Studio visit: Matthias Grothus

The other day i paid a visit to Matthias Grothus to write an article for Villa La Repubblica about his newest work The Last Unicorn. Click here to read the article (in Dutch).

I saw a video of the work on Facebook and was intrigued by it, so i contacted him and saw the work the next day in his (temporary) studio.

Grothus usually makes works that are moving either mechanically or by simply plugging in a power cord.

As such they often look both intriguing and understandable.

Although it has been fashionable last few decades for works of art to be ‘disturbing’, Grothus’ moving objects are in a sense comforting.

They show what the human mind is capable of without the use of obscuring digital techniques and they challenge the viewer to use his own imagination.

He stresses the need to care for human imagination and to respect the material and its potential we use.

As such mind and material are very much interlinked in his works.

He showed me his new work The Last Unicorn and we were busy making pictures and videos of it while chatting about the joys and pitfalls of art.

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Matthias Grothus.

Bertus Pieters

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Façades of The Hague #75

Koningin Julianaplein is the square in front of Centraal Station (Central Station).

The station (click here to see more of it) seems to be one of the most hated architectural sites in The Hague.

Once designed as a proud, modern landmark, with its sculpturally ribbed façade, to be seen from far, Central Station will be obscured by a postmodern, sprawling apartment block to be finished by 2021.

As such the square has been a mass for some years now.

These pictures show you the square being prepared for building and reconstruction in 2017.

At the moment the building seems to have begun as you can see in the last picture.

© Villa Next Door 2018

All pictures were taken in March 2017; last picture taken in October 2018

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague from #72 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/

LE SUD; Twelve twelve gallery, The Hague

Johan De Wit

The Dutch and the Flemish share a common language, but the histories of the areas they live in are quite different.

Johan De Wit
Gert Scheerlinck
Johan Gelper

Their minds are shaped differently by cultural, political and economic developments, by different landscapes and by different geographical contexts.

Gert Scheerlinck
Rein Dufait

For the Dutch it seems easy to understand the Flemish, but there also seems to be something ununderstandable in the Flemish way of thinking or in the Flemish human condition.

Rein Dufait
Gert Scheerlinck
Gert Scheerlinck

The same can be said about Flemish art.

Gert Scheerlinck
Gert Scheerlinck

The Dutch usually have admiration for the sincerity, lyricism and spirituality in Flemish art, aspects that don’t immediately spring to mind when thinking about Dutch art.

Nicolás Lamas
Nicolás Lamas
Johan De Wit

In an earlier exhibition at Twelve twelve gallery Gert Scheerlinck already showed his very personal ways of seeing.

Johan De Wit
Gert Scheerlinck

He addresses his audience in an almost private way, inviting you to come very near and to challenge your imagination.

Gert Scheerlinck
Johan Gelper
Johan Gelper

There is a sense of absurdism in his works but they don’t deceive you, they are as honest as their simple materials.

Nicolás Lamas
Nicolás Lamas

For the present exhibition Scheerlinck was invited to put together a presentation of works by himself and by Flemish artists of his own choice.

Johan De Wit
Katleen Vinck
Katleen Vinck

This resulted in a small but wonderful show with mostly lyrical works by, apart from Scheerlinck himself, Nicolás Lamas, Johan De Wit, Rein Dufait, Katleen Vinck and Johan Gelper.

Katleen Vinck
Katleen Vinck
Katleen Vinck

On one hand one would wish to see solo presentations of each, on the other hand this group show is a very well composed treasure-trove, circling around Vinck’s robust and marvellous Plano and even going underground in the dark of the gallery’s cellar.

Katleen Vinck

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to all artists and to Twelve twelve gallery, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

See what you know; Quartair, The Hague

Ilona Plaum

In the present exhibition at Quartair, painting is identified with space, knowledge, the act of painting and the self.

Ilona Plaum
Wieteke Heldens
Wieteke Heldens
Robbin Heyker
Nies Vooijs

In fact this would apply to any discipline in visual and other arts, but of course painting is one of the basic and most traditional of the visual arts.

Pietertje van Splunter
Pietertje van Splunter
left to right: Wieteke Heldens, Pietertje van Splunter
Robbin Heyker
Ilona Plaum
Ilona Plaum

That doesn’t mean that all works on show are paintings in a sense that they are pieces of canvas or panels with pasty pigments on them.

Jeroen Hofhuizen
Jeroen Hofhuizen
Raymond Cuijpers
Raymond Cuijpers
Raymond Cuijpers

For instance André Kruysen’s works are sculptures and Delphine Courtillot makes ceramics.

Raymond Cuijpers
left to right: Nies Vooijs, Ilona Plaum, André Kruysen
Nies Vooijs
Nies Vooijs
Nies Vooijs
Nies Vooijs

Even Ilona Plaum’s painting-like works are in fact prints and in one of her works Wieteke Heldens doesn’t use paint but a marker.

front to back: Nies Vooijs, André Kruysen, Robbin Heyker
left to right: Wietke Heldens, André Kruysen, Robbin Heyker
left to right: Robbin Heyker, André Kruysen
André Kruysen
André Kruysen

Indeed the way paint is used by the other artists is very personal and is very well presented in this spacious exhibition.

left to right: Pietertje van Splunter, André Kruysen, Robbin Heyker
left to right: André Kruysen, Wieteke Heldens
front to back: André Kruysen, Nies Vooijs
André Kruysen
front to back: André Kruysen, Delphine Courtillot, Raymond Cuijpers
front to back: Delphine Courtillot, Raymond Cuijpers

Quartair, with its columns, is not always an easy space to create effective exhibitions but this one makes very good use of all sightlines and there is a very good dialogue between sculpture and painting, or rather between the spacial and the flat.

front to back: Delphine Courtillot, Raymond Cuijpers
left to right: Raymond Cuijpers, Delphine Courtillot, Nies Vooijs
Delphine Courtillot
Delphine Courtillot
left to right: Ilona Plaum, Delphine Courtillot

As for its composition, arrangement, variety and quality this is certainly one of the best exhibitions in Quartair.

left to right: Pietertje van Splunter, Delphine Courtillot, Robbin Heyker

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to all artists and Quartair, den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Maja Daniels, Elf Dalia; LhGWR, The Hague

In LhGWR Swedish photographer Maja Daniels presently shows the more or less spiritual aspects of life in Älvdalen, an area in the Swedish Dalarna region.

