Art in corona times 84. Toscania, Tosca Niterink; HOK Gallery, The Hague

Happily after the worst corona periods and lock-downs HOK Gallery has found a new place at Westeinde for its activities.

Compared to its last stamp sized spot this is a royal palace.

It is now situated in a street full of artistic activities.

It can even support a relaxing seating area and enough space for its expanding collection of booklets, some of which are real collectors’ items.

At the moment HOK shows works by Tosca Niterink (1960).

To a Dutch audience born in the 1970s (or even earlier or later) she is a legendary alternative TV-star of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Recently she started painting, and bearing in mind she is a beginner it is not a bad start, her subjects being mostly other famous or infamous TV-stars.

The finissage will be next Friday night (during Hoogtij) with a fashion show.

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© Villa Next Door 2021

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Tosca Niterink and HOK-Gallery, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 53. Topp & Dubio, Unstable Matter Situations: If I Said You Had A Beautiful Theory, Would You Hold It Against Me?; HOK Gallery, The Hague

In HOK Gallery’s last exhibition in its eleven square meters space, it has left the floor to Topp & Dubio.

They present their installation If I Said You Had A Beautiful Theory, Would You Hold It Against Me?

For that i’d say you shouldn’t treat them like the devil, as the installation may well sum up the problems of this year, or of the last decade or last few centuries if you wish, or it may solve them, or they aren’t problems at all.

The duo have built, scattered, hanged, exposed, hidden and changed the lot into an absurdist display of problems and would-be problems, or rather, visual facts and visual non-facts.

Focusing on the details the objects may suddenly look quite innocent, but then you never know.

The devil is always in the detail.

Although the whole installation may seem chaotic at first sight, there is a certain logic in it; in certain objects, in the course of moving through the gallery, in the combination of objects, and here and there it also looks a bit like an artistic autobiography of the duo.

Some objects have a metaphoric meaning, but even if you are not aware of that, they’ll make you give them a meaning.

The object of the opening, outside the gallery (still missing), even caused a stir in the neighbourhood, with the police and the bomb detonation unit assisting in an unstable matter situation.

The unforeseen situation became a metaphor itself, although the police wouldn’t like to see it that way.

But that is how the absurd works.

Topp & Dubio also made a radio program for local underground broadcaster Radio Tonka last Sunday night in which they presented the Top 2000 of problems (in Dutch).

Quite a relief from the traditional Dutch Top 2000 of top-hits.

The installation will still be on show over the next weekend.

In the mean time i’ve felt free to take details photographically out of their context.

As I couldn’t make a proper choice i’ve published most pics i made in this posting.

So if you can’t make any sense of them do visit the show, as far as you are able to enter the gallery under the present unstable circumstances.

Maybe you can ask what you really want to know.

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© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Topp & Dubio and HOK Gallery, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 47. Rik Buter, Pennant around the horn; HOK Gallery, The Hague

Many artists whose works are allegedly based on “old techniques” suffer from a lack of inventiveness, or – worse – from a lack of talent.

That is explicitly not the case with Rik Buter who is a master draughtsman and graphic artist.

His search for invention seems to be compressed into the tiny alter ego of Albi, that Hyperborean little yellow hero, who is confronted with all kinds of strange situations (well, what is “strange.” looking at today’s world anyway?), gets involved in them, but never loses his inquisitiveness.

Buter combines the world of classical animated movies with a deep affinity with Renaissance and Baroque graphic techniques.

Lines and chiaroscuro manipulate Albi’s world and adventures.

At the moment he presents his works at HOK, The Hague’s smallest gallery.

In less than 119 square feet Buter presents Albi’s world, with in the centre the new edition: Wimpel om de toeter: de avonturen van Albi, het mannetje op de maan (“Ribbon around the horn: the adventures of Albi, the man on the moon”).

It has become a wonderful book in riso-print, where Albi’s adventures unfold almost without dialogue but with brilliant scenography.

The rest of the gallery shows brilliant originals and some exquisite giclée prints.

However you must hurry to see it all, as the show is in its last week and can still be seen on Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st of November.   

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© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Rik Buter and HOK Gallery, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 24. Jip Piet, Vieze gluiperds (Dirty Creeps); HOK Gallery, The Hague

What can you do as an artist and illustrator during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Well, for an artist there is always something to do.

For Jip Piet it was enough reason to take some famous faces under close scrutiny.

Meticulously he did some research into how inner rottenness and creepiness could be made visible in their faces.

We all have our dark and sour sides.

However, we have learnt to strike a balance between the flowering and the rotting in our characters.

We stress the first and hide the latter.

In these digital times any character is a branding of the best, the most wonderful, the terrific, etc.

In social media people present themselves with their faces as the best possible friends one could dream of.

The most famous should be the most trustworthy and the least stinky, but are they?

In HOK Gallery Jip Piet re-introduces you to the famous and gorgeous icons of the post-postmodern world.

He shows you the rotting spots in their faces or even the slightest mean wrinkle around an eye or in the corner of a mouth.

If you want to see it all you have to hurry, as today is the last day of this very short running show.

And be prepared to meet yourself!

