Art in corona times 102. The end of ‘Art in corona times’. What next?

Art in corona times 1. 2 May 2020, SinArts Gallery

From May 2nd 2020 onwards i started categorising photo reports about exhibitions in Villa Next Door under the header Art in corona times.

Art in corona times 4, 15 May 2020, Topp & Dubio
Art in corona times 7a, 4 June 2020, A.R. Penck, Kunstmuseum, The Hague
Art in corona times 11, 23 June 2020, Mazen Ashkar, 1646
Art in corona times 18, 29 July 2020, Janice McNab, Stroom
Art in corona times 23, 19 August 2020, Caravaggio, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

By that time the corona restrictions were already intensely experienced by the arts sector. These days Covid-19 is still there but the heaviest lockdown measures have been lifted, so Art in corona times will be history for the time being. Art in corona times started with a visit to SinArts Gallery . I hadn’t seen Alex Lebbink, SinArts’ gallerist, for quite some time and he had organised time slots for individual visitors. The idea was that the corona measures would be very temporary and that i would use the label Art in corona times for a few postings, just to see how galleries and other art platforms were doing during the crisis and after that it would be more or less business as usual. However, that proved to be quite naive. Corona became a way of life in which the arts were not seen as an essential need in life. At first artists and other professionals were more or less empathetic to that idea, but as the crisis went on and on, the government’s sheer lack of interest for the arts became a thorn in the flesh of many an art professional, especially after the health minister’s remark that if you cannot go to the theatre you might as well stay at home and see a dvd, as if there was no difference between the two. Last week i posted Art in corona times 101 with some extra footage of the interesting exhibition about Aad de Haas at the Chabot Museum in Rotterdam and that was the last one under the corona banner.

Art in corona times 29, 17 September 2020, Steamboat, Trixie
Art in corona times 34, 28 September 2020, Jessica de Wolf, Artist Support Fair, Quartair
Art in corona times 37, 13 October 2020, Robbin Heyker’s Birding Club, featuring Arjan Dwarshuis
Art in corona times 43, 7 November 2020, Simphiwe Ndzube, Nest, The Hague
Art in corona times 48, 30 November 2020, Sjimmie Veenhuis, …ism

For those who want to have an idea of what was on show during the pandemic Art in corona times is easily locatable in Villa Next Door.

Art in corona times 52, 14 December 2020, Ellen Yiu, A Finger in Every Pie, Royal Academy students’ pre-graduation show

Lockdowns etc are over now but that doesn’t mean the worries about this or any other virus are gone.

Art in corona times 56, 20 February 2021, Ingrid Rollema, PIP Den Haag
Art in corona times 59, 14 March 2021, Paul van der Eerden, Romy Muijrers, Galerie Maurits van de Laar
Art in corona times 64, 9 April 2021, André Kruysen, Galerie Ramakers
Art in corona times 68, 30 April 2021, Zhang Shujian, PARTS Project
Art in corona times 75, 11 June 2021, Marion van Rooi, Jan Wattjes, Luuk Kuipers, Quartair

Covid-19 may return with a more dangerous version, and an altogether new and equally or more dangerous virus may come. The question is not if it will come, but when it will come. The bird flu virus being one of the most obvious contenders in the real viral world. Another worry in the aftermath of corona is the questionable urge of authorities to control everything and everybody, if possible with modern technology. This urge is understandable as authorities of any political colour try to influence social processes for the benefit of society as a whole. However, even before the Corona crisis it has already been proven that this urge to control has turned against citizens, as a holy faith in the objectivity of modern technology, market forces and a reduction of the state to a kind of control device has replaced a democracy in which different opinions in society play a role. Villa Next Door is not the place to make a deep analysis about society, politics, the free market, modern technology, the influence of debilitating conspiracy theories, and a considerable chunk of society that rather believes in so-called alternative facts than in real facts, that prefers evil tales to science. However this is the framework – as i see it – in which art is made, seen and presented today in this country, and i want to be clear about the context in which i give you my reports about exhibitions and art in this blog. After all, you don’t have to agree, but you should know. Another worry is the new situation with the war in Ukraine. One might suggest i should replace Art in corona times with Art in war times. However, the Netherlands are at the moment not at war with any other country. Also, it should be said that another devastating war is going on in Yemen for seven years now. Although this is principally a civil war, it has become internationalised, with other countries in the Middle East intervening. The conflict in Ukraine may have a global significance, or rather, it will have, even if the war itself remains physically limited to Ukraine. That, together with the devils unleashed during the Corona crisis, will bring us interesting but also ominous times. So, in the mean time, i repost some pictures here of some highlights of Art in corona times.

Art in corona times 81a, 12 July 2021, Joseph Palframan. Royal Academy, The Hague
Art in corona times 82b, 26 August 2021, Farkhondeh Shahroudi. Sonsbeek 20-24, Arnhem
Art in corona times 88, 27 September 2021, Yaïr Callender, Kadmium, Delft
Art in corona times 95, 17 December 2021, Casper Verborg, Galerie Helder
Art in corona times 97, 21 January 2022, Yesim Akdeniz, Dürst Britt & Mayhew

Hope to see you soon in real life or in this blog, stay healthy and sane, and keep your eyes open!

Art in corona times 101, 16 February 2022, Aad de Haas, Chabot Museum, Rotterdam

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© Villa Next Door 2022

Contents of all photographs courtesy to all artists, galleries, art platforms, museums and owners of the works.

Bertus Pieters


Art in corona times 88. Matthias Grothus & Yaïr Callender, Jam Session; Kadmium, Delft

Studio view; Yaïr Callender

As i initiated this show of works by Matthias Grothus (1982) and Yaïr Callender (1987) at Kadmium, Delft, this report is a bit different.

Matthias Grothus sketching in his studio
Yaïr Callender; studio view
Matthias Grothus; studio view
Yaïr Callender; studio view

The idea was to make a show with objects and/or installations that would cause a sense of wonder, a bit like in a Kunst und Wunderkammer, something both Grothus and Callender would be good at.

Matthias Grothus; studio view
Yaïr Callender; studio view
Matthias Grothus; studio view

We decided to leave a lot of room for improvisation.

Yaïr Callender; studio view
Matthias Grothus; studio view
Yaïr Callender’s works have arrived at the gallery

Callender has his studio in The Hague and Grothus in Zaandam, so it wouldn’t be easy for the artists to visit each other and exchange ideas.

Yaïr Callender’s works have arrived at the gallery
Yaïr Callender’s works have arrived at the gallery

That meant the actual making of the exhibition would be a kind of jam session on the day of installation at the gallery.

Yaïr Callender’s works have arrived at the gallery
First parts of Matthias Grothus’ works have arrived
Parts of Matthias Grothus’ work, waiting to be assembled

Happily the artists got on quite well together and they had a good feel for each other’s works.

Assembling Matthias Grothus’ work is like reconstructing a fossil
The artists attaching Matthias Grothus’ flying creature
… and there it flies!

Although the works were challenging, real problems didn’t happen.

Attaching a work by Yaïr Callender
Yaïr Callender adding some finishing touches

As a result I think some of the tension and the joy of making the exhibition can still be seen.

Matthias Grothus working on the flying creature’s head
The flying creature has a head!

Centre piece is of course Grothus’ flying creature, which is both strong and transparent.

Matthias Grothus fixing the head
It flies head on!

It flies like a phoenix supported by Callender’s works and accompanied by the deep, earthly humming of a sound work by Grothus.

Yaïr Callender
Yaïr Callender

Callender’s works try to let the surrounding world speak for itself.

Yaïr Callender
Yaïr Callender
Yaïr Callender

Although the show was originally planned for last spring (but had to be postponed because of Covid-19), it obviously works very well in this autumn of anxiety, where it might bring a moment of reflection to the viewer.

Yaïr Callender
Yaïr Callender
Matthias Grothus
Matthias Grothus’ sound installation

It has become a show of both deep seriousness and freaky humour.

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© Villa Next Door 2021

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Matthias Grothus, Yaïr Callender and Kadmium, Delft

Bertus Pieters


Studio visit #9. Yaïr Callender

It was a grey day when i visited Yaïr Callender (1987) in his studio, in a seemingly forgotten suburb of The Hague near Broeksloot Canal.

Exactly the time and place not to be distracted by road signs, colourful advertising, cars and other visual noise, and to value the shapes and characters of things and objects, and to see how man and nature work on them.

Once it must have been part of human instinct to closely examine and read the environment, to literally see what it had to tell us and to inspire our imagination.

Somewhere in the history of seeing there must have been some sort of point where nature became culture in the perception of man.

When i arrived, Callender was working on a hexagon, sanding and judging its surface.

We discussed the point where a spot either remains just a spot or becomes something significant in its structure and colour. He also told me he likes the hexagon as a shape.

It has more possibilities than for instance the rather stable square or than the circle with its connotations with eternity etc.

Apart from natural processes Callender has a keen interest in the basic shapes of culture and how they personify human thinking. Clearly, making is a kind of thinking to Callender.

That is also a great difference with carpentry – the trade he is trying to earn a daily income with.

He likes the work itself but it is quite different from art in that it is – for all its aesthetics – purely practical.

Walking around in Callender’s studio one could easily get the idea that being an artist is a kind of romantic business where everything will shape itself if the artist is in the right mood.

Nothing could be further from the truth however, as Callender has to critically think and rethink his ideas while working and watching and also thinking about the practicalities of things.

Will the objects he is making have the right impact on the viewer, and how will they behave in the exhibition space?

And then there are the common everyday practicalities: how to organise your daily business such that you can give your art the dominant and professional place in life it needs. Well, the common story for any artist i guess.

Callender is best known for his monumental work, but his care for detail also brings him to works in which these details attract attention of the viewer and will make the viewer look further for details.

These details may be sculpted, drawn, painted or anything else, as long as they make the viewer wonder and associate.

Any intervention, any detail in a work adds to the meaning of the whole work, whether it is the surface of it, the colour or structure or any sign.

We talked things over with a cup of coffee until we both had to go our ways, back to the rumour of daily life again.

Next month Callender’s work can be seen at Omstand in Arnhem and later somewhere this year in Delft.  

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 2021

Contents of all photographs courtesy to Yaïr Callender

Bertus Pieters