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Press release exhibition 4 National Collections & Hans Op de Beeck
On view from January 27 to May 5 at Kunsthal KAdE
This spring, Kunsthal KAdE will show a large selection of objects from the CollectionCentrum Netherlands (CC NL), located in Amersfoort, in combination with large sculptures by Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck. CC NL houses the collections of the Rijksmuseum, Paleis Het Loo, Nederlands Openluchtmuseum and the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. The colorfulness and diversity of the four national collections, in conjunction with Op de Beeck's monochrome gray work, creates new stories. The artist chose fourteen of his sculptures and devised themes for them that served as a starting point for the selection of the depot pieces: childlike innocence, horsemen/travelers, life on the water, celebration, the vanitas motif and the wonder room. In a seventh room, he combines ten of his child/human figures with figure sculptures from the four collections.
Hans Op de Beeck (Turnhout,1969) has made a name for himself in recent decades with realistic images all toned in the same gray - 'Dusty Grey'. With this, the artist effectively abstracts all the objects he has chosen - often from everyday life - which, as a result, all come to be on the same 'level,' hierarchy-less. A plastic cup or a piece of fruit next to a piece of coral or an African mask. Human figures in all sorts of poses next to complete interiors. Everything is "equal. Op de Beeck does not strive to simulate reality in his work, but wants to evoke a mood that touches on the essence under the skin of reality. Through the very limited - often monochrome - palette, he reduces the anecdotal nature of fully colored reality to a more silent, homogeneous whole.
The image the artist chose for "Childlike Innocence" is a girl sleeping on a raft in a circle full of water lilies. "There is that turning point when, as children, we lose our innocence about life and being human. The realization seeps in that there are dark sides to existence: we become aware of manipulation, deceit, suffering, injustice, disappointment, malicious intent... The naivety, the purity of how we still were in our early childhood thus acquires an exceptional status in our reflection on our life course," Hans Op de Beeck said. The girl is combined with child portraits from the various collections, among others. These include photographs of 8-year-old girls - taken by Céline van Baalen - from the Rijksmuseum, eighteenth-century pastels of the Van Boetzelaar children, drawn by Pierre Frédéric de la Croix (Cultural Heritage Agency) and youth portraits of the Royal Family from Paleis Het Loo.
In the cabinet of travelers, the sculpture "The Horseman" (a man with parasol on a horse, his "luggage" a collection of mysterious scientific objects) is surrounded by, among others, a portrait of Frederik Hendrik on horseback from Paleis Het Loo, wall tiles and a cookie board from the Dutch Open Air Museum and paintings by Marius Bauer (a long-term loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency to the Dordrecht Museum), Philips Wouwerman (Rijksmuseum) and Karel Dujardin (Rijksmuseum). "Being on the road is more important than the arrival. The arrival has something of a decision in it, a completion, a conclusion, an end point. But when you are on the road, everything flows, there is improvisation, unexpected elements pop up, possibilities remain open," Op de Beeck said.
A large seascape by Charles-François Daubigny serves as the background for the sculpture "The Boatman" in the cabinet that revolves around "life on the water. A man punts through the water with a rowboat loaded with baskets full of food and provisions. Hans Op de Beeck: "The sea is an utterly timeless metaphor for infinity, reflection, gazing literally and figuratively at the horizon, at what may lie ahead, but also at what is elusive. Water is often present in my work; it can be turbulent, wild and savage, but also gently rippling, reflective and supremely soothing. In our lives, we navigate these diverse varieties and seek the horizon each time, although it remains unattainable and ever shifting." Other items in the room include plaques for a safe journey from the Dutch Open Air Museum, seascapes from the various collections and so-called "Bavelaartjes," small cabinets containing a three-dimensional scene created by Cornelis Bavelaar (Open Air Museum).
Cabinet of Curiosity
The fourth cabinet revolves around the "Cabinet of Curiosity," the primal variety of collections (and thus the origin of museums). Hans Op de Beeck has been creating cabinets for years, in which he combines a motley collection of objects. "By bringing together objects with references to the most diverse historical periods, cultural backgrounds and styles, something fascinating emerges, a completely new whole of meaning as it were. I like to do that according to free association, intuitively, without a predetermined plan. As a result, the most banal objects can suddenly become something very special." Next to Op de Beeck's cabinets is a cabinet with special objects from the four collections, from glass and ceramics to jewelry, apothecary's utensils and a special collection of anthropological "souvenirs" from the Holy Land, brought back in the mid-nineteenth century by the travel-loving Princess Marianne (William I's only daughter).
