A Blue Room, Quartair, The Hague


At Quartair eight artists were invited to reflect artistically on quotations from the oeuvre of Louis Couperus (1863-1923), one of the greatest novelists in the Dutch language. The artists were free to choose from Couperus’ works.


Wieteke Heldens chose from The Tour (Antiek toerisme) and Ecstacy (Extaze), collected from these texts all words indicating a colour and tried to reproduce them in two paintings.

EBK 05 Robbert Pauwels

Robbert Pauwels, who likes using pedestals for his works and referring to classical and baroque sculpture,

EBK 07 Robbert Pauwels
EBK 08 Robbert Pauwels

appropriately took a passage from the novella Psyche to make his Psyche and Eros.

EBK 09 Geeske Harting

Couperus, as a real fin de siècle novelist, was refined and often described the tarnishing or decay of beauty. Geeske Harting was

EBK 10 Geeske Harting

clearly inspired by that element in her surprising diptych Spleen with withering violets, which she based on parts of About me and others (Van en over mijzelf en anderen).

EBK 11 Astrid Nobel
EBK 12 Astrid Nobel

Astrid Nobel chose three passages from Metamorphosis (Metamorfoze) for her work Niet meer hetzelfde (Not the same anymore, based on the quote “It was the same as what had been and still: not the same anymore”) and she combines different other elements of the text in it.

EBK 13 Tim Breukers
EBK 14 Tim Breukers

Vert de l’abîme (sorry to say, but it is vertige de l’abîme) by Tim Breukers is based on a trifle called The binoculars (De binocle) about an opera visitor who, sitting high in a balcony seat,

EBK 15 Tim Breukers
EBK 16 Tim Breukers

can hardly resist throwing his opera glasses on a bald head deep down in the opera hall during a Walküre staging. Indeed Breukers creates a real abîme with a leftover of his visit to the top, where he could have… might have….

EBK 17 Hans Hoekstra

Hans Hoekstra’s painting Van Oudijcks val (Van Oudijck’s Fall) is based on the final part of the novel The Hidden Force (De stille kracht) where a high officer in the colonial Dutch East Indies, Van Oudijck, a man with phlegmatic Dutch authority, is worn out completely by the country and its magic.

EBK 18 Hans Hoekstra

Although the theme is clear in the otherwise attractive painting, I don’t really see the link to the story in particular to Van Oudijck.

EBK 19 Selma van Panhuis
EBK 20 Selma van Panhuis

Selma van Panhuis had herself inspired by a passage from Footsteps of Fate (Noodlot) with one of the novel’s protagonists thinking about his mistrust of human intuition.

EBK 21 Selma van Panhuis
EBK 22 Selma van Panhuis

Surely Van Panhuis shows the power of intuition which is part of her work and as such she shows you can’t escape from fate.

EBK 23 Pim Voorneman
EBK 24 Pim Voorneman
EBK 25 Pim Voorneman

Pim Voorneman shows in his installation Pièce de milieu, based on a passage from Ecstacy, the sensuousness of objects in a stifling bourgeois interior as it is often described by Couperus in his great novels.

Geeske Harting

Geeske Harting

Altogether this is a very fine exhibition curated within a very original framework, appropriately staged in The Hague, as Couperus often described the upper middle class of The Hague in his books.

Astrid Nobel

Astrid Nobel

There is an audio tour available in which you can hear all relevant passages from Couperus’ books as read by Philip Peters. Alas, it is in Dutch only, but hearing Peters pronounce all the different colours for Heldens’ paintings must be a feast to anyone’s ears.

EBK 28
[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

Bertus Pieters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.