Brique; at Quartair gallery, The Hague

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The new cultural season for the visual arts in The Hague was opened last Friday with the exhibition Brique in Quartair.

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I went there the next day to write an article for Villa la Repubblica as it is a very fine exhibition.

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The artists are all from Belgium.

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The works are very diverse, with prints, drawings, installations and sculptures. Untill here you’ve seen works by Hedwig Brouckaert (drawings on print), Hans Demeulenaere (installation Spheres) and Stéphanie Leblon (painting).

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View of the gallery.

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Detail of a sculpture by Anton Cotteleer who invented an alternative way to keep a squirrel.

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Details of a gigantic woodcut by Caroline Coolen, who also made

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these ceramic dogs, cooperating with

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Demeulenaere who arranged the bricks.

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Cotteleer’s three graces clearly lost their heads in the process, while

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Stefan Serneels’ ink drawings, of which you see details here, add to the dreamlike ideas in this exhibition.

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Demeulenaere shows some installations, but is

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also responsible to more or less unifying the exhibition with brick structures. They

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bind together the different works of the other artists. Demeulenaere calls it

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Preparation for a Winter Garden. A good preparation for the coming season and its introvert nature.

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

See the main article and additional pictures here.

Bertus Pieters

Kees Wattjes: Kees speelt door (Kees plays on) at HKK, The Hague

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Haagse Kunstkring (The Hague Art Circle;

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HKK) is not the place where

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you’d expect an exceptionally surprising or

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exciting exhibition. But Kees Wattjes’ installation

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Kees speelt door (Kees plays on)

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can hardly not be called exciting.

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The installation comprises photo’s, collages and

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paintings, more or less shouting out

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that art and artist are one,

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which is Wattjes’ motto. Pictures of

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boarded-up homes, primitive painting, Wattjes himself

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in or in front of famous

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works of art are presented in

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a way to submerge you in

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a world of artistic reality in

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a culturally appropriate environment which makes

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this a very Hague-ish experience where

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the artistic is always trying to

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challenge the bourgeois longing for cultural

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pleasure. But it’s more than a

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pleasure, in spite of all that.

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters

Stephan Keppel: Entre entree, at LhGWR, The Hague

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To write an article for Villa La Repubblica about Stephan Keppel’s exhibition Entre entree i went to Lief hertje en de Grote Witte Reus ( LhGWR; Sweet little deer and the Big White Giant) gallery.

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Keppel’s work is a combination of finding, inventing, reproducing and probably sheer drunkenness in doing so.

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Problem with works on paper is that you always see yourself and the surroundings mirrored in the protecting glass. But well, that’s a fact of life.

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In a way it also gives an extra dimension.

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Keppel made pictures in the seemingly lifeless suburbs. In his photography the buildings and landscaping only seem to exist by and for themselves.

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They become abstract compositions. In this great diptych the yellowed paper becomes part of the atmosphere (the reflection is from a video in the gallery).

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Keppel uses different kinds of paper, like in this case graph paper.

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You might even think the reflections in this glass case add to the experience.

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Even the glass roof adds to it with the composition with black lines in the background.

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Keppel’s work isn’t completely devoid of human beings but this one looks a bit defaced.

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But the use of black and white photography, screening and different prepared kinds of paper give everything, dead or alive, its place.

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Gold and silver even give an extra dimension in another way.

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Keppel has a good nose for finding these kind of things (or do they find him?).

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During the opening ceremony, of which some video footage is on show, Keppel’s new book Paris was presented.

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It’s a gorgeous book, full of grey and gold.
Be sure to go and see the show. Saturday 30 August is your last chance!

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Read full article and see additional pictures here.

Bertus Pieters

Jürgen Partenheimer: Het archief (The archive), Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

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To write a review for Villa La Repubblica, i went to see the exhibition Het Archief (The Archive) at the Gemeentemuseum, a retrospective of works by Jürgen Partenheimer. To start the show you see this painting (Ada I, 2007).

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When you turn round

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you see this watercolour (Die Flügel der Liebe [Der Andalusische Hund] #4; The Wings of Love [The Andalusian Dog] #4, 2010) and it’s clear this could be an interesting show.