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© Villa Next Door 2020. Last picture © HOK Gallery.

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Jip Piet and HOK Gallery, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 10. Harold de Bree, Borderlines; HOK Gallery, The Hague

Tiny HOK-gallery has reopened with new work by Harold de Bree (1966).

De Bree took his copper plates, or rather printed circuit boards used in computers, to the border of the two Koreas, on the South Korean side.

He prepared them with paint and went to see what he could do with them in a heavily militarised border zone like the Korean where he also visited many old battlefields from the Korean War (1950-1953).

In the end they became a kind of dialogue between the landscape and the prepared plates themselves.

It wasn’t possible to take photographs of the landscape, while just making compositions with found objects from the military zone was too superficial.

So De Bree used found objects to scratch the landscape – the hills but also the dams that were built on both sides of the border – into the copper plates.

As such he made a series of works that are open to a wide range of interpretations.

They defy the ban on publicly showing certain details of the border area.

On the other hand the surface of the works are blurred and only the graphic lines of the hilltops and the dams impose themselves as abstract lines.

To make the experience complete, you are allowed to be alone for ten minutes with the works in the gallery on Saturdays or you may see them by appointment.

Any way you choose, they are good works to see in real as they change by any change of light, becoming copperplates of both defiance and acquiescence.

© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Harold de Bree and to HOK Gallery, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 6. Hoogtij #61 (High Tide Festival #61), The Hague

Usually Villa Next Door doesn’t pay much attention to events like Hoogtij (Dutch for ‘High Tide’). Hoogtij is a seasonal Hague event – always on a Friday night – in which most commercial and non-commercial galleries in the city are open to the public. Gallerists and artists are present and there are always many special events. Due to the circumstances this couldn’t take place yesterday night, so the organisation decided to go online. 22 venues took part in this edition.

So i sat down in front of my computer to see everything. Most of the material can still be seen on the internet. A special event was an interview by Marie Jeanne de Rooij with Jane Huldman, sister, mother and grandmother to many an artist in The Hague.

It is a warm blooded interview, recommended for those who are interested in modern and contemporary art history of The Hague and the nitty-gritty of, amongst others, the Dutch art subsidy system. The interview is in Dutch and  it is not subtitled.

I hopped alphabetically through The Hague in order not to miss anything, so i started at …ism which showed Museum Guards, in which the inhabitants of …ism perform as guards of their own house and collection, staring at you blankly in their own paradise.

1646 has a delightful presentation by Afra Eisma  of her exhibition Feline Whispers which had to close down because of the corona crisis, but which can now be experienced digitally.

Undoubtedly hers is one of the most moving Hoogtij presentations.

Victoria Kieffer’s presentation at Aether Haga is interesting for its content, but why didn’t she present it in French with English subtitles and with more creativity in the visual materials?

Baracca gives a trailer, or rather an announcement of its 2015 project Inside Job, which can be seen on Yvo van der Vat’s YouTube channel. It will take you more than an hour to see the whole movie.

At De Helena Hanna de Haan and Rik Buter have been working on a charcoal wall drawing, improvising on and reacting to each other’s work.

At Dürst Britt & Mayhew gallerist Jaring Dürst Britt shows you around in its first lustrum exhibition Vèf Jaaaah, with works by all the gallery’s artists. If you switch to the gallery’s Facebook and Instagram pages you can see Alexander Mayhew talking about the different works of art (in English). I reported about the exhibition here.

Galerie Maurits van de Laar presents a tour by artist and curator of its present exhibition Christie van der Haak.

As Christie has been a much valued teacher at the Royal Academy in The Hague she will be to many – like Jane Huldman – a kind of sister, mother and grandmother of the arts. It is a wonderful presentation in Dutch. I reported about the exhibition here.

At the Grafische Werkplaats (Graphic Studio) Nina van Dijk and Cedric ter Bals show you around (in English) in the exhibition Slechte verhalen fikken niet (Bad Stories Don’t Burn) while Christiaan Schoonenberg presents his own story.

All done in a wonderfully spontaneous way (at least, that is how it looks like).

At Heden artist Thijs Jaeger presents his work Four Horse Men, a small but intriguing work based on the Apocalypse. The presentation is in Dutch.

At HOK gallery, one of the very smallest in The Hague, Harold de Bree opens his own exhibition Borderlines.

His presentation is in English and there is even champagne!

At Maldoror Gallery Roeland Langendoen and Elsbeth Verheul show paintings.

Maldoror is one of the easiest accessible of the lot as it is just a shop window.

Malieveldwerk is at the Malieveld where on Saturdays you may find one or more artists experimenting. The short video is from 2013 (when snow was still a common winter feature in this country) in which the experiments are announced by Topp & Dubio. The announcement is in Dutch.

Projektruimte West end (West End Project Space) shows you around in an exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs and objects featuring cats.

A must see for any cat lover or even not-cat lover.

Quartair presents the interactive exhibition It takes some extra clicks to get there, but it is fun.

Refunc is one of the very few venues which are digitally much better than in real, as far as i am concerned.

