Folkert de Jong, The Player and Dutch Mechanisms, The Hague

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The Hague has two sculptures in public space by Folkert de Jong. I visited both to write a review about them for Villa La Repubblica. Click here to read the review (in Dutch).

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The first one is called The Player and was commissioned for a square where people can sit and children can play.

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It was placed in 2014.

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De Jong based The Player on a court jester,

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the one who could ridicule everything and everybody including the highest in power,

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but who was also tolerated and protected by the highest in power.

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That gives The Player a more or less ambiguous character.

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Though it has lost much of its original colour in two years time, it is still a powerful image.

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The other work was placed only this month in the town centre and is called Dutch Mechanisms.

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He based the sculpture on the bloodthirsty and orgiastic murder of Dutch statesman Johan de Witt and his brother by an Orangist mob in 1672, linking the murder to present day populism and abuse of power.

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He used a 3D copy of a tongue and of a finger of the brothers, still preserved at The Hague Historical Museum.

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Dutch Mechanisms is part of the public Sculpture gallery in the town centre.

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Contents of the pictures courtesy Folkert de Jong

 

Bertus Pieters

Façades of The Hague #12

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Sculpture by André van Lier (1951), made in 1978 and placed in 1980 in the Florence Nightingalepark along Florence Nightingaleweg.

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When I saw the sculpture in March this year a mother was helping her toddler climbing it.

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When she saw me watching, she looked a bit ashamed and she said she wasn’t sure if it was a climbing frame for children or maybe a work of art.

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There is an orange coloured graffiti on top of the work and it clearly needs some maintenance.

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[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

All pictures taken in March 2016

 

Bertus Pieters

Brasil, Beleza?!, Lange Voorhout, The Hague

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This year’s sculpture show on Lange Voorhout, organized by Museum Beelden aan Zee, exhibits works by Brazilian artists.

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There are only eleven works by ten artists, some of them quite big, which is a good choice as it reduces the influence of non-artistic objects in this chic avenue.

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Some of the sculptures have a non-too-deep-digging feel-good mentality, like OPAVIVARÁ by the Namoita collective, and

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Empate by Marcius Galan. In this last work fraternity in sports is symbolised, but one might doubt if any ball could pass through these rings.

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Other works try to show more of the daily realities in the life of common Brazilians, like Espaço Entre by Marcelo Cidade with graffiti turned outside-in,

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Flags by João Loureiro that show cheques of different Brazilian banks, that is if there is some wind to make the flags fly,

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Tower Tamariu by Héctor Zamora, an ode to the hard and heavy labour man has to perform individually in order to build a living, and

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Academia by Marcos Chaves, a kind of replica of the kind of sports schools that are built by Brazilians in public space with makeshift materials.

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Some works reflect on Brazilian cultural history and its ties with Western Europe like Adriana Varejão’s Panacea Phantastica which shows the idea of Portuguese azulejos decorated with Brazilian medicinal herbs and plants, or

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In the corner of life by Ernesto Neto which shows the Brazilian answer to European and North American modernism.

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There are only three works that have no clear connection at first sight to Brazil as a country or as a culture, they are Adrift by Valeska Soares,

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Muro by Eduardo Coimbra

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and Animal nature by Neto which is both robust and elegant.

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Curators Carolyn Drake and Alessandra Laitempergher have made a well balanced choice and an agreeable public show on Lange Voorhout. Three works are favourite, as far as i am concerned. There are Zamora’s cargo bikes which show both the lightness and heaviness of life itself.

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Coimbra’s wall-on-wheels gives an intriguing alternative for something that usually looks quite definitive.

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My top favourite however is Soares’ Adrift which expands into the air if you are standing on it. Click here to read the article i wrote about it for Villa La Repubblica (in Dutch).

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[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

Contents of  all pictures courtesy the artists and Museum Beelden aan Zee

 

Bertus Pieters

Two monuments in Rotterdam

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The city centre of Rotterdam has two magnificent monuments that have to do with the destruction of the city by the Germans during WW II and the reconstruction after the war.

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Ossip Zadkine’s 1951 sculpture The Devastated City was donated by department store De Bijenkorf to the City of Rotterdam in 1953.

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Presently it is a state monument.

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In spite of its modernity it is a generally accepted and much respected monument.

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Apart from that, by accepting the donation in the 1950s the City of Rotterdam also affirmed its modernist agenda for the reconstruction of the city.

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It was repaired and restored in 2005/2007.

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Naum Gabo’s 1950s sculpture was bought by De Bijenkorf department store and placed next to it in 1957.

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It has served as a monument to the modernist reconstruction of the city ever since.

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It is the biggest public constructivist monument in the world and in spite of its size it is a very elegant one.

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However, since the last two decades it is in urgent need of repair, as it is rusting away.

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The present owners IEF Capital and Bouwfonds are not willing to repair it as they think the municipality should also contribute financially, which it refuses.

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Nobody seems to be able or willing to break the deadlock.

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As such the dilapidating master piece has become a monument for present society where there is plenty of money but nobody wants to spend it on something non-lucrative.

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[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

 

Bertus Pieters

MVRDV & Arno Coenen, Market Hall, Rotterdam

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Here you see Sint Laurenskerk (St. Lawrence church; Rotterdam’s only remnant of medieval architecture) mirrored in the façade of the new Market Hall.

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The Market Hall was opened in 2014 and was designed by MVRDV.

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It contains apartments, a market, pubs, restaurants and an underground car park.

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Every era has its temples or cathedrals and this is one for our own post-postmodern, consumerist society.

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Those who can afford it, buy their ways of life and those who can’t, can only stare in awe at the colossal mural, designed by Arno Coenen, called Horn Of Plenty.

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Indeed Coenen has given it the almost religious power of frescoed ceilings of Baroque churches.

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The idea is that you can worship nature as the predominating power of life and destination, while buying articles or just thinking about that.

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To be honest, the murals are marvelous, they really are.

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Somewhere in this abundance the tower of Sint Laurenskerk looms, giving the design an idea of timelessness.

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[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

 

Bertus Pieters

Frank Bruggeman and Hans Engelbrecht, The New Garden; Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

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Last year Het Nieuwe Instituut (The New Institute) has given its garden space to artist Frank Bruggeman and horticulturalist Hans Engelbrecht.

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Bruggeman is interested in the integration of the cultural and the natural in the world of plants and found a good partner in ecological gardener Engelbrecht; together they created The New Garden.

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They have created a kind of wasteland where all kinds of flowers are flowering in spring, both “wild” and cultivated, or anything in between.

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The garden is also a meeting place with benches and tables, a ping-pong table and  huts made of branches.

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A wild mix of nature and culture creates a space that will be familiar to anyone grown up in a new suburb (like me).

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Now, after a year, It is a place of wonder and surprises that “normal hard working people” are usually immune to.

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[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

 

Bertus Pieters