Though he wasn’t born in The Hague, he lived for a major part of his life in this town and undeniably left his artistic marks here.
There have been retrospectives of his work in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and even twice in Dordrecht, but in spite of that Verdijk has only become a household name to very few artists and art lovers.
The present exhibition – recently reopened when anti-corona measures were alleviated a bit, difficult to find on the museum’s website, and unclear in how long it will be there – may give a clue to that underrating.
Almost each work on show has the magic to suck you into the intimacy of its composition, such that you may even feel a voyeur; that is, if you really surrender to these works.
I have no idea how long these works will be on show, so hurry to see them!
Again, under the tranquillity of the Covid-19 measures at the museum, it was a great joy to see these works in all their preciousness again, without the pressure of any other visitors who may disturb your attention.
After all, art watching is an egotistic activity.
At best it’s you and the work of art, and nobody in between or around.
However, i couldn’t spend much time there as i needed time for the Lucassen show. Reinier Lucassen (1939) has built an impressive oeuvre of paintings.
He started in the 1960s as an artist who combined elements of figurative and abstract art and of high art and consumer culture, like other artists in the Netherlands and Belgium, usually called Nieuwe figuratie (New Figuration).
In the case of Lucassen it has become an art intermingled with the beauty of the banal and the absurd.
Lucassen’s work is also linguistic, as such it may be even more mysterious to a non-Dutch speaker than it is for a Batavophone.
As usual in these big shows at the KM there is an overload of works.
The works are not presented chronologically.
To an extent, that works, as mutual correlations between the paintings of different periods may become clear.
On the other hand, after watching intensely (which is now really possible!) for some time, one gets the idea of getting a bit dizzy of all these different voices that shout, sing and whisper at you.
To be short about visiting the KM at the moment: it is now possible to really look at the works intensely, or even reflect on them while looking, which is great and unique for this period of the crisis.
However, as the exhibitions are quite big – apart from Navid Nuur’s, although his is big in its reflective content – you need to plan ahead what you really want to see.
Otherwise you may not fall victim to the Covid-19 virus but to the Stendhal syndrome.
There are very strict restrictions to enter and to move around in the museum.
Reservations have to be made online for a two hours timeslot, there is an obligatory choice between two routes and only one-way traffic is possible, but generally everything is very well organised and staff seem to be more friendly than usual.
The two routes are the so-called Berlage Route and the Mondrian Route.
Although two hours were obviously not enough for me, i very much enjoyed seeing all these works in real.
Because of the restrictions and the maximum number of visitors (which is indicated for every room) i had a very tranquil afternoon.
No crowds of people who are in your way, just silence and very little noise of another visitor now and then, that’s how i like it! In this report you see some aspects of the first leg of my tour: A.R. Penck (1939-2017) and Navid Nuur (1976).
I am planning a review for Villa la Repubblica (in Dutch) about at least one of the three not-permanent shows, so keep yourself posted!
As for A.R. Penck: I saw his work first in a solo show somewhere in the 1970s in the Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam (digitally i can’t find any reference to that exhibition).
That was quite an experience to me as an adolescent (which, i must say, is quite a broad definition in my case).
His works were exhibited on partitions, creating small rooms where you were confronted with his graffiti.
It was both artistically and for its presentation a revelation to me. Now he has become one of the classics of German art.
The present show at the KM is quite a big retrospective.
It has all the pros and cons of such a blockbuster.
It is quite overwhelming, and even some huge paintings were pushed into the very inner of the museum in one way or another.
A few smaller parts of the show are closed because of the corona measures, but, as it’s such a big show, you don’t really miss that.
I felt privileged having all these works practically for my own.
No idea how old Navid Nuur was when i saw my first Penck exhibition, but the times of revelations seem to be far behind us.
After the savagery of Penck’s painting Nuur offers you more introspection in the KM’s so-called project space.
Nuur shows you the almost eternal life of dead matter, its transformation into minerals, into life, into light, into history, into philosophy, permeating and indeed being part of us and the rest of the world.
He has made a fine ensemble out of it.
Another visitor walked around in the room as well, reading her booklet about the show, when at last she asked me if i understood it.
To me that is a question of conscience, for, as an art historian, one knows all too well that one can never fully understand a work of art…..