The small Belgian village Watou is once more dipped in art and poetry. During the yearly art festival artworks and poems are to be discovered in old townhouses, the brewery, the church, a farm… ‘Saudade’ is the 2019 theme, a Portugese term for sadness mixed with gratitude. In Watou the gratitude definitely prevails for an art experience unlike any other! Some favourites…

Michel François (°1956, Belgium) uses simple objects to make works with monumental proportions. In ‘Retenue d’eau’ hundreds of plastic bags filled with water are hung with thin threads. The very heavy work appears to be light. The ordinary becomes extra-ordinary.
Matthieu Lobelle (°1966, Belgium) is an avid diary writer. He sees himself as an observer, reporting his personal comments in his art work. The work shown is from his series ‘Bergzak’. These mountain bags depicting different landscapes refer to the figurative bagpack everyone is carrying on his life journey filled with memories, both pleasant and confronting ones.
Jenny Ymker (°1969, The Netherlands) her oeuvre consists of pictures which are woven in globelin tapestries. In all her works she carefully selects the location, cloths, props and takes a picture with herself as model in the story. Shown here is ‘Escape’ in which she seems to prevent the birds of prey to find the freedom they crave.
Tomoko Sugimoto (°1968, Tokyo) moved a few years ago from paintings to sculptures like ‘Unseen World’ shown here. The white tipi is covered with red embroidered drawings based on pictures of nuclear explosions. It is combined with the series ‘108 Floating Feelings’ referring to the buddhist notion that each person will experience 108 tribulations in his life.
Silvia B. (°1963, The Netherlands) shows ‘Crescendo’ (part of the series ‘Stringendo’) showing an adolescent, still tied but starting to get loose. She tries to depict the struggle and the search they go through, the budding sexuality, … Absolutely beautiful work.
Katrien Everaert (°1971, Belgium) shows ‘Inner Land’, a series of closed clay houses. Inner Land is the place where fantasy and reality meet, driven by memory, experience, hope and expectation.
The photography of Arjen Spannenburg (°1978, The Netherlands) focuses on identity search and self expression. He mostly photographs adolescent boys in black and white. The picture shown is ‘Reliant’ overflowing with universal feelings of vulnerability, uncertainty and loneliness.

Living Cities

Wandering around in the fabulous Tate Modern in London I walked into a small but interesting exhibit Living cities.

The displayed works from artists around the world examine the modern city using a range of materials including leather and couscous.

Some of my personal favourites are below.

Damian Ortega (°1967 Mexico, works in Mexico and Germany) has replicated floor plans of modernist apartment buildings from around the world using cow leather. The resulting cut-outs are installed as hanging sculptures. Each work’s title gives the name of the building, its date of completion, architect and location.These residential apartments were conceived to replace existing ineffective city housing with egalitarian structures. Ortega’s soft sculptures offer a gentle critique of modernism’s promise to transform how we live.


Damian Ortega, Skin, 2007

Skin, Przyczolek Grochowski Estate, LCS, 1963, Oskar Hansen, Warsaw, Poland 2007.

Skin, Centro Urbano Prsidente Aleman C.V.P.A. 1950, Manio Pani, Mexico City, Mexico 2007.

Skin, L’Unité D’Habilitation à Berlin, 1956-1958, Le Corbusier, Berlin, Germany 2007.

The large-scale collage below by Mark Bradford (°1961, USA) included materials found by the artist on the streets around his studio in Los Angeles. The collage is constructed entirely from paper fragments which the artist believes ‘act as memory of things pasted and things past. You can peel away the layers of papers and it’s like reading the streets through the signs.’


Los Moscos, 2004 by Mark Bradford (mixed media on canvas)

It was lovely to see the work ‘Ghardaïa’ by Kader Attia (°1970, France) in person. On the table is a model , made entirely of couscous, of the ancient Algerian city of Ghardaïa. The prints next to it show a photograph of architect Le Corbusier who has visited Ghardaïa in 1931 and adapted elements of the buildings in his own designs. There is also a photograph of Fernand Pouillon, one of Le Corbusier’s followers, who drew upon these ideas to design the social housing project in suburban Paris where Attia grew up as a child of Algerian parents. The artist’s own history and the wider post-colonial relationship between Algeria and France come together in this work.


Ghardaïa (2009) by Kader Attia (cooked couscous on wooden table and digital prints on paper)


Ghardaïa by Kader Attia – detail

As it resembled a bird it was as if she could fly

IMG_3095Martha  Tuttle (°1989, Santa Fe, New Mexico) is only 29 but her work has been recently purchased by MOMA New York. That’s not what convinced me to go and see her work in person in the Geukens & De Vil gallery in Antwerp. I was attracted to how she manipulates organic materials and uses textile techniques to create works lingering between paintings and sculptures.



Martha Tuttle is fascinated by matter, by the live-ness and fluidity of organic materials. She spins the wool in each painting by hand, then weaves it into cloth which is washed and often pounded for hours. By spending so much time manipulating her materials the energy of the artist’s body becomes an integral part of the work. The dense, irregular wool surface is combined with fragments of dyed transparent silk showing the space behind the work. Elements of brass, bronze, found stones and stones cast from stainless steel add layers of materiality.IMG_3088

IMG_3083For the exhibition in the gallery she added small shelves inspired by the beautiful architectural  space of the gallery. And in doing so she is linking everything together: landscape, body, material. Fascinating artist to discover!

Still on view till 24 November 2018 at Geukens & de Vil gallery.
If you want to know more: A video recording of a lecture Martha Tuttle gave in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in 2016 is available on the Modern’s Youtube.


Dutch Realism


Arnout Killian – Bust I (2004), oil on canvas

Fieldnotes is back with some more artsy discoveries. While strolling through the marvellous collection of the MORE Museum in The Netherlands, the work of several contemporary Dutch realist painters caught my eye. Please meet two of them.

Arnout Killian (°1969) lives and works in Amsterdam. Aside from making sound installations he paints hyper realistic works. Despite the big size of  his works the subjects are often cut off and painted against a non-defined background. As a result the works breath stillness and a sense of distancing. Intriguing work!


Arnout Killian – Cubicles (2011), oil on canvas


Arnout Killian – Beheaded mannequin (2004), oil on canvas


Arnout Killian – Foam (2002), oil on canvas

For Lotta de Beus (°1974) painting is about finding new images. The source materials she uses are old photos and Super8 images.  These are manipulated by changing the contrast, colours, shapes etc resulting in totally new images. Her paintings do seem to show a still from a larger story. And as a viewer you naturally construct your own personal version of the story.


Lotta de Beus – Eclipse (2008), oil on canvas


Lotta de Beus – Between us (2007), oil on canvas


Lotta de Beus – Truth or dare (2008), oil on canvas

Museum MORE is the largest museum for Dutch Modern Realism in the cozy town of Gorssel. Recommended if you like to be pleasantly surprised by a lesser known museum. If you manage to drag your kids along – they have nice guides for kids to fill out (at least for 9-12yrs, maybe also for younger kids). And they serve nice Dutch apple pie!

2017 Venice Biennale favourites (2)

Also this year the Japan pavilion at the Venice Biennale was one of my favourite country pavilions. Takahiro Iwasaki was selected to show “Turned Upside Down, It’s a Forest“.
Takahiro Iwasaki (°1975, Japan) sculpts miniature landscapes from unexpected materials. Drawing on Japan’s industrial history, Iwasaki recreates factories, ferris wheels and radio towers that present a snapshot of a bygone era. Far from being glamourous monuments, Iwasaki’s sculptures are melancholy, recalling the trauma of warfare, and more recent natural disasters in Japan and its psychological impact.


Australia presented Tracy Moffatt  with “My Horizon” showing 2 new photographic series and 2 films. Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s best known and internationally exhibited artists and the first indigenous Australian artist to represent her country at the Venice Biennale since 1997.
Her work strikes the right political chords, but does so in a highly stylish manner. Moffatt does not take photographs; she stages them, as if they are scenes from a film. As much as Moffatt’s work is about pain, it is also about glamour.


Tracey Moffatt – Mother and Baby from the series Passage, 2017


Tracey Moffatt – series Passage, 2017

In the series Body Remembers we view Moffatt herself as the maid in an isolated location. Moffatt alludes to memories, and discontent and its aftermath but the narrative is all up to the viewer.


Tracey Moffatt – Touch from the series Body Remembers, 2017


Tracey Moffatt – Rock Shadow from the series Body Remembers, 2017

And finally I would love to mention paintings by the African-American artist McArthur Binion (°1946 Mississippi). Completed between 2014 and 2016, the DNA series consists of abstract patterns painted on top of color copies of Binion’s birth certificate and pages from the address book he kept from the 1970s to 1992 when he left New York to teach in Chicago. Or how to make captivating paintings with words and biography!


To read more:
Takahiro Iwasaki – “Turned Upside Down. It’s a Forest”.
Tracey Moffatt – My Horizon, the book.
Interview with McArthur Binion.


2017 Venice Biennale favourites (1)

Visiting the Venice Biennale is always a great way to discover new artists and to rekindle the fascination for old favourites in the most charming setting of Venice island. Please find some of my favourites below of the 57th edition this year.

The work shown by Dirk Braeckman in the Belgian pavilion really hit home. You may accuse me of being highly biased being a Belgian myself but what is not to love about Braeckman’s analogue black and white photography. His experimentation with this medium at the brink of extinction, the flirting with representation and abstraction, the presence of a combination of intimacy and distance in each image… it all adds up to a fascinating body of work that brings stillness in today’s steady flow of images.
Dirk BraeckmanIMG_1681IMG_1680IMG_1682

Maria Lai was born in 1919 and passed away in 2013. She lived nearly a century in Sardinia, Italy and has translated her own history and the island’s folklore in her works. She has been one of the first artists involving the local community in her collective performances long before ‘relational’ art became a thing. In Venice several of her textile works were shown, stitches telling stories!


Maria Lai – Geografia, 1992 (fabric and thread)


Detail Geografia


Maria Lai – Storia universale, 1982 (fabric and thread)


Maria Lai – Lenzuolo, 1991 (collage of fabrics with wood thread) – detail


Maria Lai – fabric books

Shimabuku (° 1969, Japan) made me laugh with his ironical works. So interesting how he questions human culture and our environment for life in his projects and thought provoking too. A really nice discovery!


Shimabuku – Oldest and Newest Tools of Human Beings, 2016 (4 prehistoric stone axes, 4 smartphones, vitrine with glas) – detail


Shimabuku – Oldest and Newest Tools of Human Beings, 2016 (4 prehistoric stone axes, 4 smartphones, vitrine with glas) – detail


Shimabuku – Sharpening a MacBook Air, 2015 (MacBook Air with handle, vitrine, HD video, stereo sound – 2’05”) – detail


Shimabuku – The Snow Monkeys of Texas – Do Snow Monkeys Remember Snow Mountains?, 2016 (mixed media installation, text, cactus pot, HD video, stereo sound, 20′) – video still

The video “The Snow Monkeys of Texas – Do Snow Monkeys Remember Snow Mountains?” originated after Shimabuku was told the story about a group of Japanese snow monkeys who were brought from the mountains of Kyoto to a Texas desert in 1972. In the first year their numbers reduced dramatically, but in the second year their population grew. After hearing this story in 1992 he visited them  in Texas in 2016. After spending a few days with them he decided to make a mountain of ice for them.

Where to see works of these artists now the Biennale closed its doors?
Dirk Braeckman’s work will be shown at a double exhibition in Belgium early 2018, to be held simultaneously at BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels and M-Museum Leuven. Check out his website here.
Shimabuku is taking part in “The Show Must Go On” till 21 Jan 2018 in Kunst Museum Bern, Switserland and in the Biennale de Lyon till 7 Jan 2018. check out his website here.

More of my favourites coming soon. Please share your personal favourites of the 57th Venice Biennale in the comments!

On the Beach – Pablo Picasso


Last weekend the 57th Venice Biennale closed its doors. I will soon share my favourites but let’s go to the beach first!
I stumbled upon a highly interesting ‘work in focus’ exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice. It brings together three masterpieces painted by Pablo Picasso within the span of a few days in February 1937. The 3 canvases are painted at Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, France.
The painting On the Beach which belongs to the Peggy Guggenheim collection is presented for the first time alongside Woman seated on the Beach from the Musée des Beaux Arts of Lyon and Large Bather with a Book from the Musée national Picasso in Paris. Luca Massimo Barbero, who conceived the exhibition, generously put these 3 works in context by presenting sketches of Picasso showing the artists’ process and ideas.


Picasso – On the Beach, 12 Feb 1937 (oil, conté crayon and chalk on canvas)


Picasso – Study for ‘On the Beach’, 12 Feb 1937 (pencil, charcoal and blue pastel on laid paper)


Picasso – Study for ‘On the Beach’, 12 Feb 1937 (pencil on paper)



Picasso – Woman seated on the Beach, 10 Feb 1937 (oil, charcoal and pastel on canvas)


Picasso – Study for ‘Woman Seated on the Beach’, 10 Feb 1237 (pen and ink on paper)

2 preparatory drawings for On the Beach shed light on the genesis of the painting. One of these, only recently identified in a private collection, is the study that Dora Maar received as a gift from Picasso when they were lovers and conserved until her death. A third study, formerly in the collection of one of the artist’s grand-daughters, Marina Picasso, is for Woman Seated on the Beach. The selection of drawings executed between February and December of 1937 testify to Picasso’s interest in the theme of bathers, to which he returned frequently over the course of his life.


Picasso – Large Bather with a Book, 18 Feb 1937 (oil, charcoal and pastel on canvas)


Picasso – Bather, 6 feb 1937 (pencil on paper)


Picasso – Bather by a Cabin Skipping Rope, 6 Feb 1937 (wax crayon on fine grain tick tracing paper)


Picasso – Two Nudes on the Beach, 1 May 1937 (India ink, pastel and pencil on mahogany panel)


Picasso – On the Beach, 30 Dec 1937 (pencil on squared paper)


Picasso – On the Beach, 30 Dec 1937 (pencil on squared paper)

1937 was a crucial year for Picasso’s work and for the historical events against which it is set: the Nazi were consolidating their power in Europe and supporting Franco’s policies in Spain. These circumstances, among others, would eventually lead to the outbreak of the Second World War. The pair of engravings Picasso produced in January 1937 titled The Dream and Lie of Franco are also on display introducing the great themes of Guernica.

On the Beach is a gem of a ‘work in focus’ exhibition on Pablo Picasso, still on view in the Peggy Guggenheim museum Venice till 7 January 2018.

Playground – Thomas Lerooy


Thomas Lerooy – Remain, 2017 – bronze, marble, 51x42x41 cm

Thomas Lerooy his school notes always turned into doodles and drawings. At the beginning of the year, he was warned to keep his atlas spotless, but by the end of the year, it was covered in drawings. It’s all for the better this man found his way in a unique art practice which involves drawing, sculpture and installations.
Lerooy is born in Roeselare, Belgium (°1981) and now lives and works in Brussels.


Thomas Lerooy – With in, 2017, mixed media, 196×140 cm (background) and Phoenix, 2017, mixed media, 37×46 cm

The fleeting power of time is ever present in his work. Walking through his current solo exhibition Playground is like being in an arty roller coaster. Each work seems to come from a totally different reality with its own rules and historical references.


Thomas Lerooy – Playing with fire, 2017 – mixed media, 196×140 cm

His drawings are made on found paper collaged together for the bigger works. In his words: “When I started drawing, I was terrified of the blank page. Every line you draw has a story. I didn’t want that. At a certain point, I started collecting old catalogues, cutting out and making collages of all the yellowed and thumb-marked paper. I find that I can draw on those pages because I’m drawing on someone else’s story. That involves the idea of layers, and that is my true starting point.


Thomas Lerooy – Playground, 2017, bronze and concrete, 3900×2428 cm (detail)


Thomas Lerooy – Can’t fly, 2016, bronze, patina and silver, diam. 25 cm


Thomas Lerooy – Not enough brains to survive, 2009, bronze, 138x120x120 cm


Thomas Lerooy – Beauty in the shadow of the stars, 2015, bronze, patina, 100x400x300 cm


Thomas Lerooy, exhibition view of Playground, 2017

In his current solo exhibition Playground he interpreted the museum space as his play pen in which he built ‘play blocks’ in primary colours to form a labyrinth. So fun to discover!
His whimsical yet dark Playground can be discovered at Museum Dhondt Dhaenens, Belgium till 4 Mar 2018.

A studio visit can be found here and more of his works here.

Writings on Water

Dancing ink on canvas, drawing with a hand breathing.
I draw what I cannot dance… remaining forever on a page.
Carolyn Carlson, 2017

Scan 2017-8-5 15.29.14From the image on the exhibition leaflet I just knew it was going to be good. But walking through the exhibition of Carolyn Carlson’s drawings revealed some serious soulful authenticity.


Carolyn Carlson photographed by Guy Delahaye in Venice, 1988

Carolyn Carlson is a Californian dancer and choreographer who has lived for extensive periods of time in Paris, Roubaix, Venice and New York. During her nomadic existence she has always written, drawn and painted in fusion with her dancing career.  Carolyn Carlson’s ballet, ‘Writings on Water‘, lends its name to this exhibition that presents over 100 sketches and drawings. The venue, museum La Piscine in Roubaix, is no coincidence. Not only is the water just next to the exhibition rooms but Carlson was also director of the Centre Choréographique National in Roubaix for 9 years.


La Piscine, Roubaix, a public swimming pool turned into a museum.

Carlson calls herself a self-taught poet, illustrator, and calligraphic painter, with influences from a Zen Master. During a meditation class in New York in the 1960’s she drew her first ink drawing with a one-out breath. She recalls that instant as a discovery, a key to her work. Her dance improvisation encouraged also her calligraphic works which she likes to call an imaginary spontaneous solo.

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For the ballet ‘Signes’ she collaborated with Olivier Debré. In the exhibition you can see Carlson’s design drawings and a video of the final ballet.


It’s also very interesting to see many of her tools, sketchbooks, artist books etc. displayed in the exhibition. Altogether, ‘Writing on Water’ succeeds to provide an intimate look into the holistic artistic life of Carolyn Carlson.

Carolyn Carlson ‘Writing on Water’ is on view in La Piscine till 24 Sep 2017. Pictures are taken by me in the exhibition, artworks are taken from the catalogue.


Punk – Junko Oki


Junko Oki – A Bulb, 2017 (Detail)

Junki Oki started her artistic practice in 2002 right before turning 40. Her work consists of embroidery on old fabrics, often several centuries old, collected by her late mother. Her work focuses primarily on human relationships, particularly those of her family.  Personal memories seem to spiral into abstract intricate thread drawings. Junko Oki is based in Kanagawa, Japan.
I had admired her poetic and authentic work online, so when I learned that Office Baroque in Brussels was hosting her first solo exhibition in Belgium I just had to go and see her work in person.


Junko Oki – A Jacket, 2016


Junko Oki – Fingertip, 2017


Junko Oki – Anna Maria, 2016


Junko Oki – A Mineral, 2017


Junko Oki – Snow, Ruby, Lemon, 2017


Junko Oki – Memories, 2017


Junko Oki – Time Machine, 2017


IMG_9196Apart from her 2 and 3 dimensional embroidered work, Oki is also known for a series of artist books. The success she enjoyed after showing her work to the world was compiled in a beatiful book ‘Punk’ that not only captures her work but also the unique atmosphere she manages to instill in each work.


Punk – Book on Junko Oki’s work, 2014

Solo exhibition Junko Oki on view at Office Baroque, Brussels till 27 May 2017. The gallery has some copies of Punk for sale. Check out their website.



Gerhard Richter – New Paintings



Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (946-4), 2016. Oil on canvas

Gerhard Richter, one of the most famous artists of our time, has lived in Cologne since 1984. It’s there that Museum Ludwig currently presents his new paintings. 26 abstract paintings are exhibited, all created in the past year. Some of my favourites are below.


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (943-1), 2016. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (944-10), 2016. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (946-3), 2016. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (946-5), 2016. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (947-1), 2016. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (947-8), 2016. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (939-7), 2015. Oil on canvas


Exhibition view Gerhard Richter New Paintings Museum Ludwig

The museum asked the master himself to select some of his older works from their collection to contextualise the surprisingly bright colourful new compositions. These works are shown in a dense showcase adjacent to the exhibition.


Gerhard Richter- Ema, Nude on a Staircase, 1966. Oil on canvas


Gerhard Richter- Betty, 1977. Oil on canvas

Gerhard Richter’s first wife, Ema, with whom he moved from the GDR to West Germany, posed for a photograph, appearing naked on the stairs in his Düsseldorf studio in 1966. With ‘Ema’, the artist painted one of his first works based on one of his own colour photographs that would become an icon in his oeuvre. Ema is at that time pregnant with their daughter Babette who was born 6 months later. Babette is depicted 10 years later on the painting ‘Betty’.


Gerhard Richter- War, 1981. Oil on canvas

The paining above, ‘War’, belongs to a series of abstract paintings that Gerhard Richter painted in preparation of his contribution to Documenta 7 in 1982. It’s one of his first monumental abstract works.
One can only conclude that Richter, at age 85, relentlessly continues his investigation in the presentation of reality and continues to be fascinated by the use of chance in the creation of his works.
On view in Museum Ludwig till May 1st 2017.

Saul Leiter: paintings

“I may be old-fashioned, but I believe there is such a thing as a search for beauty – a delight in the nice things in the world. And I don’t think one should have to apologise for it.”  

Saul Leiter in  ‘In No Great Hurry‘, a 2014 documentary about Saul Leiter


Saul Leiter, Untitled, ca 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

Saul Leiter (1923-2013) was born in Pittsburgh. His Jewish father was a well known Talmud scholar and Saul studied to become a Rabbi. His mother gave him his first camera at age 12. At age 23, he left theology school and moved to New York City to pursue painting. He had developed an early interest in painting and was fortunate to meet the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was experimenting with photography. His interest in photography grew and he started to take pictures of his neighbourhood. The rest is history. Saul Leiter became a pioneering photographer with a very distinct eye.

Despite his photography career, he never gave up painting. In the retrospective exhibition which originated at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and travelled to FOMU in Antwerp, his pioneering pictures were shown next to his colourful paintings; abstract paintings on Japanese silk paper, painted-over nude pictures and small paintings in sketchbooks. A beautiful  artistry of Leiter to be discovered!


Saul Leiter, Untitled, ca 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper


Saul Leiter, Untitled. Gouache and watercolour over gelatine silver print


Saul Leiter, Untitled, 1960. Gouache and watercolour over gelatine silver print


Saul Leiter, Untitled, 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper


Saul Leiter, Untitled. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper


Saul Leiter, Untitled. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper


Saul Leiter, Untitled, 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper


Saul Leiter, sketchbooks

All pictures were taken by me in the Retrospective in FOMU, Antwerp.



Full Moon


Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar

A new museum is born. The youngest museum in the Netherlands opened in September 2016 near The Hague. Museum Voorlinden houses the diverse art collection of Joop van Caldenborgh. The idea to develop a new museum to house this exceptional collection rooted a few years ago and finally saw the light in 2016. A new building was designed, the gardens were designed by Piet Oudolf and the stately building in the garden was turned into a restaurant. It must be said: Museum Voorlinden is a gem to be discovered!

What striked me most during my first visit is how the surrounding landscape is made part of the museum experience and also the pleasant way the visitor is invited to explore and learn about the art works.


Ellsworth Kelly – Blue Ripe (1959)

The opening exhibition in Museum Voorlinden was and ode to the late artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015). It was the first solo exhibition of the American artist in The Netherlands since 1979 but it closed on January 8. Martin Creed is coming up next.

The exhibition ‘Full Moon‘ offers an introduction to the collection by presenting 40 art works to be discovered and to enjoy the pleasure of looking. Museum Voorlinden also has a number of works in its own permanent exhibition where they are shown in the best possible way. Museum Voorlinden is highly recommended by Fieldnotes. Some of my favourites are below.


Ron Mueck – Open Ended (2007-2008). Mueck makes extremely realistic human figures. Only the scale of the sculptures reveals that they are not ‘real’. As a son of a puppet maker he gets intrigued at an early age about puppets and the ways to make them move. At some point he works as assistent puppet maker with Jim Henson (‘Sesame Street’ and ‘The Muppet Show’). Mueck manages to never impose his own vision or story so that you can freely make your own story while looking at the works.


Kaari Upson – Janice, Tracy, Sarah, Kristin, Joan, … (2012). In 2003 Kaari Upson entered a deserted house close to Los Angeles where she lives. Apparently a pervert has lived here who is now serving his time in prison. Upson took some of the found objects, named the mysterious figure ‘Larry’ and created several works within this new reality. The installation on display here is the climax of Upson’s Larry project. All women that played a role in the narrative of the Larry project come together here and are named in the endlessly long title. the crutches are made from silicon and in their slackness have lost all functionality of support. The skin colours, the use of hair, dust and dirt make the work attractive and repulsive at the same time.


Rémy Zaugg – Imagine, you are standing here in front of me (1990-1993). Painted in white on a white canvas the text in Rémy Zaugg’s work is barely readable at first. Zaugg is well known for his word-paintings. This work is in a way a self portrait. By using the tool of language Zaugg challenges the viewer to visualise his portrait. At the same time it is an illustration of the relativity of all perception: everyone creates his own image.


Pascale Marthine Tayou – Cloth Painting F (2013). Various pieces of fabric, stitched together, stretched over a frame and eye-catchingly in the center is the skin of a swine. The fabrics, taken from second hand garments, and the skin almost come alive because of the filling with hay. These are recurrent materials and objects in the oeuvre of Pascale Martine Tayou, a Cameroon artist living in Belgium. Tayou creates universal images dealing with topics like migration, the circulation of people and commodities, equality versus inequality. He presents it in a colourful way by means of objects from his motherland.


Astrid Mingels – Introverted (2014). The skin of a zebra, folded neatly, displayed on a white pedestal. Astrid Mingels removes the skin from its colonial context. By folding up the skin, she refers to the downfall of the modernistic way of thinking. The trophy is reduced to a package that can easily be stored in a cupboard.


Ornaghi & Prestinari – Abito, 2014. In Italian the word ‘abito’ is used for the blue working garment. We see two versions: the one in the back is a common overall with paint splashes. The garment in the front is an exact copy but now knitted and every spot of paint is embroidered by hand on the wool. It brings hommage to the painter and the craftsmanship inherent in the act of painting.


Giorgio Morandi – Natura Morta con quattro oggetti e tre bottiglie (1956) & Natura Morta con cinque oggetti (1956). “Nothing is a s abstract as reality”, is an often heard quote of Morandi. In his studio he collected all sorts of pots, jars, vases and jugs. He depicted them in hundreds of combinations. Morandi is not interested in the representation of the objects as such, but in creating works where the main motif is the interrelationship of their form, the space in between and the interplay of light and shadow. It results in an endless variety as these two etchings on display illustrate.




Richard Serra – Open Ended (2007-2008). This monumental work in steel weighs 216 ton, is 4 m high, 18 m long and can be experienced by walking through. After a few steps you enter an other world completely surrounded by the art work. A museum room was specifically designed in close collaboration with the artist to house ‘Open Ended’. The result is an exciting contrast between straight and bowed, light and shadow, inside and outside.


Leandro Erlich – Swimming Pool (2016). Erlich plays with optical illusions. He creates disorientating installations, mostly architectural spaces where something is not quite right. When you visit make sure to go ‘in’ the Swimming Pool. You won’t get wet.

Seeing art is great fun at Museum Voorlinden. And that alone deserves a visit.

Pictures were taken by me, caption content is adapted from visitors guide “Full Moon” exhibition and the book “Highlights Collectie Voorlinden”.



Van Gogh’s first steps as an artist


Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) – Vincent Van Gogh, circa 30 Mar 1888, oil on canvas. This is one of the first paintings he made after moving to Paris

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) might be one of the most famous artists in the world. He was born in 1853 in the Netherlands. After having done different jobs he decided to become an artist at the age of 27. Van Gogh took painting lessons in The Hague from a cousin by marriage, artist Anton Mauve.

Van Gogh’s early drawings and paintings can now be seen at the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands. The expo ‘The Early Van Gogh – work against indifference‘ showcases 120 works from the museums’ collection from the period 1880-1885. The works clearly show how Van Gogh’s artistry develops in his early Dutch period. It reveals his fanatical practising to improve his drawing technique and to create art that in his own words ‘wells up from a deeper source in our soul’.


Man seen from the back and studies of hands – Vincent Van Gogh, May-Jun 1885, chalk on paper


Reaper – Vincent Van Gogh, Jul-Aug 1885, chalk on paper


Man with broom – Vincent Van Gogh, Oct 1881, chalk, charcoal, watercolour on paper





Boy with a sickle – Vincent Van Gogh, Oct-Nov 1881, chalk, charcoal, watercolour on paper


Carpenter’s yard and laundry – Vincent Van Gogh, May 1882, pencil, chalk, ink, watercolour on paper


Weaver in front of his loom – Vincent Van Gogh, May-Jun 1884, pencil, ink, watercolour on paper


Peasant woman cleaning a pot – Vincent Van Gogh, Jul-Aug 1885, chalk on paper

After his father died in 1885 he started working on the famous painting ‘The Potato Eaters‘. Later that year he decided to enrol at the academy of art in Antwerp and from there he moved to Paris.
The works he produced in France until his death can be seen in museums all over the world but for his very first drawings and paintings you have to go to the beautiful Kröller-Müller Museum.
And while you’re there grab one of the free white bikes and enjoy the surrounding Veluwe National Park with all your senses.



Exhibition view ‘The Early Van Gogh’ – Kröller-Müller Museum, The Netherlands

Tip: The website of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a great resource if you want to read more on Van Gogh.

Paulina Olowska – portraits


Paulina Olowska – Girl in Portobello Road market offers for sale dresses she has made, 2012. Oil on canvas.

Paulina Olowska (1976) grew up in Poland in the days of communism. Today, she still  lives and works in Poland, dividing her time between Krakow and her studio in the lush Polish countryside.
As an artist she explores topics as the woman as an archetype, muse, mother, housewife, model or artist and she sets them against the backdrop of the historical, social and cultural shifts between East and West since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.


Paulina Olowska – Granny, 2012. Oil on canvas.

Olowska has always been profoundly interested in the cultural and social significance of clothing and fashion. Her early paintings and collages were based on commercial images but recently her paintings became more lively.  She plays so freely with the paint, watered down to nearly watercolour, sprayed or liberally pasted on the canvas, it all happens easily in one painting. Seeing her paintings in person is a true delight.


Paulina Olowska – Nicole de la Marge and the Rolling Stones, Queen, 1964, 2012. Oil on canvas.


Paulina Olowska – Untitled (for Ulrike Ottinger), 2012. Oil on canvas.

Having studied art in 5 countries; Japan, America, the Netherlands, Portugal and Poland, Olowska continues to exhibit her work internationally. Last year she was shown in Paris, Aachen and Tate Modern-London. Soon she will have a show in Metro Pictures Gallery in NY (Nov 4-Dec 22, 2016). The portraits above are currently on view in “These Strangers… Painting and People” at SMAK, Belgium till 8 Jan 2017.

Read more about Paulina Olowska in this interesting recent article in NYTimes Style Magazine and here.

Next of Kin


Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has an online collection of fine art. But what is rather genius about them is that they support creatives of all fields by allowing and encouraging the public to download the high-res images of their various collections and create new art with it.
And that’s what Biljana Kroll does. She thankfully uses the richness of these digital scans as a starting point for her designs.

I was immediately charmed by her latest poster series “Next of kin“. In that series she  creates floral collages combining florals from 16th century floral still-life paintings with the abstract finger paintings of her toddler son. How cool is that? I’m always in for mother-child art co-operations!


Biljana Kroll’s fingerpainting sessions with her toddler son


Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”


Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”


Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”


Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”



Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

See more of Biljana Kroll’s portfolio on her website.


Michael Buthe


Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, 1987-88. 8 collages on paper (Detail)

Michael Buthe was an unknown artist to me when I entered his retrospective exhibition earlier this year. What a playful bohemian art feast was I to discover!

Buthe is a German artist who died in 1994 at the age of 50. He studied art in Kassel and later in Dusseldorf as a student of Joseph Beuys. Although he exhibited widely in Germany throughout his life and participated in 4 ‘Documenta’ exhibitions, his work seemed to have moved to the back plane but has been re-examined for Buthe’s retrospective (still on view in Munich till 20 November 2016).


Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, 1969.

His works are strikingly diverse in medium, he produced textile works, drawings, collages, paintings and sculptures. His fascination for the cosmos, mythology, a shamanistic lifestyle and for a physical art practice that permeates life is what oozes out of his entire body of work. He traveled extensively and spent longer periods of time in Marocco. North African influences are visible in several works.


Michael Buthe – Le roi est mort, 1974-77. Chair, wax, feathers, wood, buffalo horns, string and glass.


Michael Buthe – Boulli Afrikaa, from 1972. Various materials (detail).

Buthe’s artistic process is very fluid; he constantly adds and subtracts materials. Some works developed over extended periods of time. Boulli Afrikaa is the title that Buthe gave to a sculpture which began conceptually in 1972 with the shoes and red necklace of a Senegalese musician and from then on was successively filled with other keepsakes and objets trouvés.


Michael Buthe – Diary, 1977.


Michael Buthe – Das Tote Meer, 1989. Mixed media on canvas, gold leaf.


Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, early 1970s. Collage, photo, gold wrapping ribbon, lid of a can in wax with rubber seal, part of a paint brush, glue, gold bronze on paper on canvas.


Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, 1992. Mixed media, assemblage with wood on canvas.

Michael Buthe’s retrospective is still on view in Munich till 20 November 2016.
All pictures in this post were taken by me in the retrospective at SMAK, Ghent.

Maki Na Kamura


Maki Na Kamura – fGf XXVII, 2011

Watching a painting by Maki Na Kumara is an experience. Is it an abstract image or is it a landscape? Does she uses paint or watercolour? The colours are at times very mute and sometimes quite electric.
When I researched her after seeing some of her work at the Biennale of painting, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium, I was even more intrigued.


Maki Na Kamura – fGf X, 2010

Maki Na Kamura comes from Japan, having moved to live in Germany in the mid-1990s. She studied painting under Jörg Immendorff, initially in Frankfurt and later in Dusseldorf. Since 2005 she has been living and working in Berlin.
In 2005, she exhibited a number of works herself. Rather than sending invitation cards or posting details online, the show was announced only via a large advertisement in a Berlin daily newspaper: “IHR SCHÖNSTES BILD HAT SIE VERKAUFT UND IN EINE ANZEIGE VERWANDELT. NUN SPIELT SIE LE COUCOU AUF DEM PIANO…” (She’s sold her best picture and turned it into an advertisement. Now she’ll play “Le Coucou” on the piano …). A grand piano was acquired, on which Na Kamura practised every day in front of her pictures and, as announced, pondered questions like: Is this an exhibition? Or: Am I now part of the art world? This one-week event, referred to in one piece on her show as “Na Kamura’s first discrete entrance into the arena of the Berlin art world, took place in an empty shop at Fasanenstrasse 69, Berlin.