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Works in the beginning look unassuming (Carme, 2005) and

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some are rather small (Nada, 1997), but

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some cannot hide they are quite brilliant (Sal I, 2012), while

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others are extremely simple (Der Revisor, The Auditor/The Reviser, 2000, detail) and clearly

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there’s no going back.

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In the same room there are some books, amongst them this one (Über den Irrtum, About the Error, 1999) with poems by Paul Celan and lithographies by Partenheimer and

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this one (The Wall, 1991) with poems by John Yau and etchings by Partenheimer.

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Partenheimer compiled the exhibition himself. He

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didn’t care for chronology and

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more or less used his intuition, which invites the viewer to do the same (Renga, 2012, detail).

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A combination of two watercolours of the same series (Kalliopes Traum, Calliope’s Dream #22 and #33, 2011), balancing in between abstraction and realism,

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in this case becoming a bit surrealistic (Sal #2, 2011), or

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simple again here (Tracks, 2012, details).

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The title of this oil painting says it all (Metaphysischer Realismus, Metaphysical Realism, 2004, detail)

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Different techniques lead to an astonishing variety (Der Revisor [Fox Sprite 1], 2000).

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And there’s subtlety in his oil paintings (Canto, 1996, detail; Carme, 1998; Carme, 1996).

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Partenheimer’s works make you zoom into them (Das Mass, The Measure, 2010),

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while with others Partenheimer plays with measure, distance and even age (Carme, 2004; Small Works, 2005-08; Überprüfbare Zeit, Controllable Time, 2008).

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One story (Carmen, 2000) and

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a completely different story (Carme, 2004), sharing more or less the same title, and

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another completely different more recent work (Seven Virtues, 2012).

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Some more details (Carme [Collected paths and clearings], 2008, detail; Untitled,. 2002, detail; Carmen, 2007, details; Carme, 2004, detail).

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Quite a lot of books are on display, but apart from the usual inconveniences with showing books in exhibitions, the reflections in the showcases make it difficult to see the details (Selected Texts, 1993; Architecture – Sculpture, 2000, detail).

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Partenheimer coupled these works together (Sao Paulo Tagebuch 3, Sao Paulo Diary 3, 2005; Carme 2001-04), a good example of how he made this exhibition.

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The Gemeentemuseum seems to be the perfect place to show these works.

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Exhibition view.

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On my way back i couldn’t resist looking at some more details.

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This may probably be one of these exhibitions that make you realise life is worth living.

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

See the full article at Villa La Repubblica with some additional footage.

Bertus Pieters

Ondertussen (Meanwhile); presentation by Maarten Boekweit, Stroom, The Hague

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Maarten Boekweit is an artist who makes temporary installations, does performances and actions. Last year he was

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in Chicago amongst others. There he happened to stay in one of the unsafest quarters, not on

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purpose, but because it was cheap. So, feeling unsafe, breaking through that feeling and finding a way

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to connecting with other people were the themes Boekweit had to deal with. He did so by

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dancing. He designed a dance and asked people in the street to dance with him, inspired by

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a dance workshop he followed in Finland and by Bruce Willis in Die Hard with a Vengeance.

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In the process he asked himself if he was radical enough in his actions giving Jeroen Eisinga,

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who covered himself with bees, as an example. But i think it’s more Boekweit’s clarity in this

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presentation in Stroom which is confronting, inspiring and intriguing. That may create something radical in its own right.

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters

Grist to the mill; Bram De Jonghe, Stroom, The Hague

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The other day i visited Bram de Jonghe’s exhibition Grist to the Mill at Stroom.

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He attached a large transparent surface on a frame horizontally in the main room of the gallery.

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You can walk around it as far as possible.

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But all kinds of things are happening underneath.

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Around it are some objects, including one

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which is not blowing out a candle.

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And just under the surface a big flowering Verbascum, softly swaying in the wind, might invite you to take a look under the framework.

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A pencil becomes a symbol, for thoughts

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evoked by the things you see, or thoughts

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provoked to make this installation.

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Time to move on…

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In the basement of the gallery, you can walk from one thought to another. Is there or must there be a connection between them?

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They need the space around them, for, with the thoughts they create, they need a lot of space.

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There ‘s movement, creating, there are thought provoking objects.

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There are even some drawings as if reflected by or in the framework, which is also hanging over the basement.

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And time to move on again…..

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to see the end of the story, or the object of your quest.

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Is it a story? Is it a quest? If you want, it is. If you don’t, it isn’t.

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters

New Territory; Kasper Sonne at West gallery, The Hague

W 01 Kasper Sonne
I visited Kasper Sonne’s exhibition New Territory shortly after its opening at Gallery West.

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But as West’s own professional photographer happened to make pictures at that moment,

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it wasn’t a good idea to make pictures myself.

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So i had a short look around and

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promised to return later.

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As it happened, circumstances made it quite some time later.

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But happily it was just as interesting as it promised to be when visiting the first time.

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The exhibition tries to show, or to make happen the new territory of the mind that evolves when opposites meet and defy each other’s logic.

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The stones you see, are lava stones, coming from the depths of Mother Earth, but they are painted with spray paint.

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The two big white canvasses in the front room of the gallery, two artificial constructs, ready to be interpreted as something cultural and artistic, were burnt; one of the basic natural ways of destruction.

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Something comparable was made to happen with two blue paintings and acid. Strictly speaking these works are neither art nor something natural.

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But showing them in a “clean” way in this gallery forces the visitor to a new mindset, or a New Territory.

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Where two different logics are combined,

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the absurd is never far away

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That was already clear in the video with the carpet cleaner, in fact a loop taken from a commercial, and the noise, which doesn’t come from the cleaner.

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But in the side room Sonne shows three video’s, two of them with texts only.

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It’s Hegel’s dialectics.

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But if art turns into philosophy, it is an absurd philosophy.

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While in the middle video a perfect sphere falls and breaks into splinters.

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Hidden behind a veil is something very different:

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a work by Vincent Ganivet.

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He made a sculpture for the Grandeur exhibition at the Lange Voorhout and took the opportunity to make a small work for West.

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No glue or mortar were used in making this charming little sculpture.

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But back to Sonne.

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The stones are in all rooms of the gallery and together they are one work (Vulcan).

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As such these stones are probably visually his strongest work. Parts of the inner Earth, usually haphazardly strewn about the earth, they are now

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carefully arranged in a clean gallery, in a way that they direct your movements in the rooms and determine the way you are looking at the things around you.

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It’s New Territory.

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters

Memento mori – Damien Hirst in Dialogue with Rodolphe Bresdin and Odilon Redon; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

VAR 01 Willem van Konijnenburg

Honour the divine light in the revelations of art.” Well, let’s stick to that.

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On my way to the Vincent Award Room in the Gemeentemuseum i passed some Sol LeWitt murals which make it quite easy to honour the divine light.

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In the V.A. Room there is hardly any light to honour, let alone to make some proper pictures. But otherwise this is no room for complaining.

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The idea of the V.A. Room is to combine and confront works of the Monique Zajfen Collection with works from the Gemeentemuseum’s own collection.

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In this case some big photogravures coloured with gouache by Damien Hirst (1965) are confronted with etchings and an ink drawing by Rodolphe Bresdin (1822 – 1885) and some lithographs by Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916).

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The whole combination is exhibited under the name Memento mori.

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A long time ago i was a great admirer of Hirst’s works, but my admiration has been dwindling for the last two decades. But in spite of the reflections in the glass (or because of them) i must say i was impressed.

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Maybe i am too easily impressed, because after all it’s the usual skulls and butterflies, and a dark background to make it a bit spooky. But it works.

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The sense of refined luxuriousness in these works reminds you of the pomp and circumstance of old mausoleums of the high nobility. Now these works are purchased by the newly rich. But then again, it works.

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Bresdin is famous for his extremely detailed etchings. They are not confronted directly with Hirst’s works. They need other lighting and another way of looking.

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So, as other visitors took their time to inspect these etchings i went back to Hirst, looking death into its grinning face.

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And back again to Bresdin.

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The Hirsts are made to overwhelm you; the Bresdins are made to get lost in.

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The Redons are far less detailed.

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They are real fin de siècle works with

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death, horses and women posing in some mysterious dream space.

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This tiny drawing by Bresdin, small as a stamp, is the only work which is really confronting the big Hirsts.

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This decadence is intoxicating and

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yes, i can’t get enough of these reflections…

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But as usual there is always an end to the tunnel!
(And by the way: it’s a very nice exhibition!)

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(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters