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Curated by Ian Lynam
Artists: Chris Ro, Gail Swanlund, Ian Lynam, Laura Rossi Garcia, Matthew Monk and Randy Nakamura
Alphabetum VII: Writing Writing

Writing Writing explores the connotative and the denotative through writing (e.g: literature) and writing (e.g.: composition). The presentation will include six new presentations by designers, writers, artists and critics, conjuring lyrical/poetic form both in text and how it is concocted. Writing Writing is conceived by Ian Lynam, who is working at the intersection of graphic design, design education and design research, and who is faculty at the Temple University Japan, Vermont College of Fine Arts USA, and CalArts USA.

With Ian Lynam, Matthew Monk, Randy Nakamura, Chris Ro, Laura Rossi Garcia and Gail Swanlund

The Alphabetum is an artistic space which explore the formative and formal aspect of (written) language and to show their underlying contingency. One emerges of the other: a letter is a letter, because it looks like a letter; and when something looks like a letter, it becomes a letter. Due to the self-evidence of written language and letters, we mostly overlook this important connection. This can even happen to people who deal with letters on a professional level. Typographers and type designers are primarily focused on the letterforms whereas writers do not see the forms of the letters they use to make their words visible. Despite the fact that we are all dealing with letters on a daily basis, we hardly notice the letters which are manifesting the languages in which we exist.
The Alphabetum aims to sensitise its audience to the phenomena of signs and written language through exhibition projects and events, to reveal the essential meanings of our ‘culture of writing’.

Artists: Bob Bonies, Cor van Dijk and others
Bob Bonies en Cor van Dijk

Using only green, white, and the primary colours, Bonies uses colour specifically to create a strong element of spatiality in his paintings. In his work, there is a focus on the extent to which an image can be reduced without losing its suspense and intrigue.

Van Dijk’s steel sculptures are highly geometrical and simplistic in shape. The pieces of steel are cut to perfectly fit into one another, combining to form one object. The nature of Van Dijk’s works makes the viewer continuously switch their attention between the space taken up by the sculpture, and the space that the sculpture leaves empty.

In response to the Corona crisis and the necessary and restrictive measurements, West is making its program accessible to all people staying at home with the section Thuistezien (dutch for watch at home).

With Thuistezien the institution wants to contribute to the quality of life in this serious situation. By means of a daily video, publication, report or column, the institution aims to soften the stay at home with a moment of imagination and reflection. For suggestions and reactions you can contact us via: thuisblijven@westdenhaag.nl.

See everything here:
https://www.westdenhaag.nl/thuistezien

until 10 Jan
Artist: Brigitte Louter
Brigitte Louter

In the former Ondertussen space Brigitte Louter presents the progress of her comprehensive project aimed at breaking the world record for the world's longest yardstick. Her plan is to present this yardstick in The Hague's public space during an event for those interested in the subject and casual passers-by.

For Brigitte Louter, world records are a wonderful way for an individual to relate to the world at large, through one small and futile action (well-trained or not).

The yardstick can be seen as a symbol for man's attempts to understand the world through one tiny action. Laying a standardized measure next to one's surroundings in order to get a better grip on life. In this way the project is also an investigation of man's attempts to construct, measure, predict and explain a world that often does not relate to our deep-seated desire for order and simplicity.

In 2019 Brigitte Louter received a PRO Invest subsidy to encourage and further develop her work and artistic practice.

Artists: Paul van der Eerden and Romy Muijrers
Paul van der Eerden, Romy Muijrers: SUITE

Paul van der Eerden (1954) and Romy Muijrers (1990) started their collaborative project ‘Suite’ in 2018. Either Van der Eerden of Muijrers starts with a first outline or stain on the paper that is elaborated upon by the other in several sessions, until the drawing is completed. Muijrers has a more detailed and soft approach, Van der Eerden adds sharp outlines and texts. The images vary from landscapes, plants, human figures to texts, some very detailed, others more simple and outspoken. They often convey a dreamlike state or mental image that has to be deciphered. The texts used are quotes from poetry and literature of among others Li Po, Han Shan, Kathleen Rain, William Blake but also popsongs from Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, The Hollies or Radiohead.

maximum 2 persons at a time, ring doorbell first

Norbert Schwontkowski – Everyone Wants to Go Home

Norbert Schwontkowski (1949-2013) is perhaps one of Germany’s best kept secrets. Yet these days his poetic work is gradually attracting more and more admirers outside his homeland. Inspired by Zen Buddhism, which he discovered on trips to Asia, he would seek the aesthetic of the moment, creating work that seems to touch upon a story, without ever telling us how it ends. Sometimes his paintings have a deep existential theme, and sometimes they present absurd situations from daily life, like a man rifling through the fridge in the middle of the night, looking for something to still his rumbling stomach. But the subject is always an individual in search of enlightenment and inspiration in a grim world. Thanks to Schwontkowski’s dry humour his work is never depressing, however. He often prepared by making quick pen sketches in the sketchbook he always carried with him. Everyone Wants to Go Home brings together some 80 paintings and over 40 sketchbooks from international collections, and has been created in collaboration with Kunstmuseum Bonn and Kunsthalle Bremen, where it was shown previously.

until 31 Jan
Curated by Marie-José Sondeijker
Artist: Gregor Schneider
Tote Räume

West Den Haag is thrilled to announce Tote Räume, Gregor Schneider‘s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands. Acknowledged as a groundbreaking artistic proposition, Schneider’s work can be regarded also as prophetic in a time of mandatory social distancing since it is based on mechanisms of physical isolation. Unfolding a sequence of rooms, sculptures, human figures, photos and videos spanning four decades of radical art making, the exhibition is arranged in response to, and exchange with, the original function of its building as the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands from 1959 until 2018.

A clear example to this exchange is the ‘Interrogation Room’ – a pristine room replicating one of the prison cell modules in Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp, the U.S. detention facility located on Cuba’s southeastern coast. When incorporated into the setting of West Den Haag ‘Interrogation Room’ exceeds the boundaries of the aesthetic field and acquires the status of a real authoritarian space, outlining the exercise of power over the visitors and the potential violation of their bodily sovereignty.
Also included in the current sequence is ‘Cold Storage Cell’, which joins ‘Interrogation Room’ to politically contextualize Schneider’s continuous experiments in sensory deprivation and practices of stealth interrogation and clean torture, intermittently conducted throughout his entire oeuvre.
With the display of ‘Cryo-Tank Phoenix 3’ Schneider’s conception of sealed-off spaces extends beyond the political-jurisdictional framework provided by West Den Haag and obtains a metaphysical sense, turning every site in which it emerges into an intermediary zone situated between life and death, between this world and the world to come. A separate section in the exhibition is dedicated to ‘Geburtshaus Goebbels’, which involves the actual building in Mönchengladbach-Rheydt where Joseph Goebbels—the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany—was born. In ‘Geburtshaus Goebbels’ Schneider traces the roots of Nazi history almost literally, uncovering the physical foundations of Goebbels’ birthplace—the origins of his origins. Within Schneider’s universe ‘Geburtshaus Goebbels’ is also a follower of ‘Haus u r’, the artist’s own site of origin, standing a short distance away from it. ‘Haus u r’ is the name Schneider gave to the abandoned residential building, which he occupied from 1985 until 2001, all the while ceaselessly reconstructing its inner structure as an idiosyncratic typology of visceral rooms built inside the house’s preexisting rooms (with windows in front of windows, walls in front of walls, etc.). Being realized through a process of self-consuming duplication—whereby each room is also the concealed room into which it was inserted, and the space—the difference—between them—makes ‘Haus u r’ an enduring experience of cognitive dissonance in relation to which presence and absence, construction and elimination, are no longer distinguishable from one another.

In the context of the exhibition a series of performances will be staged specifically for the occasion. Additionally to the project ‘Tote Räume’ West will organise an international symposium in November of this year. With the working title: ‘Gregor Schneider: Kunst im Kopf’.

Gregor Schneider (Germany, 1969) is cosidered one of the most influential artists of the last three decades. Since the end of the 1990s Schneider has been presenting solo exhibitions in leading museums around the world, including, among many others, Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, Museun of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Museo d’Arte Contemporena Roma. In 2001 Schneider won the Golden Lion award in the Venice Biennale of Art, and from then on his work is the subject of worldwide discussions and controversies. Schneider’s practice is an intersection between architecture, sculpture, and performance, intervening in the fabric of material, social and historical reality.

Artist: Jos van Merendonk
PP-17 The community of the painted

“Every event which has really been painted – so that the pictorial language opens – joins the community of everything else that has been painted. Potatoes on a plate join the community of a loved woman, a mountain, or a man on the cross.”
– John Berger, “Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8–1543)”, Portraits: John Berger on Artists

Jos van Merendonk does not base his paintings on the observable reality of the world around us. His works materialise out of the reality of his studio. He constructs them out of a limited number of forms. He paints from earlier drawings, revisits ideas and motifs from older work, and looks at the work of painters from earlier generations and – as painters do – borrows elements to use in his own. Over the past three decades, this has led to an idiosyncratic, multifaceted oeuvre.

The title “The Community of the Painted” derives from an essay by the English author and artist John Berger (1926–2017), quoted above. Though Berger was primarily writing about paintings that arise from and refer to the world around us, his argument can also be applied to Van Merendonk’s work. More than anything, Berger is writing about the artist’s intense way of looking; about how a reality-transcending representation of that which the artist has seen is the consequence of an interaction between the intensity of his or her gaze and the energy he or she receives from the subject that gaze is aimed at. According to Berger, that which is painted only comes to life, is only really painted, if it has truly been seen by the artist. By this he means that the visual language by which the painter transforms the subject into an image is not just accomplished but urgent. This interplay between intensive looking and creation, between what is seen and what is recorded in compelling imagery, is present in the reality of Van Merendonk’s studio. Other factors playing a role in the making of his art include the relationship between the artist and his subject, his chosen forms and working method, and the relationship between the artist and the painting he is creating. When Van Merendonk considers a work finished, he steps back, and the painting leaves the context of the studio to be exhibited or become part of a collection.

A certain level of intensity of gaze paired with a highly urgent visual language is the foundation of all art that matters, as Berger saw and aptly expressed in his essay. For him, a subject that is truly seen and then visualised in compelling imagery joins the “community of the painted”. This community encompasses many forms and styles and spans centuries: painted potatoes on a plate become part of the same community as a painted beloved woman, mountain, man on a cross. So too do the painted, pendulum traces, ovals, Z-shapes and residual forms in Van Merendonk’s works.

Roland Groenenboom

Artist: Cesare Pietroiusti
A Variable Number of Things

From mid-February, the artist Cesare Pietroiusti will succeed the Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh with the second one-year-long exhibition. This exceptional exhibition model is reserved for prominent artists with a distinctly exemplary role. Just like in the work of Hsieh, Pietroiusti is not focused on art as an object, but on life itself as a form of art. Since 1977, Pietroiusti has built up a very impressive oeuvre with a continuous flow of presentations. At West he will show a monthly changing selection of his works in the ‘corner offices’ of the former American embassy. Varying from early works and ‘artworks to be ashamed of’ to works that have never been shown or are new.

Joseph Sassoon Semah

Exile and hospitality are key themes in the work of Joseph Sassoon Semah (b. 1948, Baghdad). In 1950 he and his parents were forced to leave Iraq for Israel, and eventually ended up in Amsterdam, via London, Paris and Berlin. The exhibition will include 36 architectural models of houses, a synagogue, schools and cultural buildings that refer to the liberal Jewish culture of his Babylonian ancestors – a culture which, he says, barely exists except in memory now. The work of Sassoon Semah allows plenty of scope for critical reflection on identity, history and tradition, and is part of the artist’s long exploration of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity as sources of western art and culture. The aspirations of his grandfather, the Chief Rabbi of Baghdad, to promote dialogue between different religions and world views, resonates in everything he makes.

until 05 Apr
Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice (b. 1968, Cape Town) addresses the art historical tradition of the female nude. The women in her paintings, drawings and sketches are engaged in everyday activities: smoking, lingering in front of the mirror, dancing, painting. Their pose often references media images or iconic compositions by artists like Manet, Degas and Picasso. Women have for centuries been depicted as passive figures – rendered by and for the male gaze – but Brice shifts the perspective in her work. Brice lives and works in both London and Trinidad. In 2018 she had a solo exhibition at Tate Britain. This will be her first museum exhibition in the Netherlands.

until 18 Apr
Popel Coumou

Artist and photographer Popel Coumou (b. 1978) plays in her work with the main elements of photography: light, paper and perception of reality. By carefully lighting her collages she manages to give the paper relief a third dimension, bringing the flat surface to life. In a space with tall windows depth is created by the sunlight shining in, a simple little house appears in a large field, and illuminated geometric shapes loom out of a dark and desolate natural landscape. In other images, we realise only after looking very carefully that what we are seeing are not life-sized objects, but miniatures still lifes in clay, some of which even still bear the occasional fingerprint. Popel Coumou creates empty spaces, graphic lines and compositions verging on the abstract. Although her work rarely features any figures, there is always a sign of recent human presence, such as an empty chair or an open door. Popel has produced new work specially for the projects gallery at Fotomuseum Den Haag , using the space itself while at the same time revealing her creative process. She has enlarged her collage technique, which she had previously used mainly in a small format, to create an installation that will allow visitors to step into her illusionary world. Popel Coumou drew inspiration for the work from the iconic Kunstmuseum Den Haag building next door, designed by architect H.P. Berlage (1856-1934), as well as the architectural lines of the Fotomuseum.

29 Nov 31 Jan
SOLDIER OF FEELINGS

In his “text-paintings”, Man Schneider uses fragments of sentences and phrases from interviews he has conducted with fellow artist friends. Stacked on top of one another and highlighted in bright colours, the words deal with questions of meaning in art and create a space of communication, irony and self-affirmation.

29 Nov 31 Jan
NO MOON IN BERLIN

Ingrid Simons is interested in deconstructing the landscape and reconstructing it using her personal experience of the land. Throughout her work, she aims to spark new understanding of human consciousness and its relation to our natural environment.

Artists: Ana Navas, Evelyn Taocheng Wang and Mila Lanfermeijer
III – She spins the thread, she measures the thread, she cuts the thread

In this exhibition, the three artists explore the meaning of repetition, appreciation and appropriation. In seven rooms, designed for them by architect Donna van Milligen Bielke, they tell a layered story about friendship, artistic kinship and their autonomy within. Copying and reproduction are important ways of understanding, appreciating and interpreting their place in art history.