Gijs Assmann I Guido Geelen I Wietske van Leeuwen
Johannes NagelMade in Holland 19.01 - 18.02.2023
Thinking of Holland / I see wide rivers / flowing slowly through / infinite lowlands
This line in four stanzas written by Hendrik Marsman (1899-1940) in 1936 is one of the most beautiful in the history of Dutch poetry. The Netherlands is a large delta of rivers with their source in Central Europe, which discharges infinite amounts of fresh water into the sea. For millennia, as it meandered through the landscape, the water has carried mud, silt and pulverised rock, which has settled in the bends of the rivers. Since time immemorial, brick factories have sprung up in those places where clay was in abundance. They produced the bricks with which the streets were paved, and with which the houses and churches were built. For centuries, clay has also been used for everyday utensils and ornamental objects. For sculptors it has proved the ideal material for rapid modelling. History has been written here with clay. It has made the Netherlands what it is today.
Many contemporary Dutch ceramic artists take the nation’s cultural heritage as a starting point:
Gijs Assmann (1966) is a versatile artist. He makes paintings and sculptures, often in ceramics.
He juggles both folk art, cartoons and high art in his work, His sculptures are often constructed from everyday utensils that tell stories about human emotions and the facts of life.
Sculptor Guido Geelen (1961) creates bricks and stacks them almost carelessly. By inserting test tubes, they suddenly become a Dutch tulip vase.
Wietske van Leeuwen
Ceramicist Wietske van Leeuwen (1965) uses all kinds of natural objects such as shells, fruit and vegetables to make impressions in clay. She uses them to build vases, bowls and boxes with meticulous precision. They are three-dimensional still lifes.
No beginning, no end – the eternal circle. One point moving at the same distance around another. The perfection of simplicity and an intellectual counterpoint to the line. The activity of hand-forming circular objects with clay so as not to be dependent on proximity to the waterhole is almost as old as thought itself. The cavity becomes independent. It soon stands on a foot and holds what cannot be held in the hands. It has neither a front nor a back but nevertheless shows very precisely what it means to be human. The rest is cultural history as work-in-progress. We are not yet at the end. The search continues and constitutes a trail of forms and silhouettes from the past into the future and back again. In the attempt to think in circles, the carousel of ideas picks up speed.