people don’t seem to know.

The Hague is like an alchemist trying to make gold while not aware of (or not even interested in) all the silver it is creating in the mean time.

Take for instance an artist like Jan Wattjes (1981).

His artistic development is one that seems to grow horizontally like an oil stain, carefully balancing in between representation and abstraction, between emptiness and fullness, between melancholia and humour, between romanticism and realism.

He doesn’t seem to reach for the best possible painting, knowing too well that is in vain anyway, and also knowing that his works have their own form and content that need no more improvement, because they are what they are.

Indeed his works are a bit bluesy, but without repeating the same rhythm endlessly.

Presently some of his recent works are on show at Livingstone Gallery.

It is quite a wonderful collection of paintings, but it also makes one long for a bigger retrospective in a bigger space where one can see a more full extension of the oil stain Wattjes has been creating for the last fourteen years or so, including his drawings.

As there may still be no plans to organise something like that, you can always dream about it while visiting the present exhibition.

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

(Right click to enlarge pictures)

(All links open in new tabs)

© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Jan Wattjes and Livingstone Gallery, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

VILLA NEXT DOOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVERTISING ON THIS PAGE!!

Façades of The Hague #146

Temporary car park, Leyweg corner Florence Nightingaleweg. The car park (pictures of which were taken in 2020) has now been cleared for building activities (see last picture, taken recently).

This posting refers back to the first posting of the series Façades of The Hague back in 2016. Click here to see it.

This used to be my first place of residence in The Hague. Well, of course in a way it still is, but the building itself where i lived was broken down mid last decade. It was the eye hospital, a rather elegant building designed by Sjoerd Schamhart (1919-2007).

As a Royal Academy student i rented a room there in the nurse’s house, which was quite cheap and comfortable. I lived there for some five years until i got a studio at Stille Veerkade in the city centre.

© Villa Next Door 2022

All pictures were taken in March 2020 except for the last one, which was taken in April 2022.

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #146 onwards: https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #1 – 71: https://villanextdoor.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

Façades of The Hague #72 – 145:

https://villanextdoor2.wordpress.com/category/facades-of-the-hague/

VILLA NEXT DOOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVERTISING ON THIS PAGE!

Theo Jansen, Strandbeests, The New Generation; Kunstmuseum, The Hague

To quote myself from some lines i wrote about a Theo Jansen (1948) exhibition at Heden in The Hague in 2016 : “Why should culturally interested tourists in The Hague flock to M.C. Escher while there is a Strandbeest by Theo Jansen currently on show at Heden gallery?”

The same could be said – and with even more conviction – about the present Theo Jansen show at the Kunstmuseum, The Hague.

A short history of Jansen’s Strandbeest phenomenon is given inside the museum.

Visitors are even invited to pull and push the creatures a bit. In videos projected on the walls you can see how they were developed by Jansen into monsters who only need flat space and wind to move by themselves.

They are made mainly of pvc tubes and they need neither food and drink nor psychological encouragement to move.

Jansen is certainly one of the most remarkable artists in The Hague and one of the most non-provincial ones (The Hague seems to be a good breeding ground for non-provincial artists anyway).

His so-called Strandbeests (“Beach Beasts”) have walked the sands of quite a few places in the world already.

And now they are on show in the Kunstmuseum at last.

One beast is more or less permanently on show in the museum’s courtyard, four are on show in the museum’s project room, one is hanging in the entrance hall and ten are on display outside along the museum’s pond for all passers-by to be admired.

Jansen’s works may at first seem to be the follies of a dazed and drunk technician, but they also contain the idea of the sublime, to make something awe-inspiring and never seen before, of second rate materials, something that generates sympathy, respect as well as joy in the viewer, and the feeling of being part of this great imagination.

As such Jansen’s Strandbeests are even more basic than religion.

Now that you’ve come here, you might as well (re)subscribe to Villa Next Door (top right of the page)!

(Right click to enlarge pictures)

(All links open in new tabs)

© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Theo Jansen and Kunstmuseum, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

VILLA NEXT DOOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVERTISING ON THIS PAGE!!