Chicago | Los Angeles | Miami | New York | San Francisco | Santa Fe
Amsterdam | Berlin | Brussels | London | Paris | São Paulo | Toronto | China | India | Worldwide

Special Edition : ART Rotterdam
by ArtSlant Team


Art Rotterdam 2012

In Rotterdam.

Art fairs and Off-Events with the ArtSlant Team

Art fairs are the perfect excuse to visit a city. Because, let's face it, those big cluttered pavilions can only be exciting for so many hours. Rotterdam - considered the gateway to Europe with its large port and bustling industry - is one of those cities you discover little by little, usually with the pretext of visiting this or that art venue. And, despite the spectacularly unattractive city center, the resulting picture portrays a place that, if unevenly fascinating, does have its perks when it comes to art. It's true that most of them concentrate in the hip Witte de With area, but exhibitions like those at the Submarine Wharf or last year's Melanchotopia (predictably signed WDW) are a good chance to see different areas of this historic and bittersweet Dutch town in a new light. And of course there is ART Rotterdam along with its collateral events, which brings a much needed cultural crush to the winter landscape of this vibrant city. Here's a short guide to the some of the most appealing possibilities during the fair week.

(Anouk Kruithof, at Galerie Adler, 2011. Courtesy of Art Rotterdam. Read ArtSlant's interview with Anouk Kruithof here)

First of all, this year there are a couple of side fairs. If you went to Rotterdam in 2011 chances are you've been to OBJECT Rotterdam, the fair's design-oriented cousin. This year a third event opens up, the RawArtFair, focusing on younger art and offering a “fresh” and “completely revisited” art fair experience. Often “young” is a cool way to say “cheap”, but we'll wait and see. If you're really fired up about new talents, you might also want to pay a visit to Ongekend Young Masters, exhibiting affordable pieces by freshly graduated artists. After so much art, the nightlife awaits. Whether it's a cozy dinner in old Delfshaven or the super slam of a Friday-night DJ set at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, the evening debrief will get you ready for the next must-do.

(Pieke Bergmans (Rotterdam Design Prize nominee 2011), From the Sky, Installation from Groninger Museum, with Light Bulbs on view. Photo: Mirjam Bleeker. Courtesy of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.)

Since, after all, art fairs are about selling and buying stuff, here's a couple more events collectors will appreciate. The first is the Wild Book Market, a successful and obviously book-related sale taking place at Het Wilde Weten, a former Franciscan nunnery turned artist studios. The collective will present their projects and launch a special publication, so there are plenty of reasons to show up. Book worms might also dig the PrintRoom, another go-to event for paper fetishists. For the occasion the space will showcase publications by Leipzig-based Lubok Verlag, a collection of art prints.

Unfortunately, one of the main side events at Art Rotterdam this year has very sad undertones. The new MK Award, which will be presented during the fair, is in fact a response to the untimely death of Emmo Grofsmid and Karmin Kartowikromo, co-owners of MKgalerie Rotterdam/Berlin who tragically deceased in a car crash last year. To launch the initiative, several artists from the gallery's roster have contributed with a series of prints, all collected into the MK Edition, a luxurious volume that will be available at the fair. On the side, a pop-up art show will be open to the public at Re:Rotterdam at Boompjes 60-68, in another riverside area just a couple of bridges away from ART Rotterdam's venue. (More on the MK Award by Andrea Alessi below.)

(Nina Boas, performance, 2009 in Hommes, courtesy of Hommes. Nina Boas is showing at Re:Rotterdam with drawings and a performance on Saturday Feb 11 at 7pm)

Boompjes 60-68 is also the spot where the Rotterdam Gallery Tour starts. But perhaps a cooler way to check art venues off your list at a breakneck pace is the Art Rotterdam “fietstocht,” or Rotterdam ByCycle. Taking place on Saturday, the initiative tours you around the city, alternately visiting art venues and enjoying the ride. And if you get hungry, Rotterdam-Art-Adventure-Food is a promising way to match your cultural and papillary taste.

Given the rigidity of the Dutch weather, in case you wish to spend some more time indoors – without giving up the inspirational lure of art – sneak into one of Guds Söner's performances at SKVR Beeldfabriek, which is pretty close to the fair. Tickets are cheap and you can buy them here.

As an international postgraduate center of studies and research, the Piet Zwart Institute (part of the Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam) couldn't miss the chance to participate in the fair-related excitement, so they're having a yet-to-be-specified event at their Plaza (Karel Doormanhoff, 45) on Saturday evening. An art-inspired, alcohol-fueled hangout in the core of the city is the perfect peak to a day trip.

(Scarlett Hooft Graafland, My White Knight, 2011-2012, C-print, 60 x 75 cm, 100 x 125 cm or 125 x 150 cm. Courtesy Vous Etes Ici. A solo show of Graafland's work will be showing at Vous Etes Ici at Art Rotterdam. Read more about her work in ArtSlant's interview here.)

