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


Vormidable, Contemporary Flemish Sculpture; Museum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague

VBaZ 01

Museum Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures by the Sea) is one of the most interesting museums in The Hague and indeed in the country, for its robust architecture, its position along the coast, its Institute for Sculpture and above all – of course – for its interesting exhibitions of modern, postmodern and contemporary sculpture, objects and installations.

VBaZ 02 Sofie Muller

At present the Museum’s summer exhibition Vormidable with contemporary sculpture from Flanders is still on show, though its satellite exhibitions at Lange Voorhout (for pictures click here) and in A Gallery Named Sue (for pictures click here; for full review in Dutch click here) have finished already some weeks ago.

VBaZ 04 Panamarenko
VBaZ 05 Panamarenko

It is impossible to cover all aspects of this wonderful exhibition, so I just show you a few random pictures, but it would be better to take a look for yourself. Both well known and lesser known artists are democratically brought together in the great room of the museum. In that collection almost legendary Panamarenko is more or less hors concours, even with these modest models on show.

VBaZ 06 Honoré d'O

Honoré d’O’s works (also quite small ones in this show) make a good counterpoint to Panamarenko’s.

VBaZ 07 Renato Nicolodi
VBaZ 08 Renato Nicolodi

There is some imposing architecture reduced to an introvert object by Renato Nicolodi and

VBaZ 09 Johan Tahon

there are some works by Johan Tahon, both raw and angelic,

VBaZ 10 Sofie Muller
VBaZ 11 Sofie Muller

two sensitive sculptural installations by Sofie Muller and

VBaZ 13 Philip Aguirre y Otegui
VBaZ 14 Philip Aguirre y Otegui

there is this water carrier by Philip Aguirre y Otegui. These four artists were presented at the Lange Voorhout as well.

VBaZ 15 Caspar Berger

Do think before you take a seat on a bench by Caspar Berger!

VBaZ 16 Sven 't Jolle

Sven ‘t Jolle presents these figures who are playing Mens erger je niet (Hey, don’t fret). Or are the figures becoming the game?

VBaZ 18 Nadia Naveau
VBaZ 19 Nadia Naveau
VBaZ 20 Nadia Naveau

Nadia Naveau gives some samples of her work in which there is a strong connection with antiquity and post-postmodernity.

VBaZ 21 Nadia Naveau
VBaZ 22 Nadia Naveau
VBaZ 23 Nadia Naveau
VBaZ 24 Nadia Naveau

Her work is one of the great discoveries of the show.

VBaZ 25 Tinka Pittoors
VBaZ 26 Tinka Pittoors

Tinka Pittoors’ installation fits much better into this presentation than her other sculpture did at the Lange Voorhout.

VBaZ 27 Peter Rogiers

On the other hand this sculpture by Peter Rogiers on its own seems to be a bit out of context.

VBaZ 28 Nick Ervinck
VBaZ 29 Nick Ervinck

If you like intricate 3D design and printing with a bit of a spooky outlook the works of Nick Ervinck will surely impress you. It doesn’t really convince me.

VBaZ 30 Eva De Leener
VBaZ 31 Eva De Leener
VBaZ 32 Eva De Leener

Far simpler as a concept but much more significant are Eva De Leener’s sculptures.

VBaZ 33 Patrick Van Caeckenbergh
VBaZ 34 Patrick Van Caeckenbergh

One of my personal favourites is Patrick Van Caeckenbergh and his Cradle hits the mark again in more than one way.

VBaZ 35 Anton Cotteleer
VBaZ 36 Anton Cotteleer
VBaZ 37 Anton Cotteleer

Works by Anton Cotteleer were quite omnipresent in The Hague this summer as, apart from here, they were also on show at A Gallery Named Sue and Nouvelles Images gallery (click here for the pictures).

VBaZ 38 Peter Buggenhout
VBaZ 39 Peter Buggenhout

Peter Buggenhout specializes in sculptures that refuse to take a clear shape. They seem to defy all theories about the regularity of nature.