Maki Na Kamura – fGf XVIII, 2011

Maki Na Kamura’s paintings are, at their core, landscapes. Instead of idealized scenes pulled from nature, she builds her landscapes from abstract washes of color, modernist skyscrapers, and most notably, other paintings. She borrows motifs from the history of pre-Impressionist landscape painting – Hokusai, as well as links to the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, Jean-François Millet and Whether Giogione’s “Sleeping Venus” (1510),  or mountains and trees of Hans Bol.

Subtle as they are, you easily miss the references, however. And indeed, this is part of the artist’s game. “I build these histories into my landscapes,” she says. “Surely, [the references] should have a presence, but they shouldn’t be so clear that you get them immediately. The historical references aren’t a template. They’re nothing more than a vocabulary with which I can build new sentences. It’s like a game, an earnest game though. It’s a challenged to the masters.


Maki Na Kamura – fGf XXVIII, 2011

In Kamura’s series fGf (the ‘fat gold frame’ in question is imagined, not shown, 2010–11) and GiL (‘geometry in landscapes’, 2011–13) – she explores cultural exchange as export/import. Some of her latest landscape paintings that bear titles like “. SS 1”, “. SS 2” etc., an abbreviation for shan shui (mountain water), the traditional Chinese art of landscape painting. Rocks float. Figures float. Or is this just what a viewer with a firm belief in a single horizon wishes to see?


Maki Na Kamura – .SS4, 2015

In 2012 Maki Na Kamura received the Prix Marcel Broodthaers and in 2013 she was awarded the Falkerot Prize.

Check out her website for more.




Jessica Rankin – Cloud from Silt, 2009. Embroidery on organdy, 113 x 184 cm

This spring the works of artist couple Julie Mehretu (°1970) and Jessica Rankin (°1971) were brought together in the exhibition ‘Earthfold’ at the museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium. They share the same studio space in New York and both use abstraction as artistic language. How fascinating it was to see how their artistic practice is naturally different but at the same time seems to fit so well together and resulted in collaborative works made for this exhibition.


Jessica Rankin – Empty Night, 2009. Embroidery on organdy, 274 x 234 cm


Jessica Rankin – Empty Night, 2009 – Detail

Julie Mehretu is primarily known for her works expressing a metropolitan dynamic. I had admired her work in several exhibitions and museum collections. The work of Jessica Rankin was new to me and such a great discovery. I loved it at first sight. Rankin is born in Australia and she reworks the typical compositions of geographical and astronomical maps in collages, watercolours and embroidered works. As a lover of textile art I fell hard for her embroidery works. She uses organdy as a carrier which gives the work an interesting transparency. The loose threads at the back all add to the composition at the front side. Patterns and meaning stitched together.


Jessica Rankin – Quis Est Iste Qui Venit, 2012. Embroidery on organdy, 213 x 123 cm


Jessica Rankin – Quis Est Iste Qui Venit, 2012 – Detail


Jessica Rankin – Noesis, 2010. Embroidery on organdy, 182 x 182 cm


Jessica Rankin – Untitled I, 2011. Embroidery on organdy, 150 x 150 cm


Jessica Rankin – Passage Dusty (Humming), 2007. Embroidery on organdy, 106 x 152 cm


Jessica Rankin – Termagent (La Fille de Theia), 2014. Embroidery on organdy, 107 x 107 cm

For an artsy web-exhibition of 33 works from Jessica Rankin click here.

All pictures in this post are taken by me in the Earthfold exhibition.

Origami – Sarah Morris


Sarah Morris – Rose (Origami), 2014. Based on a crease pattern “Rose” by Noboru Miyajima. Household gloss print on canvas 214 x 214 cm.

For her films and paintings she travels the world. Sarah Morris (° 1967, UK) lives and works in New York but filmed in China, Rio de Janeiro and Paris. And moreover she manages to film where no journalist would ever come in. It might help that she never records sound – “it’s art anyway” she explains. Her mission is to search for the truth  behind the glossy appearances in the economical capitals of the world.


Sarah Morris – Angel (Origami), 2009. Based on a crease pattern “Harpy” by Jason Ku. Household gloss print on canvas 214 x 214 cm.

I discovered her work in the M-Museum in Leuven (Belgium) where a good overview of her work was shown earlier this year. Morris’ paintings, known for their distinct use of color, explore themes like power, style, economy. I like how her research of urban stories is translated into different forms. Her paintings, films and filmposters all seem to convey her insights of power relations into sounds, images, colours, patterns…


Sarah Morris – Rockhopper (Origami), 2009. Based on a crease pattern “Penguin” by Noboru Miyajima. Household gloss print on canvas 289 x 289 cm.

I particularly liked her painting series Origami and the painted over vintage film posters. Morris used to work as assistant for Jeff Koons but now travels the world as a nomadic urbanist looking for intriguing power games to unravel in her art.
Find out more on her website.


Sarah Morris – Pulp Fiction, 2013. Ink and gouache on film poster, 157×115 cm.


Sarah Morris – Il Coltello Nell’Acqua, 2014. Ink and gouache on film poster, 140×100 cm.