Jean Brusselmans; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Jean Brusselmans (1883-1953) is undeservedly not a household name.

This is probably because he was outstripped by colleagues of his generation as Brusselmans’s personal style took quite a long time to evolve.

The present exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum shows works from the 1930s and 1940s, his most prolific and characteristic period.

Although his experiments and endeavours weren’t always successful, as the exhibition shows, they also brought him to making some nearly immaculate masterpieces.

In every new painting he tries to find a balance in form, colour and mass in his subjects, resulting in his best works in a fine lyricism or a distinguished monumentality.

Whether his subjects are joyful or sorrowful, Brusselmans always avoids sentimentality and overt expressiveness.

Pain, love and joy to him were clearly never a narrative but sentiments that should be worn with human dignity, without decorum but with style, not something to move the viewer to tears but to let him/her discover the glance of them.

For any lover of painting there are a lot of wonderful and fascinating works on show.

Works where you can see Brusselmans trying how to decide about colours and shapes,  sometimes painting over original details but then  making them visible again.

You see him deciding to leave certain parts sketchy or just open, next to fully painted parts. Details become decorations and decorations become expression.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all pictures courtesy to all owners and Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

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Andrea Freckmann, Commedia, Get On Stage!; Galerie Maurits van de Laar, The Hague

Andrea Freckmann (1970) currently has a solo show at Galerie Maurits van de Laar.

It is rare for an artist to have a solo exhibition at Van de Laar’s gallery, but the subject clearly needs it and, what’s more, Freckmann’s work is worth it.

Freckmann clearly is both a painter and a narrator, though her stories don’t seem to have a beginning or an end.

As such they resemble the commedia dell’arte by which this show is inspired.

The figures of the commedia dell’arte have evolved in a tradition of about two centuries with characters like Pierrot, Arlecchino or Colombina who became part of West European culture.

As such they always played the hopes, pitfalls, sentiments and especially the morals of daily life as a caricature, masked and unmasked.

Freckmann adds her own figures and objects to the stories.

There is the ever-present silent dog, the sloppily feathered blackcap, a vase, a timber framed house or even the odd handsome prince on a white horse.

The great thing about Freckmann’s works is that she doesn’t just paint scenes, but that her painting, both technically and compositionally, becomes part of the narrative, or the other way round..

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Andrea Freckmann and Galerie Maurits van de Laar, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague #62

Façade of a three storey 18th century building with corbels in Louis XIV style, Wagenstraat. Shop front in a much later style.

The ground floor contained the famous HCAK (Haags Centrum voor Actuele Kunst – The Hague Centre for Contemporary Art) from the late 1970s onward, which was the first non-commercial artists run presentation platform in The Hague and one of the first in the Netherlands. Later it moved to Stille Veerkade (click here to see the place) where it continued its activities until the early 1990s.

It now houses a carpenter’s shop. The façade is a municipal monument.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

All pictures taken in March 2017

Bertus Pieters

Hans Lemmen, Walkabout; Galerie Helder, The Hague

The present exhibition of works by Hans Lemmen (1959) at Helder has some unexpected and absurdist turns right from the beginning when entering the gallery up to the patio (no picture of that one included here, so you have to go and see for yourself) at the end of the show.

Lemmen’s work seems to be dug up, either from the soil or from the mind.

That is why you may find hand axes shining like diamonds, but the spade too with which they were dug up looks unworldly as well as earthly.

There is a marvelous big drawing of a gently sloping landscape,  well plowed in an orderly manner, but full of hidden history and of high voltage pylons to keep everything ‘under the net’.

But clearly, in Lemmen’s works things just don’t want to stay ‘under the net’.

They are full of pleasant – or maybe unpleasant – awkwardness.

Some works look like moments in which things happen beyond control, as if a higher power is playing with sensitivities, history and the present, moments of love, beauty, death and destruction, just for the fun of it.

Just as the gods did when the world was still polytheistic.

There is also a cabinet with drawers full of drawings and objects – with amongst others the catalogue of the project Lemmen did together with American photographer, working in South Africa, Roger Ballen (1950) .

You will probably want to see them all, but you may also get the feeling that they don’t want to see you.

Helder is usually very good at making exhibitions, but it seems this show has more or less made itself.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Hans Lemmen and Galerie Helder, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Body Building; Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague

Last year in April and May Dürst Britt & Mayhew showed its potential in painting in the exhibition Stretch Release, and with its present show it makes an equally interesting statement with its potential in sculpture.

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Jonas Wijtenburg

Jonas Wijtenburg

Works by Alex Farrar (1986), Alexandre Lavet (1988), Joseph Montgomery (1979), Maarten Overdijk (1977) and Jonas Wijtenburg (1989) demonstrate a kind of physicality inherent to the discipline.

Jonas Wijtenburg

Jonas Wijtenburg

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

It not just deals with the physicality of sculpture itself but also with the corporeal approach of the viewer in the space where both viewer and sculpture are present.

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Not just the fact that the viewer should move around the sculpture to see all aspects of it – which is always essential in looking at sculpture – but also the physical sensation of the viewer is an important aspect of the process in the relationship between sculpture and viewer.

Alex Farrar

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

That is of course always an important aspect in art, as body and mind always react to format, colour, construction and visibility, whether it is in painting, digital art, book illustration, architecture or film.

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Alex Farrar

Alex Farrar

However, in sculpture – and in its wake installation art – it is essential.

Alex Farrar

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

In making a work of art a sculptor or installation artist moves around his or her work in the process to constantly assess what spatial possibilities it has in it and around it, and what physical and psychological sensation (always cross-linked in the use of our senses) it generates.

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

Jonas Wijtenburg

This show clearly invites the viewer to do the same.

Jonas Wijtenburg

Jonas Wijtenburg

Alexandre Lavet

Alexandre Lavet

Alexandre Lavet

Whether you want to see through Farrar’s hazy sweat paintings (and indeed they are more than paintings, as many paintings in last spring’s show also were) or through the obstructions of history (decay, building, repression, liberation) in Wijtenburg’s impressive Becoming/Unbecoming/Rebecoming works; whether

Alexandre Lavet

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

Joseph Montgomery

you experience the corporeality of abstraction in Montgomery’s works as well as in Overdijk’s sculptures, or the physical desire to escape the daily world and recoil yourself in the mind in Lavet’s I would prefer not to, it is clear sculpture always needs you as a partner.

Jonas Wijtenburg

Jonas Wijtenburg

Jonas Wijtenburg

Maarten Overdijk

Maarten Overdijk

As such Body Building has become a group exhibition of great eloquence and a great pendant to last year’s Stretch Release.

Maarten Overdijk

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to the artists and Dürst Britt & Mayhew, Den Haag

 

Bertus Pieters

Yaïr Callender, For the vision of Abou Ben Adhem; 1646, The Hague

Yaïr Callender (1987) is an artist with a great feeling for monumentality.

As he has shown in earlier works, monumentality to him is not just a matter of size and proportions, neither is it about an object to mark a certain event or to remember a special person.

In his kind of monumentality Callender wants to communicate with the public, or, like here in 1646, a gallery space, with the audience.

What his monumentality communicates is a celebration of knowledge, the spiritual and the social, three big columns of humanity.

Although he is clearly inspired by the greater and smaller monuments of global art history, he doesn’t feel the need to impress the audience.

His eclecticism isn’t for postmodern quasi-intellectual self-referential intertextuality, it wants to speak to the mind, foster reflection, imagination and communality.

He doesn’t want you to take part, he wants it to take part in you.

Abou Ben Adhem, who appears in the title of Callender’s present installation, is a fictional figure from a poem by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), one of the minor poets of the days of early English Romanticism.

The poem, which is quite well-known in England, tells about Abou Ben Adhem, who dreams of peace and who sees an angel in the moonlight of his room, Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom, and who declares to the angel that he is one that loves his fellow men, and, not really one who love(s) the Lord.

The angel writes in a book of gold, and reappears to Abou Ben Adhem the next night with a great wakening light.

The third protagonist in the poem is the Lord, whose messenger is the angel and who blesses Abou Ben Adhem in the end for loving his fellow men.

The poem obviously served as an inspiration to Callender as you can tell from his use of light and dark in the installation, allusions to day and night, the warmth of the light (just take a seat and feel it!), finding peace and comfort for and in life and death, and the spiritual in communication when you share a water pipe (which you can imagine Abou Ben Adhem might have done).

Callender’s monumentality is particularly warm hearted, even if you haven’t read about Abou Ben Adhem (for which it is, i’m afraid, a bit too late now).

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all pictures courtesy to Yaïr Callender and 1646, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague #61

Façade with apartments and a shop front, Wagenstraat; originally 18th century and without the shop front, but it was redesigned first quarter 20th century, adding commercial space on the ground floor.

After different changes of the shop front it got its present character in the beginning of this century.

In spite of its attempt to be elegant the shop front looks too cheap to be in balance with the rest of the gable.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

All pictures were taken in March 2017

Bertus Pieters

Uit het atelier van Klaus Baumgärtner (From Klaus Baumgärtner’s Studio); Galerie Ramakers, The Hague

What imagination and therefore art can do, is far less obvious in the glittering spectacles made to entertain us, than in the sometimes very small gestures and shapes of our daily lives.

Klaus Baumgärtner (1948-2013) based his work on the latter.

He saw the possibilities of found objects, pieces of different materials, plants, wood, found footage, light and shading, to put his (and our) imagination into operation.

I think that was not a matter of modesty, but of a very vivid interest in how shapes and gestures communicate.

Presently you can see works by Baumgärtner at Galerie Ramakers, delicate, not always in shape, but certainly in thought and concept.

The gestures are not just in the bending twigs and branches or in the curvature of shapes and lines, but also in the way of Baumgärtner’s composing and thinking.

It is about the sheer joy of seeing, conceiving and making the objects and they are never just funny jokes.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to Galerie Ramakers, Den Haag

Bertus Pieters