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


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