In "Celebration," a dancer of the Brazilian carnival sits in a padded armchair. All around her is partying in photographs, paintings and drawings. "Every conceivable occasion seems to man sufficient reason to celebrate. The party is a moment of intoxication in which we can forget everything for a moment. The emptiness after the party, on the other hand, can be soberingly melancholy. When we remove the kitschy party colors and show a dancer in a moment when she is not in the spotlight, she lets go of her obligatory smile and takes time for herself, a portrait of a vulnerable human being emerges in which we can easily recognize ourselves." In addition to the work "The Dancer," Op de Beeck will also screen a film about a slightly melancholy party situation in Argentina.
Finally, the motif "Vanitas" is given its content by a life-size carousel, placed in the main hall. All the people have been replaced by skeletons (the animals, however, are simply in their skins). This "Danse Macabre" is a reminder of mortality. "(...) In the immensity of the universe and the infinity of time, a human life is unbearably light. But that realization can also just put the weight of the world into perspective," Hans Op de Beeck said. The carousel is combined with a wall full of vanitas motifs in drawings and on paintings. Among them is an absurdist etching from the Rijksmuseum of skeletons warming themselves by a stove, drawn by James Ensor, Op de Beeck's compatriot.
The Human figure
About the combination of his own sculptures and sculptures from the four collections in the seventh room, the artist says: "A set of images of the human figure, all frozen in a quiet moment of concentration, rest, meditation, small wonder or play, with eyes closed or sunk in an inward gaze, invites us to pause and reflect on being human, our growing pains, our awkwardness but also the beauty of being able to be serenely 'alone but not lonely. The unspectacular representation of a child, a man, a woman in an everyday, small pose allows identification, a way to mentally put oneself in another and lets you find what connects us as human beings, not what separates us."
Second location: Elleboogkerk
In addition to the exhibition at Kunsthal KAdE, Hans Op de Beeck conceived a new "experiential installation" for the Elleboogkerk on Langegracht in Amersfoort, as he has created several in a wide variety of locations over the past twenty years. Each time this involves the creation of an enigmatic place with an architectural and landscape dimension, inviting the viewer to find silence and a timeless moment of reflection and calm. Although these staged places are undeniably unreal, often surreal-looking or absurd, they can create an authentic experience for the receptive viewer. In Amersfoort, this is a water-winter landscape with a horizon. "Water not only reflects in a literal sense, but figuratively stimulates reflection, the reflective, contemplative thinking about being and the world."
CollectionCentre Netherlands: the building
The diversity in the range of objects on loan reflects the wealth of treasures stored in the collection center. The site above Amersfoort was chosen in part because the land there is 2.5 meters above sea level, making it less vulnerable to rising (ground) water. The 31,500 m2 building, designed by Cepezed Architects, meets the most modern climate and safety requirements, has two large restoration studios, cold stores, workshops, a photography room and a large transport zone for packaging and preparing works of art for transport. One of the largest depots houses carriages and even an immense barrel organ. A total of nearly 25,000 m2 of painting racks (6 kilometers in length) and 19 kilometers of shelf space are located in the 39 depots. The building meets the highest standards of sustainability.
At Kunsthal KAdE, from Jan. 27 an exhibition of sculptures by Hans Op de Beeck (Turnhout,1969) in combination with collection pieces from the Netherlands Collection Center (CC NL) in Amersfoort. Here, since 2021, the collections of the Rijksmuseum, Paleis Het Loo, the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum and the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) have been stored under state-of-the-art conditions. Hans Op de Beeck chose fourteen of his sculptures and came up with themes that served as starting points for the selection of depot pieces: childlike innocence, horsemen/travelers, life on water, celebration, the vanitas motif and the wonder room. In a seventh room, he combines ten of his child/human figures with figure sculptures from the four collections. In addition to the exhibition at Kunsthal KAdE, Hans Op de Beeck conceived a new "experience installation" for the Elleboogkerk on Langegracht in Amersfoort, as he has created several in a wide variety of locations over the past twenty years.
About Hans Op de Beeck
Hans Op de Beeck (Turnhout,1969) is a Belgian visual artist who lives and works in Anderlecht (Brussels). For about twenty years he has been building an international exhibition career.
Hans Op de Beeck makes large installations, sculptures, films, drawings, paintings, photographs and texts. His work is a reflection on our complex society and the universal questions about meaning and mortality that resonate within it. He sees man as a being who stages the world around him in tragicomic ways. Above all, Op de Beeck wants to stimulate the viewer's senses and invite them to truly experience the image. He tries to create a form of visual fiction that provides a moment of wonder and silence. In 2022 and 2019, he directed an opera for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in Ghent.
Op de Beeck had solo museum exhibitions in such places as: Helsinki (2023), St. Petersburg (2021), Hokkaido (2019), Tel Aviv (2019), Wolfsburg (2017) and Toulouse (2016).