Sigrid van Woudenberg, Sanne Terweij & David Engel, Chemistry; Galerie Helder, The Hague

Sigrid van Woudenberg

Chemistry at Helder Gallery is an exhibition about floating ideas, thoughts and visions.

Sigrid van Woudenberg
Sigrid van Woudenberg

It shows works by Sigrid van Woudenberg (1967), Sanne Terweij (1984) and David Engel (1973).

Sigrid van Woudenberg
Sigrid van Woudenberg

Van Woudenberg’s new drawings are surprising in that they are not the monumental works which mix different aspects of reality and thought you may be used to.

Sigrid van Woudenberg

However, they retain their depth with her mastery in using compressed charcoal combined with graphite and colour pencil.

Sanne Terweij
Sanne Terweij

In their almost three dimensional abstraction they fit in well with the works of the other two artists.

Sanne Terweij

Both Terweij’s and Engel’s works are more explicitly three dimensional in that they are more like reliefs.

Sanne Terweij
Sanne Terweij

Terweij works with coloured metal; its shiny surface constantly changes with the light and the position of the viewer.

David Engel

Engel’s mixed media works look even more floating and fragile than the works he showed two years ago at the same gallery.

David Engel
David Engel

There is a variety of works by the three artists to be enjoyed at the gallery, and especially Van Woudenberg’s drawings are small but amazing.

David Engel

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Contents of all photographs courtesy to the artists and Galerie Helder, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Lennart Lahuis, With Sighs Too Deep For Words; Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague

I went to the present show of works by Lennart Lahuis (1986) at Dürst Britt & Mayhew‘s to write a review for Villa La Repubblica. Click here to read the review (in Dutch).

As i’ve written quite extensively in VLR about the exhibition, i leave you here with some pictures without text.

Click here to read the article in VLR (in Dutch)

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Contents of all photographs courtesy to Lennart Lahuis and Dürst Britt & Mayhew, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Andrea Freckmann & Dodo Albrecht, Randstücke und Zwischenstücke; Galerie Maurits van de Laar, The Hague

Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann

Andrea Freckmann (1970) and Dodo Albrecht (1972) present their works in a homely atmosphere at Galerie Maurits van de Laar.

Dodo Albrecht
Dodo Albrecht
Dodo Albrecht

Albrecht’s ceramic works all have a character of their own, and if you see more of them they are a sometimes awkward but intriguing company.

Dodo Albrecht
Dodo Albrecht

They are vases that don’t want to identify as vases.

Dodo Albrecht
Dodo Albrecht

They are a bit like human beings who are constantly worried about their identities, while they still remain human beings after all.

Dodo Albrecht
Dodo Albrecht

They are also works that go back to the historic basics of ceramics, in which pottery was not just practical but also spiritual.

Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann
Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann

They fit in very well with Freckmann’s paintings of interiors, in which they now and then appear.

Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann
Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann

You may call them genre paintings, but that sounds much too stuffy and old-fashioned for Freckmann’s interiors which are full of wonder and magic.

Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann
Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann

Birds play an important role in these interiors, but also in smaller paintings which come as a kind of extras to the big ones.

Andrea Freckmann

Especially the blackbird seems to be a favourite of Freckmann’s, as a messenger from the outside world, with its pride, constant attentiveness and its lyrical singing.

Andrea Freckmann
Andrea Freckmann
Andrea Freckmann

Here you see the blackbirds as far as i could spot them in the show; it’s up to you to find the paintings they belong to.

Andrea Freckmann
Andrea Freckmann

Apart from blackbirds there are more birds in the paintings; i spotted song thrush, white wagtail, blue tit, nuthatch, tree creeper, robin, jay, African grey parrot, an indefinable  song bird species, a kind of gull, a decorative bird and the swallow of the famous matchbox.

Andrea Freckmann
Andrea Freckmann

They intermingle with Albrecht’s vases and with other objects, who, in spite of their different characters, become part of the fabric of both the real world and the interior world.

Andrea Freckmann

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Contents of all photographs courtesy to Dodo Albrecht, Andrea Freckmann and Galerie Maurits van de Laar, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Students of the Royal Academy (KABK), To Give A Dog A Name; Stichting Ruimtevaart, The Hague

Giovanni Pilato

Last weekend fine arts students of the Royal Academy The Hague (KABK) had an exhibition at Stichting Ruimtevaart gallery and the space next to Billytown gallery.

Juliette Hengst

They are third year students, so if all goes well they will graduate next year.

Anne Berg
Peyman Fazeli

It also means you can’t expect breathtaking masterpieces at this stage.

Peyman Fazeli

Also, generally speaking, it was clear that many students are still trying to find their way.

Romana Klementisová
Sigurdur Saevar Magnusarson

Well, that is very generally speaking indeed, as the differences are quite significant.

Sigurdur Saevar Magnusarson

By and large the quality makes one hopeful.

Zan-Zhi Kang
Zan-Zhi Kang

Sometimes you may get the feeling that some more proficiency in even a basic material as a pencil would open another world of possibilities, while other students seem to cling to their subject already so autistically that the rest of the world won’t open up for them.

Daniel Jacobsen

While as a student you have the luxury to research for four years even the most unexpected aspects of the profession and indeed of yourself.

Isa Roelink
Andrei Nitu

Thematically the big issues of the day seem to be not really prevalent.

Nompilo Sibisi

Instead the position of the self in the world emerges as the big issue.

Nompilo Sibisi
Jemima de Jonge

Maybe this is due to the corona crisis wherein students had to rely on themselves.

Byoung Sung Kwak

This doesn’t mean the exhibition was an orgy of self-centredness.

Byoung Sung Kwak
Giovanni Pilato

Rather, there was an idea of either closeness or distance towards the viewer which struck me.

Giovanni Pilato

In these pictures you see some works which i think were interesting, promising etc.

Jenny McFarland

Let’s hope the students are able to use the next thirteen months to reflect, dream and spread their wings.

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Contents of all photographs courtesy to the artists, Stichting Ruimtevaart and to Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KABK), Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Shen Wei, I Miss You Already; SinArts Gallery, The Hague

Shen Wei (1977) had his first solo exhibition at SinArts Gallery already five years ago.

In Villa La Repubblica i wrote a review about it and i think the text of it still stands, even for the present show.

It is in another room of the same building on the ground floor with a glorious view on The Hague’s sunlit Hofvijver (Court Pond) lined with lavishly green chestnut trees, that his pictures are shown now.

The photos are examples from a long running series of self portraits of Shen’s, and water, plants and of course light play a main role in them, which easily brings them into dialogue with the wonderful view from the windows of the gallery. As such the gallery almost becomes part of the whole set up.

One may call them self portraits, but they are and they are not. On the one hand the sitter just happens to be the photographer himself, on the other hand it is an image of the photographer in the world as it changes with age.

While in one picture the model is the main subject, in another he becomes a prop in a scene or a landscape, or you may see him as the symbol of something the picture may represent.

As a whole it has the melancholy of the photograph as a medium of remembrance.

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Contents of all photographs courtesy to Shen Wei and SinArts Gallery, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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Boris Lurie & Wolf Vostell, Art After Auschwitz; Kunstmuseum, The Hague

Boris Lurie

I went to the exhibition Art after Auschwitz with works by Boris Lurie (1924-2008) and Wolf Vostell (1932-1998) at Kunstmuseum The Hague, to write a review for Villa La Repubblica. Click here to read the article in VLR (in Dutch).

Boris Lurie

As i’ve written quite extensively about the exhibition i leave you here with some impressions, and the strong recommendation to experience it all yourself.

Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Wolf Vostell
Boris Lurie
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Boris Lurie
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Boris Lurie
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell

Click here to read the article in VLR (in Dutch).

Wolf Vostell

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Contents of all photographs courtesy to the owners of the works, the estates of both artists and Kunstmuseum, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters

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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!

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

Bertus Pieters

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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….

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

Bertus Pieters

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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.

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

Bertus Pieters

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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.

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

Bertus Pieters

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