Finally, the ultimate perk for the art-obsessed! In case you're staying overnight, Hotel Rotterdam is providing you with the opportunity to sleep in an artist studio, so you can actually Wake Up in Art – such is the inspiring title to the initiative. The price is feasible, breakfast is included, so why not give it a try? In my experience artists often like to work and sleep in different places because the smell of paint can be quite asphyxiating, but I'm sure the guys at Hotel Rotterdam have that under control.

It's too much to see everything, but there is enough to have a good time.

See you in Rotterdam!

--Nicola Bozzi

FAIR WATCH - Aukje Koks

(Aukje Koks, Walkabout, 2010, oil on linen, 270 x 140cm. Courtesy of Galerie Diana Stigter)

Aukje Koks is currently a nominee for the Illy Prize at Art Rotterdam and has a dual exhibition at MOT International in Brussels. Her work is represented by Galerie Diana Stigter at Art Rotterdam. Read more about her work in Andrea Alessi's interview with Aukje Koks.

TALK OF THE WEEK - MK Award by Andrea Alessi

Not typically known for its art so much as its industry, Rotterdam can seem, to the uninitiated, an unlikely art city. But to anyone paying attention, this haven holds its own against historically art-centered neighbors like Amsterdam and Haarlem. One of the best things about Art Rotterdam is that it presents the annual opportunity for the city to bring its exceptional contemporary art scene into focus for visitors both local and global alike. Until last year, no art tour of Rotterdam would have been complete without a trip to MKgalerie, located on Wittedewithstraat, right in the heart of the city’s flourishing art district. When MKgalerie’s beloved owners, Emmo Grofsmid and Karmin Kartowikromo died together in a car crash last summer, the city’s art scene suffered a heartbreaking loss.

(Hans Wilschut, in 'MK Edition Green,' courtesy of the artist and MK Award Foundation.)

These two men were truly loved, and in the wake of their deaths anecdotes about their kindness, ambition, support, cooking, hospitality, and friendship passed through art media and social channels. It seemed everyone had a story to share and wanted to participate in the collective remembrance. Rather than dwelling on the tragedy, friends, coworkers, and former gallery artists almost immediately began working on a way to honor these two figures. The MK Award, a forthcoming annual prize for visual artists, issues from this collective desire to celebrate and remember their legacy.

(Ditty Ketting, in 'MK Edition Blue,' courtesy of the artist and MK Award Foundation.)

The MK Award intends to offer cash and in kind support to promising artists working on special projects, and in doing so, it hopes to fill part of the hole left by Emmo and Karmin’s deaths. In their capacity as gallery owners and art lovers, Emmo and Karmin were known for their openness, support, and strong relationships with artists and the community alike. The award aims to recognize visual artists that “on the one hand are consistently creating an idiosyncratic oeuvre, keeping away from any hypes-of-the-day, but that on the other hand take an active attitude vis-à-vis contemporary issues”. The new MK Award Foundation will be officially announcing the prize at this year’s edition of Art Rotterdam. This announcement will be accompanied by fundraising efforts to grow support for the award, the goal being for the first recipients to be declared at the 2013 installment of Art Rotterdam.

Introducing the new prize, the MK Award Foundation will be presenting the MK Edition, a limited edition set of three portfolios featuring new print work by thirty former MKgalerie artists. Each 40x50cm portfolio comprises work by ten of these artists and will be for sale at the Foundation’s booth at Art Rotterdam. The artist-donated prints represent a cross section of the former gallery’s interests, showcasing diverse artistic practices, which range from colorful pixels to moody black and white photography, minimal abstraction to portraiture. Images of these exclusive artworks can be viewed here along with a list of represented artists.

(Pim Palsgraaf, in 'MK Edition Black,' courtesy of the artist and MK Award Foundation.)

Furthermore, the well-known Rotterdam gallery owner and consultant Tanya Rumpff has curated the MK Award Fundraiser Show, a “pop-up exhibition” uniting 29 former MKgalerie artists at Re:Rotterdam, a satellite art fair hosted at Boompjes 60-68 across the river from Art Rotterdam. A significant amount of the proceeds from this exhibition will go toward funding the future prize and realizing the goals of the MK Award Foundation.

--Andrea Alessi

Thank you to all of the art fairs, galleries, organizations, institutions, curators and artists who bring us this Rotterdam extravaganza.

For more information on our Special Edition packages featuring ArtSlant Insiders and Watchlist for galleries, artists and art services, please contact

Posted by ArtSlant Team on 2/27/12

Related articles:

Copyright © 2006-2013 by ArtSlant, Inc. All images and content remain the © of their rightful owners.