Between May 13th through the 17th, Amsterdam featured 120 of the most influential galleries in contemporary art. Located in the RAI, a convention center primarily recognized for its dance and sporting events, was a grandeur selection of life size installations, sketches, photography, abstracts, and sculptures (to name a few). Art enthusiasts from all over gathered to experience a fascinating assortment from both Dutch and other international works. Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark, South Africa, and Korea were just a few of the countries represented alongside The Netherlands.
Due to the extraordinary amount of work displayed, Jan Henderikse, Iris Frerichs, and Efrat Zehavi were handpicked (by yours truly) as some of the most thought provoking and unforgettable featured at Art Amsterdam. This is not to in any way undermine other artists, but to simply show a portion of Holland’s finest.
95% of men’s thoughts are about sex. 95% of mine are about art.
Money Money Money
Disorderly. Evocative. Brilliant.
Jan Henderikse’s Shredded Money valiantly challenges tradition.
At first glance, Henderikse’s work is rather difficult to comprehend: A mountain of shredded U.S. currency, Curacao license plates, lit up Mother Teresa figures, quotes from the Village Voice surrounded by neon lighting; the list goes on. Like his materials, his method is just as random:
I use a lot of materials; whatever I’m interested in…They’re just simple objects from life…
To classify Henderikse’s work as Pop Art, or Kitsch would be all too easy. His aesthetics communicate a reality lacking any clear definition; it is informal, unsystematic, and esoteric: Perhaps this is the allure. It seems as if Henderikse’s art is influenced by objects used in his everyday life. Through his materials we see reality and what he makes of it.
When evaluating a pile of shredded dollars one must wonder if there is a deeper social and political message: Is Henderikse’s intention to suggest the cruel and dismal nature of the current global economy? Or is this abstruse creation merely art for art’s sake? What about a quote that reads:
If this is your name and you sport and dancing bear tattoo, I have been back looking for you. I read “On the Road.” Great book. Call Brenda.
What can we make of this?
Put simply, Henderikse’s art is experimental and cutting-edge; exactly the way art should be.
Judy Straten Galerie, Horst
Iris Frerichs skillfully combines lyrical abstraction with an architectural twist.
In this exhibit, Frerichs delivers the aesthetic equivalent of a metropolitan jungle. The visual magnitude and complexity is of epic proportions. Her use of material is multifaceted and dare I say inspiring. Duct tape, paper, ink, markers, adhesive, natural fibers, and a UV protection spray are ingeniously combined to create urban illusions much like the painting displayed above. The form, composition, and construction of materials encourage the spectator to consider themselves as being part of this complex, industrial landscape. Her systematic, subtle use of bright colors draws attention to the naked eye, whilst leaving one to question the method behind her “madness.”
While the reasoning behind her work remains ambiguous, Frerichs’s evokes the spectator to deeply connect to this labyrinth of conceptual symmetry and create their own story.
Onno van Toor, Rotterdam
Undeniably one of the most theatrical exhibits showcased at Art Amsterdam was Efrat Zehavi’s Pleader’s Prayer. The installation presented an extraordinary amount of activity, devoid of conventionality.
An Israeli native, Zehavi aimed to capture the tension and adversity many immigrants face when attempting to start a life in Holland:
It’s about the power of politics; the power of religion and how it’s reflected in personal life…
Through this mixed media installation, Zehavi relentlessly explores the grueling, arduous nature of immigration policy. She provokes the spectator to question the unremitting struggle between those in political power and those who are politically powerless.
Contorted figures made of wax, paint, wire, and plaster were suspended from a plethora of wooden chairs, flimsily standing on top of one another. The faces were distorted, lurid, and somewhat menacing. Their dismal appearance emphasized human struggle and tortuous emotion. Amidst this melancholic décor, were television screens rapidly displaying these decapitated, dissembled, grotesque figures in rather compromising positions. Many of the characters represented Dutch politicians: specifically, anti-immigration politicians. Directly above the display sits the advocate: the protector of all humankind (Zehavi 2009).
Another striking trait was the subtle, profound addition of A Walk to Caesaria playing in the background. Originally sang in Hebrew, the lyrics intended to highlight the political and social tension between the oppressor and the oppressed:
My God, my God,
May these things never end
The sand of the sea
The rustle of the waters
Light of the heavens
The prayer of man
In both mind and heart, the exhibit evoked a plethora of emotions. If conveying a powerful message was the mission, then mission accomplished.
For more information on these artists and Art Amsterdam, please visit the following websites: