A colloquial reason for many to travel to the Netherlands is to get a whiff of the green stuff,however if this and Madame Tussaud’s are not for you, there is a great art scene to take advantage of on your visit. Amsterdam is a museum lover’s destination as much as the gallery goers; with a mixture of historical and contemporary you could spend up to week absorbing the culture, but only as long as the bike lanes don’t get on your nerves.
‘There Is No I’ at W139 Gallery
‘W139 explores the unknown; we value the freedom not to know.’
I first came acrossW139 on Warmoesstraat, close to the Red Light District and known as one of the oldest streets in the city. W139 sets out create new dialogues in art by taking artists out of their comfort zones into an experimental space. Focusing on painting and employing ‘energy, difference, theory and monochrome’ as categories of departure, the emphasis lies within the process of painting as opposed to the result. By expanding ideas around the processes of painting we can hope to extend the boundaries contemporary art is conformed to today. Featuring 20 international artists numerous works measured a large 3x5m, a staircase wall mural amongst smaller pieces and a ‘painting installation’. Many of the canvases may have been collaborations between two artists alongside approaches with performance such as Raymond Cuijpers kicking a painted football onto a constructed canvas goal.
The Stedelijk museum boasts some of the greats from the 20th Century to the present day, hosting contemporary art exhibitions alongside its permanent one all within an oversized bathtub architecture. Neighbouring Stedelijk is the Van Gogh Museum where during peak times you will find over four floors of tourists absorbing the Dutch masterpieces. For the price ticket of 15.00 euros you also witness a small display about methods of conservation and an insight into Van Gogh’s more successful contemporaries where he failed to make money attempting to fit in with commercial trends.
Not far from Museumplann is Vondelpark, a picturesque setting with complimentary sculpture from ArtZuid, an international sculpture exhibition hosted across this area of the city. These works by ArtZuid Junior were particularly playful and greatly enhanced my colour contrast bar and is a great encouragement for any young artists.
(We should do more of this in England).
‘Personal Codes of Conduct’at Torch Gallery, Jordaan
Personal Codes of Conduct alludes to the theme of our lives becoming increasingly digitised amongst the role of surfacing subcultures; each artist exhibited here visualises their online identity with a partially negative premise. Suzan Holen’s embroidered code communicates a paradox between constructive functionality and irrational feelings we may encounter as females using social media. Artist duo Pinar & Viola looked to emulate ‘the streets of the internet’ consisting of Trompe l’oeil Human Barbie Dolls with fantasy overlays. ‘I’ll Make You Feel Real’ is provocative of the height of narcissism we now encounter either on Instagram or embedded in the underground of net fetishes, almost verging on idolatry self love.
Do your own Human Barbie Overlay here: http://www.overlayer.com/u/pinar_viola
‘South Africa Art Now’at No Man’s Art Gallery
Towards the west of the city centre, slightly off the beaten path, I came across No Man’s Art Gallery who set out to represent scouted talent at their boundless pop-ups around the world. ‘South Africa Art Now’ presented a healthy variety of photography, installation, painting and prints representing a small body of young artists often confronting domestic subjects sensitive to display. Standing out from the exhibition is Hidokuhle Sobhekwz’s undiscovered photography documenting those he knew who have succumbed to addiction of Nyapope.Nicolene Van Der Walt’s deconstructed pig graves focuses on our role in consumerism and waste as well as challenging the animal’s stereotype using the medium of soap and site-specific soil to show the futility of the still-born piglet as a product.
Mia Chaplin’s minimal palette creates an expressive set of paintings with a sense of detachment. The voyeuristic nature of her work could be said to concentrate on the inner-self and our difficulty engaging with the outer world, visually communicating this through still lives and figurative portrayals.
Venturing outside the city to Amstelveen, the Cobra Museum is host to a large collection of contemporary art and more recently exhibiting a host of 1950’s masters from the Guggenhiem Museum. Wherever you visit in Amsterdam, you are bound to find yourself in a creative body depending on how far you scratch the surface. The majority of gems you may find in Jordaan, where the gallery art district is the most condensed in the city. Just remember to book tickets in advance for the largest museum attractions as we do not have the privilege of walking straight into them as we do here.