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.
Robbert Pauwels, who likes using pedestals for his works and referring to classical and baroque sculpture,
appropriately took a passage from the novella Psyche to make his Psyche and Eros.
Couperus, as a real fin de siècle novelist, was refined and often described the tarnishing or decay of beauty. Geeske Harting was
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).
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.
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,
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[Click on the pictures to enlarge]