Emo Verkerk, Love me or leave me; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

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Emo Verkerk’s (1955) portraits – now on show amongst other works in his retrospective exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum,

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The Hague – are a bit made like listening to music. By listening to it, music becomes your

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own thought or even a reflection of yourself. Listening to music can’t be anything else but an

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appropriation of what you hear. You may recognize your ideas, feelings, emotions or even personal remembrances in

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it. Music, when listening to it, becomes you, or you looking at you, or you looking to

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the world around you. I gather that’s more or less how Verkerk makes his works. His paintings,

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objects, sculptures and anything beyond or in between seem to be the products of listening. It is

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not just a matter of associating things that makes up Verkerk’s work, it is taking portraits as

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part of thinking. Persons become ideas or become remembrances. Birds play another role in his works. Like

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the portraits, they are more or less recognizable. Recognizable as particular species, that is. But, although they

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seem to have a function in the music, they are also outsiders, like messengers, a classical role

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of birds. Well, anyway, go and take a look yourself. Emo Verkerk’s exhibition is a welcome

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refuge from the crowded Rothko show on the second floor of the museum. I’d grant Rothko’s

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works the intimacy and reflective stillness (but also the music!) of this wonderful Verkerk presentation.

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[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

Bertus Pieters

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