Those who need a reflective moment about space are well served by Henk Hubenet at Ruimtevaart with the short but fine video Circumstanced.

See Lab, itself located in far off Scheveningen, which makes it difficult to physically take part in Hoogtij, can be accessed now online with a presentation of the digital project Walking with Unimals by the artists of Pointer Studio. The project is presently on show ‘in real’ at See Lab.

In a very short presentation gallerist Alex Lebbink shows you the way to his SinArts Gallery.

It takes some extra clicking to SinArts’ own website to see the very interesting and worthwhile presentations of four artists and their works. Alex interviewed them all in English and it is a good way to get acquainted with their work. There are some short but beautiful video works and a recording of an impressive performance readily accessible as well.

Peter van Beveren’s The Archives has no short video. Why not? Surely all those books look interesting and intriguing enough, don’t they?

With a very short teaser Trixie announces its upcoming exhibition focus loslaten | ontspannen (let loose focus | relax) which takes place in June and for which you can apply in advance for a visit.

West Den Haag in “Onze Ambassade” (“Our Embassy” –  the former American Embassy) shows some slides of the four exhibitions it has at the moment.

Z Extra: Raamproject (Window Project), shows a short preview of a project by artist Yvette Teeuwen. Together with painter Casper Verborg – Yvette outside and Casper inside – they make a drawing on a window (at Heden). After some time a passer-by is also allowed to take part.

To end the evening i watched the short movie Dusk of the Harmonious Garden by Shen Wei, one of SinArts’ artists. A perfect and peaceful work to finish with!

Although these video presentations can never match the atmosphere and uniqueness of the usual Hoogtij events they are a good sign of life of the artists community in The Hague, and, as such, more venues could have taken part. Just to give a sign of life. Another good message is that most of the exhibitions are still on show “in real” and can be visited under conditions, so inquire at the websites of the galleries how you can visit them.

Click here to see all the Hoogtij presentations on its YouTube channel.

© Villa Next Door 2020

All photographs are stills / screen shots from the different presentations; courtesy to the artists, venues and the makers of the videos.

Bertus Pieters



Gaye Black, Dolls and Bones; HOK Gallery, The Hague

Gaye Black (1956) was once the bass player Gaye Advert of punk band The Adverts (1976-1979).

As such she was a female hero of the punk movement, and, in fact, she still is as she makes art.

Her work is characteristically punk in its celebration of the bizarre, the cheeky, of freedom, humour and of life and death.

In quite a few works she uses symmetry as a way of composition, giving her the opportunity to multiply all kinds of weird details.

Generally, the presented works, currently on show at HOK Gallery, don’t seem to have a certain subject or theme.

They all give a glimpse in a punk universe.

However, the gallery has closed because of the covid-19 virus (maybe you can try and peer in through the gallery’s window).

After all, in a small space of some thirteen square yards it is difficult to keep a five feet distance from each other.

But, apart from that, punk goes on!

© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Gaye Black and HOK Gallery, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters


Peter Zwaan, Skins; HOK Gallery, The Hague

There is only one big purpose in nature: staying alive at all cost, even if the time span of life itself may vary from just a few hours to more than a millennium.

The main methods nature uses seem to be coincidence and chance. Everything around us happens to be as it is.

Mind you, if evolution had – again, by chance – taken another route, forced by circumstances, we might have looked and felt quite differently (or we might not have existed at all).

In fact nature’s toolbox gives almost infinite possibilities and variations of how we, living beings, look like and what attracts and repels us to make us mentally function in life.

As human beings we can even play a bit with that toolbox and with artificial materials. Peter Zwaan (1968) makes works that give you an idea of evolution-gone-wrong.

Paper becoming skin, beer cans growing skin with birthmarks and hair or the idea of fish fingers taken quite literally, Zwaan makes it all and shows it in a retrospective at HOK Gallery.

Especially on a hot summer day in the tiny gallery – of barely 120 square feet –,  you may doubt if you smell your own sweat or that of Zwaan’s works.

Zwaan takes the fun quite seriously which makes his works both attractive and repulsive.

After seeing Zwaan’s work, drinking from a beer can won’t be the same experience anymore.

The show also proves that a retrospective doesn’t necessarily need a lot of space and hundreds of works.

Also in that respect HOK gallery and Zwaan have succeeded in making a good and imaginative show.

© Villa Next Door 2019

Content of all photograph courtesy to Peter Zwaan and HOK Gallery, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters



Harold de Bree, SSIXS; HOK Gallery, The Hague

Harold de Bree (1966) presently shows some works on copper at HOK gallery, The Hague’s smallest commercial gallery.

As usual there is a military link to De Bree’s work.

In the background you’ll hear short wave radio codes spoken and other sinister radio noises which are clearly not meant to be understood by a nosy listener.

That is probably also the best way to appreciate these copper works: copper as a conductive metal on which codes are splashed and painted, even engraved, on which the changing light also brings a kind of sinister visible noises.

Codes disguised as neat abstract paintings.

But i must admit i like the paintings apart from all that.

© Villa Next Door 2019

Content of all photographs courtesy to Harold de Bree and HOK Gallery, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters