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.

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

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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 34. Artist Support Fair, Geen bloem zonder wortel (No Flower Without a Root); Quartair, The Hague

Lambert de Jong

What a good event this was, last weekend at Quartair!

Petra van der Schoot

Rik Buter

Caro Rambonnet

It stressed the exceptional position of The Hague in the field of the arts, but it also indicated that that doesn’t happen just like that.

Bertus Gerssen

Marjolijn van der Meij (with a nod to George Stubbs)

Less than thirty years ago The Hague was a provincial backwater.

Ton Schuttelaar

Annemieke Louwerens

Bringing it where it is now, has taken a lot of energy.

Sogo Show

Ingrid Rollema

However, art life in The Hague is still very vulnerable.

Nies Vooijs

Zeger Reyers

Main point is that it should be recognised that the development of a blossoming artistic life in The Hague is up to its artists and its artists’ initiatives and not to the local authorities’ hobbies.

Machiel van Soest

Rens Krikhaar

Geeske Harting

Therefore it is heart warming to see artists trying to take back the initiative.

Mekhila Harrison

Riet Vooijs

Of course this can only be a beginning, and in itself the event was modest in almost everything.

Paul de Jong

Jordan Herregraven

Tejo Philips

175 works of art were put up for sale, each for E300 or less, and so the works on show were small.

Erik-Jan Ligtvoet

Erik-Jan Ligtvoet

However, what it lacked in dimensions, it won in diversity.

Harold de Bree

Gino Anthonisse

This diversity is one of the best assets of art life in The Hague.

Hein van Liempd

Wieteke Heldens

Here i show you thirty of the works i found most interesting and best photographable.

Zahar Bondar

Topp & Dubio

A very personal choice of course, but that’s the risk of reading Villa Next Door.

Jeannette Slütter

Ilona Senghore

Jessica de Wolf

By the way, while writing these words, extra measures were announced by the government to cope with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, so, the title of the open letter that accompanied the event Don’t forget the artists! has become even more urgent.

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

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© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to artists and Quartair, 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



Art in corona times 4. Topp & Dubio in a Street, The Hague

I went on a bike ride to write an article for Villa La Repubblica about Topp & Dubio in a Street by Topp & Dubio, which can be seen at forty tram stops in town. Click here to read the article (in Dutch).

Click here for the page with a map where you can find the tram stops.

I’ve written quite extensively in VLR about the project, so i leave you here with some impressions. Take a look in your neighbourhood, i’m sure they are there as well!

© Villa Next Door 2020

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Topp & Dubio, Den Haag.

Bertus Pieters