VBaZ 40 Berlinde De Bruyckere
VBaZ 41 Berlinde De Bruyckere

Of course Berlinde De Bruyckere’s work is also present. It is shown in rhyme with Buggenhout’s sculptures.

VBaZ 42 Wim Delvoye
VBaZ 43 Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye’s hilarious Rose des vents is present on one of the terraces of the museum.

VBaZ 44 Jan Fabre

However, the sad low point of the show is the presentation of Jan Fabre, who seems to be talking on and on with his shiny beetles, while he has nothing to say but boring clichés.

VBaZ 45 Wim Delvoye
VBaZ 46 Wim Delvoye

A smaller room of the museum shows models of more or less monumental works and projects.

VBaZ 47 Wim Delvoye
VBaZ 48 Wim Delvoye

Amongst others by Wim Delvoye,

VBaZ 49 Patrick Van Caeckenbergh

Patrick Van Caeckenbergh,

VBaZ 50 Renato Nicolodi

Renato Nicolodi and

VBaZ 51 Ruben Bellinkx

Ruben Bellinkx, who also showed an intriguing installation this summer at A Gallery Named Sue.

VBaZ 52
[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

Bertus Pieters

Vormidable, Contemporary Flemish Sculpture, Lange Voorhout and Kloosterkerk, The Hague


The present edition of the annual sculpture exhibition (under the auspices of Museum Beelden aan Zee) at the Lange Voorhout is a far better one than those of the last few years, in spite of it looking quite modest. The theme is sculptures from the Dutch speaking part of Belgium and it’s titled Vormidable (don’t mind the Dutch pun; vorm = form, shape).


There is a good variety of different aspects which seem to add to each other without giving the idea of a showcase of different and unrelated things. That’s quite an achievement, regarding the restricted possibilities for a sculpture show in this most lofty avenue.


On one end the exhibition opens (or ends) with a guardian angel by Johan Tahon. As with some other works of Tahon the angel is double headed. One could say that shows the split of each human being in a material and a spiritual personality. Tahon’s spirituality


is followed by representation in Wesley Meuris’ Entrance Kit for Sculpture Garden III. The information panel says: “Meuris’s intention is to show


that the link between past and present has been lost.” I think the opposite might as well be true, but it is undoubtedly a work in its proper place.


Sofie Muller’s Jesse might easily become one of the audience’s darlings. And in this case darlings shouldn’t be killed.


The boy with his trace of flowering begonias may even remind you of Hansel (from Gretel) who left a trace of pebbles to find his way home.


Leon Vranken deconstructed a decorated pedestal with wood

V 09 Leon Vranken

which may remind you of the transience of all seemingly stable things. And then,

V 10 Luk Van Soom
V 11 Luk Van Soom

far from the sea, there is Luk Van Soom’s high wave, both beautiful and dangerous.

V 12 Luk Van Soom
V 13 Luk Van Soom

Now it becomes clear why we need Tahon’s guardian angel.

V 14 Fred Eerdekens

Fred Eerdekens’ Landscape seems to be a bit

V 15 Fred Eerdekens

out of place at the Lange Voorhout in the shade of the green trees.

V 16 Tinka Pittoors
V 17 Tinka Pittoors

Tinka Pittoors’ White Migrant (Harry) seems to be a bit out of place here too.

V 18 Leo Copers
V 19 Leo Copers

For those who want to repent publicly there is Leo Copers’ VIPAG (Vrijwillige Individuele Publieke Automatische Gevangenis,

V 20 Leo Copers
V 21 Leo Copers

Voluntary Individual Public Automatic Jail). I haven’t seen anybody jailing him or herself publicly yet, but

V 22 Leo Copers
V 23 Leo Copers

the idea itself is a wonderful work about the absurdity of morals in our times of blaming and shaming.

V 24 Philip Aguirre y Otegui
V 25 Philip Aguirre y Otegui
V 26 Philip Aguirre y Otegui

Probably not accidentally near the prison is a fallen dictator by Philip Aguirre y Otegui. The dictator wasn’t on a very high plinth, so as a symbol of fallen power the sculpture is quite obscure.

V 27 Philip Aguirre y Otegui
V 28 Philip Aguirre y Otegui

Also obscure is his anonymity, one could think of any leader of the present or the past seeking the pinnacle of the lowest in human character.

V 29 Renato Nicolodi

Next to the dictator appropriately stands Scrinium 01 by Renato Nicolodi, an architectural model that

V 30 Renato Nicolodi

may remind you of the cold sternness of dictatorial architectural aesthetics of the 20th century.

V 31 Peter De Cupere
V 32 Peter De Cupere

According to the accompanying text the smell around Peter De Cupere’s Earth Car should remind us of the smell of the Tuscan countryside (more on Peter de Cupere on VND here) .

V 33 Peter De Cupere
V 34 Peter De Cupere

Well, it isn’t really an advertorial for Tuscany; the smell is almost sickening. But for the remainder it is again an installation in the best absurdist traditions (which is of course positive).

V 35 Caroline Coolen
V 36 Caroline Coolen

There is a sense of absurdity in Caroline Coolen’s Shepherd too (more on Caroline Coolen on VND here and on Villa La Repubblica here). The shepherd may remind you of the idealized shepherds of the 18th century in a time when high culture stood far from nature and reality,

V 37 Caroline Coolen

his fragmented state working both humorous and painful and his fragmented dog underscoring his predicament (according to the information panel it is a fox that could be a victim or a culprit). Another work by

V 38 Caroline Coolen
V 39 Caroline Coolen
V 40 Caroline Coolen
V 41 Caroline Coolen

Coolen is also fragmented and seems to be caught in a whirlwind, almost complementing Van Soom’s baroque high wave.

V 42 Peter Rogiers
V 43 Peter Rogiers
V 44 Peter Rogiers

Absurdism remains prevalent in Silver Cakespoons by Peter Rogiers. Few sculptures are as appropriate for this site as this strangely balancing tree.

V 45 Nick Ervinck
V 46 Nick Ervinck

LUIZAERC by Nick Ervinck was designed on a computer and printed with a 3D printer. Although the making process of a work like this is interesting (and i’m sure we’ll see a lot more 3D printing in future sculpture)

V 47 Nick Ervinck

the result isn’t much more than a big plasma-like doodle got out of hand and the opposition with the decorated pedestal is nice but nothing special.

V 48 Johan Creten

It is back to the sea again with Johan Creten’s humanized ray Octo in which different aspects are combined: the official monument on a pedestal, the showing of stuffed animals from the sea, the

V 49 Johan Creten
V 50 Johan Creten

idea of a sea monster, the upright stance of a human being, the human portrait, the dull lustre of a ray’s egg washed ashore and the patina of bronze.

V 51 Johan Creten
V 52 Johan Creten
V 53 Johan Creten

Creten is also responsible for Le grand vivisecteur, an owl with a seat which is an instantaneous public favourite and a good end to a well balanced public exhibition.

V 54 Johan Tahon
V 55 Johan Tahon
V 56 Johan Tahon
V 57 Johan Tahon
V 58 Johan Tahon

For those who are present before 4 pm there is more to be seen by Johan Tahon in the Kloosterkerk.

V 59 Johan Tahon
V 60 Johan Tahon
V 61 Johan Tahon
V 62 Johan Tahon
V 63 Johan Tahon

As you can see, Tahon’s sculptures are quite photogenic in the church.

V 64 Johan Tahon

There is also a video where you can see Tahon at work and where he is interviewed.

“I’ve got almost none of my own sculptures”

V 65 Johan Tahon

“I do have them in plaster, but i have no bronze casts of my own work”

V 66 Johan Tahon

“That’s all in rich people’s homes”

V 67 Johan Tahon

“I can’t afford having my own works in bronze”

V 68 Johan Tahon

“Which is a pity really”

V 69
(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters