Art Rotterdam

Ulrike Grafberger, donderdag 4 april 2013

A visit to Art Rotterdam is planned for today. Art Rotterdam is one of the most important art exhibitions in Holland. Around 70 galleries from across Europe, including Holland’s top galleries such as West and Grimm, have contemporary art on display. The venue alone is a brilliant one: the Cruise Terminal on the Wilhelmina pier – to me the most beautiful area of Rotterdam. The famous Erasmus Bridge, the legendary New York Hotel, the most exciting skyscrapers and a range of disused warehouses, today in use as an event location, are all here.

Philistines among connoisseurs

Now, I find art very interesting, but I’m by no means a real art connoisseur. I don’t get the deeper meaning of straight black or blue paintings at first glance. So I’m very happy that my friend Gritta is taking the time to accompany me through Art Rotterdam. Gritta is an art historian, now working for a Dutch art journal and overseeing the MK Art Award, and has been at the exhibition every day. If anyone is in the know, then she is.

She shows me the works of the best known Dutch artists such as Hans van Bentem, Atelier van Lieshout, Carolein Smit and Tiebbe Beekman. From there we go on to the German galleries such as Berlin’s Sommer & Kohl and Klemm's, then on to Rotwand from Zürich and Rokeby from London, displaying the faceless young men and women of Gideon Rubin. The Kai Middendorff Galerie, Frankfurt, is represented by large-format and vividly coloured oil paintings of the Turkish artist Ekrem Yalcindag. Fortunately, the friendly gallery owners patiently explain the works. So now I know that Ekrem Yalcindag has converted impressions he has collected in streets all over the world into circles of colour in his large, round paintings, "Impressions from the streets". And so the colour combinations of a Düsseldorf shop window are echoed in the sequence of three colour fields on canvas. You need to know that first ...

Birds of paradise and the wealthy aristocracy

I find the public at least as interesting as the art: a man in a pink shaggy jacket and a congenial mop of fuzzy hair in orange standing alongside another celeb in black lederhosen and jacket, with a fox fur waistcoat that would have done credit to my grandmother. In the next room struts a lady on Yves Klein blue half-boots with a matching blue turban encircling her head. I decide to pay greater attention to my own outfits next year.

What you do not notice at first glance about the people, you will certainly see when looking at them a second time: this is where high society gathers. And so it should because art will be brought to the people. You may perhaps get a small picture for a few hundred Euros, but you’ll need around Euro 25,000 for a bigger painting that fills a wall. And anyone who has the right amount of space can put an entire installation in their living room.

Moving art

We move on to the prettily named building of Las Palmas opposite for Art Rotterdam Projections, the exhibition on the subject of video art. Films are projected onto vast canvases. The highlight for me is "Parade" by Hans Op de Beeck. In his film, Hans Op de Beeck allows a wide variety of people to walk in a kind of parade over the stage of a classical theatre in the town where he lives. As the stage set changes in the background (the artist’s water colours), children, cleaning crews, passers-by and much more run over the stage – a parade of life ending with a funeral and a young child as a sign of new life.

So who buys video art? Hotels do, for instance. The world’s biggest promoter of video art in hotels is the Andaz Hotel in Amsterdam. Video films by international video artists are shown in the corridors, in some of the rooms and in the lobby. The hotel’s collection comprises all of 40 works.

So anyone interested in contemporary art or who needs a few more video films, installations, pictures of colour circles or sculptures for their home should come to the next Art Rotterdam.