Anima mundi; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Erzsébet Baerveldt, Pietà

Where does human life start and where does it end?

Erzsébet Baerveldt, Pietà

Johan Tahon, Sacrifice

Johan Tahon, Sacrifice

The answer to that question seems to be obvious enough: it starts with birth and it ends with death.

Anonymous, Nkisi nkondi

Anonymous, Nkisi nkondi

Anonymous, Christ at the Whipping Post

Michaël Borremans, The Angel

But our spirit is able to animate dead matter, and if it doesn’t do so physically it tries to do so spiritually.

Michaël Borremans, The Angel

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Into One-Another II To P.P.P.

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Into One-Another II To P.P.P.

We try to grasp life and death in scientific, philosophical, religious, spiritual and artistic ways.

Michel Nedjar, Untitled, Doll

Melanie Bonajo, Matrix Botanica – Biosphere above Nations

Melanie Bonajo, Matrix Botanica – Biosphere above Nations

Desirée Dolron, Vegetarian Festival Thailand

Where are the differences between science and ritual, between description and imagination, between a Congolese nkisi figure and a robot?

Desirée Dolron, Xteriors VIII

Anonymous, Kawe

Reynold Reynolds, Secret Machine

Or are there no real differences?

Reynold Reynolds, Secret Machine

David Altmejd, Delicate Man Contemplating Options

David Altmejd, Delicate Man Contemplating Options

David Altmejd, Delicate Man Contemplating Options

Hans van der Ham (1960) has curated a wonderful and very full summer exhibition in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam with works and objects varying from robots to Medieval and Renaissance paintings.

Paul de Reus, Doll

Boston Dynamics, Testing Robustness

Boston Dynamics, Testing Robustness

Per room the show is arranged in different chapters.

Boston Dynamics, Testing Robustness

Jeantine Lunshof, Eswar Iyer, Mark Skyler-Scott, Brain organoid

Jeantine Lunshof, Eswar Iyer, Mark Skyler-Scott, Brain organoid

Inez van Lamsweerde, Final Fantasy Series, Wendy

It tries to avoid the sentimental aspects of life and death but instead focuses on the way we try to harness or control life apart from physical human life, and in doing so create different aesthetics.

Head in formaldehyde

Baby in formaldehyde


Augustijn Claterbos

As such aesthetics has become a matter of life and death.

Augustijn Claterbos

Augustijn Claterbos

Berlinde De Bruyckere

This is surely one of the most inspired and inspiring thematic exhibitions of the season.

Anonymous, Uramun

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2018

Content of all photographs courtesy to the owners of the works and to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Bertus Pieters

The Ebony Tower at Nouvelles Images Gallery, The Hague


In summer many galleries take a break and are closed, but Nouvelles Images has a summer exhibition, this time curated by Hans van der Ham who chose some artists, not necessarily connected to the gallery. The show is aptly named The Ebony Tower. It is a fine show full of imagination.


One of the artists is Aldwin van de Ven who made this wintery landscape. In the snowy mountains a (young?) couple is walking and


there is also a cross, maybe a grave, but where from are you watching them?


In this painting by British artist Robert Nicol you may wonder what these persons are looking for and in whose honour that funny statue is.

NIs 05 Marie Aly
NIs 06 Marie Aly
NIs 07 Marie Aly

Another painter with a sense of both humour and the surreal is German Marie Aly

NIs 08 Aldwin van de Ven

while Van de Ven portrays himself as a carpenter with the right eye.

NIs 09 Hans van der Ham
NIs 10 Hans van der Ham

Van der Ham shows works of his own as well, amongst which this figure full of wonder.

NIs 11 Robert Nicol

It is not clear which way these figures by Nicol will send you or from what world they themselves are coming.

NIs 12 Robert Nicol

Anyway, following the direction of the pointing finger,

NIs 13 Marie Aly

you may meet Aly’s Hungarian woman,

NIs 14 Marie Aly


NIs 15 Marie Aly
NIs 16 Marie Aly

maybe even too exquisite.

NIs 17 Rens Krikhaar

Rens Krikhaar is also part of the gang, always looking for the sublime and

NIs 18 Rens Krikhaar

the monstrous, the extravagant and death, while

NIs 19 Oskar Nisson

in Swedish painter Oskar Nilsson’s work death is the only end to all humour.

NIs 20 Anton Cotteleer
NIs 21 Anton Cotteleer
NIs 22 Anton Cotteleer

Works by Belgian sculptor Anton Cotteleer are more or less omnipresent in The Hague at the moment,

NIs 23 Anton Cotteleer
NIs 24 Anton Cotteleer
NIs 25 Anton Cotteleer
NIs 26 Anton Cotteleer

as they are also on show in A Gallery Named Sue (see here and here).

NIs 27 Christian Henkel

Something is being kept behind the mountain (hinterm Berg) in

NIs 28 Christian Henkel

this great improvisational sculpture by German artist Christian Henkel,

NIs 29 Christian Henkel

or maybe this is what is behind the mountain, but

NIs 30 Rens Krikhaar

as far as Krikhaar is concerned there is always a lot behind the mountain

NIs 31 Rens Krikhaar

and he is always prepared to show you, even

NIs 32 Rens Krikhaar

if you give up a few things, chasing a dream (it’s Krikhaar at his best again).

NIs 33 Hans van der Ham
NIs 34 Hans van der Ham

There seems to be another way of chasing dreams in this great sculpture by Van der Ham, while

NIs 35 Marie Aly
NIs 36 Marie Aly

another sharp eyed lady by Aly is watching.

NIs 37 Anton Cotteleer

From that point there is also a good view on Cotteleer’s sculpture, showing the improbable, if not the impossible.

NIs 38 Hans van der Ham

Passing along another great sculpture by Van der Ham

NIs 39 Robert Nicol

you may find yourself in a Great Exhibition. Well, weren’t you already?

NIs 40 Henk Visch
NIs 41 Henk Visch

Adding to this Great Exhibition are certainly this trio of guards by Henk Visch.

NIs 42 Henk Visch

It seems to be only a small jump from these one armed bandits to

NIs 43 Hans van der Ham
NIs 44 Hans van der Ham

the more or less surreal works by Van der Ham who also shows pictures.

NIs 45 Rens Krikhaar

Krikhaar offers a moment of contemplation on a poet’s mountain (Goethe or Heine would say it is Mount Brocken in the Harz Mountains)., and

NIs 46 Robert Nicol

if you love Wandern after that, Nicol will show you how to deal with a cucumber on a picknick.

NIs 47 Marie Aly

Aly brings an ode to the recently discovered Lesula monkey and

NIs 48 Marie Aly
NIs 49 Marie Aly

to Freddy probably Mercury.

NIs 50 Henk Visch

Visch shows some drawings.

NIs 51 Oskar Nisson
NIs 52 Oskar Nisson
NIs 53 Oskar Nisson

Again, in Nilsson’s paintings humour ends in raucous laughter,

NIs 54 Hans van der Ham

opposed by Van der Ham’s silent dog and man. Will they ever get closer to each other?

NIs 55 Anton Cotteleer

In the corridor some small sculptures are shown by Cotteleer

NIs 56 Hans van der Ham
NIs 57 Hans van der Ham

and Van der Ham, while

NIs 58 Robert Nicol

in the front gallery Nicol summarizes it all in a Duchampian painting and

NIs 59 Anton Cotteleer

Cotteleer brings a sacrifice. Van der Ham has made an exciting exhibition full of wonder, humour and a good dose of surrealism. There is a lot more on show, so hurry to see i!. Next Saturday is the last day of the exhibition.

NIs 60 Hans van der Ham
(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters