That the Dutch have produced exceptional art over the last few centuries, we already know. But what about the contemporary art scene? Who stands out and who is making their way into history? Amsterdam, as well as other major Dutch cities, is home to many must-see galleries that put on great exhibitions – often, by talented and creative people from all over the Netherlands. With so many contemporary Dutch artists excelling here and abroad, you will find it easy to bump into their work from major museums, like Stedelijk, to smaller and independent galleries like KochxBos Gallery and Nederlands Fotomuseum.
Here, I gather five upcoming and experienced Dutch artists who are catching worldwide attention and invariably, doing justice to the art history of the Netherlands.
“Pushing people to think about the future”, Roosegaarde says, is the aim of his works. This award-winning artist and innovator made his name in the contemporary art scene with the installation “Dune”, back in 2006. The interactive landscape fist shown in Rotterdam, alongside the Maas River, opened doors for this artist obsessed with technology, design and architecture. Through his works, Roosegaarde tries to envisage a futuristic world where technology and people coexist for a better living. From February until May 5th the Rijksmuseum will be exposing Roosegaarde’s “Lotus Dome” in the Beuning Room. This 2-metre high dome reacts to human behavior; hundreds of aluminium flowers blossom with the warmth of a visitor.
Levi van Veluw
Creating art in a conventional way doesn’t seem to be enough for van Veluw, originally from Hoevelaken. Though photography, sculptures, drawing and installations are part of his portfolio, making a canvas out of himself is one of his signature works. Not by chance, his first acclaimed exhibition in Amsterdam, which took place in Galerie Ron Mandos in 2008, displayed a series of six photographs in which he presented precisely detailed drawings made with a ballpoint pen. The surface? His own face. The relationship between body and surface had been explored by post-war artists who shed light on performance art like never before. But the use of ordinary objects to create art, such as an everyday pen, has played a big part on this artist’s success. By embracing this concept with his own personal style, van Veluw has been able to showcase his work to the world in major museums and take Dutch contemporary art to the international stage.
Toni Van Tiel
After graduating in 2007 in Fine Art from St.Joost, an institution based in the small southern city of Breda, this young artist has been developing interesting projects – like his current “Tweet Sculpture”. Since 2012 he has been running a Twitter account in which he “tweets ideas for sculptures using 140 characters”. One of his ideas, for instance, is to create “the portrait picture of a botoxed beauty enlarged to fill a 4-story inner-city wall”. Others are slightly more abstract, such as constructing “shadows with growing pains”. He also plays with less adventurous projects like his series of drawings containing (more) ideas for sculptures. Is tweeting an artistic process? For Van Tiel the answer appears to be yes.
This Dordrecht artist uses photography as her primary medium to produce sculptures, installations, books and takeaway pamphlets. Yes, you got it right. Sometimes, she creates anonymous pieces (like posters and postcards) to enable the audience to take them home. Stedelijk Museum is currently exhibiting a (non-takeaway) work she developed together with fellow Dutch artist Paulien Oltheten. Their installation on the ground floor presents their interpretation of street photography and emphasises their fascination for people and strangers. Another aspect of life that attracts her attention is colour. And by using a method of colour gradation she “creates order in its chaos”, as she describes. “Enclosed content chatting away in the color invisibility” is a work that speaks for her.
Although this artist has been around the block for a while now, with her first exhibitions dating from the early 90s, it is hard to dismiss Harma Heikens when speaking of contemporary Dutch art. Her near-life-size sculptures are a cross between Manga comic strips and the personification of modern street art. Some people refer to her work as “bizarre kitsch” as digesting it might not be so easy, especially for first-time viewers. That is because she deals with a very sensitive subject: the exploitation of children in a consumerist society where values are constantly damaged. Her sculptures portray the violated world of poor and exploited children, acting as a severe wake up call for viewers on deep-rooted societal issues.