She mixes her own pictures (the colour pictures) with photographs by Tenn Lars Persson (1878-1939; black and white photography) who was an avid vernacular local photographer in Älvdalen who also knew about magic and sorcery.

Daniels presents Älvdalen as a quaint place with a touch of mystery.

Her story is interesting against a background of globalisation and the local histories in Europe.

Although Daniels’ presentation is interesting and atmospheric, i missed proportionally more photographs of her own on show; as it now very much looks like an ethnographical exhibition with Persson as the central voice and photographer.

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Maja Daniels and the estate of Tenn Lars Persson and to LhGWR, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague #74

A dyke against traffic noise, Escamplaan.

To live comfortably in a congested area along a main traffic artery, different kinds of protection against noise may be necessary.

In this case a middle class suburb is protected and it also serves as an alternative place to walk the dog (what else?).

© Villa Next Door 2018

All pictures were taken in March 2017

Bertus Pieters

 

Façades of The Hague from #72 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/

Sydney Rahimtoola, I Forgot how to Speak Spanish; LhGWR, The Hague

Sydney Rahimtoola graduated this year from the KABK (Royal Academy) and her graduation work is now presented at LhGWR.

In the film you meet La Babosa (cry baby), a second generation Dominican-American in Queens, New York.

The film is an intriguing collection of aspects of living in modern day America but descending from a Caribbean culture with its strong traditions and mysticism which balances La Babosa’s life on a tight rope of realism, surrealism, stereotyping, deep meaning and colourful kitsch.

Rahimtoola has made an installation of the film presentation, but i doubt if that really works.

The film itself takes so much attention that the rest of the installation seems to be obsolete.

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Sydney Rahimtoola and LhGWR, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Milou Abel: Christian, Eelke, Amelie, Marleen, Willy, Jozef, Misty, Thomas, Thijmen en Els; LhGWR, The Hague

LhGWR presently has four shows, three of which i will show some pictures of; separately, as they are very different exhibitions.

To start with, here are some pictures of the photo installation by Milou Abel (1990) in the gallery’s basement.

She portrays people of the margins of society, empathetically, even warmheartedly.

She shows their daily struggles and daily joys.

There is no tearjerking, no social expressionism or social realism, there are just characters.

The way she presents them, photo portraits combined with objects from real life, Abel succeeds in creating real characters.

Although stereotyping is always a danger in this kind of photography, it is clear Abel is trying to avoid that.

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Milou Abel and LhGWR, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Jacqueline de Jong and Wieske Wester, Fish and Chips; Dürst Britt and Mayhew, The Hague

Jacqueline de Jong

Two very painterly painters of very different generations, Jacqueline de Jong (1939) and Wieske Wester (1985), presently share an exhibition at Dürst Britt and Mayhew.

Jacqueline de Jong
Wieske Wester

The title of the show not just indicates the organic inspiration of some of the paintings, but also seems to stress the rich and ‘greasy’ manner of working.

Jacqueline de Jong
Jacqueline de Jong

To be honest i have a weak spot for Wester’s way of drawing which reminds me of a style i used myself in the 1980s.

Jacqueline de Jong
Wieske Wester

Though this personal history detail may not (and even should not) interest you at all, it does tell you something about the very subjective views your critic may have.

Wieske Wester
Jacqueline de Jong
Jacqueline de Jong

On the other hand, look at the wonderful handwriting of both painters in their works and see how both show their own and very personal command of what they are creating.

Jacqueline de Jong
Wieske Wester

De Jong actively tried to bring power to imagination in all kinds of ways during her long artistic career.

Wieske Wester
Wieske Wester

She still does so in works in which imagination may grab you by the throat.

Wieske Wester
Wieske Wester

Wester shows how organic forms turn into paint or charcoal and may at the same time transform into other organic forms.

Wieske Wester, Jacqueline de Jong

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photograph courtesy to Jacqueline de Jong, Wieske Wester and Dürst Britt and Mayhew, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague #73

 

The façade of Museum Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures by the Sea museum)  is one of the most remarkable in The Hague for such a significant building, in that it hardly exists.

Built in a dune and under a 19th century neo-classicist pavilion it only has a modernist but unassuming entrance (in Harteveltstraat) and a concrete perimeter.

It was built in 1992-94 and designed by Wim Quist (1930) for the Scholten sculpture collection.

Its real architectural value is very much in the inside and it is one the best museum buildings for sculpture imaginable.

Also for its interesting exhibitions it deserves far more prestige than it presently has.

 

Nevertheless its outside is also interesting in that it doesn’t want to be obtrusive.

It has about the same colour as the sand and it also looks like a kind of protection of the small dune area with the old pavilion on top.

In the southwest corner of the museum area sits a sculpture by Igor Mitoraj (1944-2014)

Seen from the beach the museum is hardly visible.

© Villa Next Door 2018

All pictures were taken in March 2017

Bertus Pieters

 

Façades of The Hague from #72 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/