Once inside the Rotterdam Laurens church (see Laurenskerk) my visit to Rotterdam’s international art fair started. I passed from boot, to stall, to wall full of contemporary art. The church with its rich past was the perfect background for an art fair. But most of the art was not as impressive as the church.
Much seemed hardly better than what you can buy off many street artists. There were examples of themes, interpretations, executions, fit for pop-up shops or Ikea. Quite a few artists showed work full of pretensions. Some art was definitely not original. Some artists lacked talent. Fortunately, there were exceptions! The small bronze sculptures of dancing people by Natasja van den Eng were pleasing.
However, at the beginning of this art fair, my attention was captivated by a series of sculptures made from glass panels. The artist’s daughter explained how her mother created these wonderful sculptures from ordinary, salvaged window panes. One of the few artists at the fair, who used salvaged material.
I simply fell in love with the cat. I was told this sculpture can be ordered in various sizes. Another visitor admired the cat’s “yoga posture”. Other work looked like angels’ wings. Marielle Braanker’s stall with exhibited creations was one of two stalls, which really impressed and pleased me.
The other stall was the one exhibiting paintings by Chiara Castagna. A portrait of an older woman bobbing lace caught my eye. This is an art one now seldom sees. The portrait looked quite sparkling, with a gold leave pattern used as a background. Ms Chastagna told me her patron had asked for a lighter background than the painter herself usually prefers.
Then I noticed copies of famous paintings which really made me laugh. One was a perfect copy – but for the headphone and Whistler’s mum snapping her fingers to the music. There were more examples of tongue-in-cheek humour. Leonardo da Vinci’s lady and her hermine shared a painting with two other Renaissance icons. These three ladies were having a conversation. Was it about the painters, the latest fashion, being allowed a second life in this painting?
There were also interesting experiments. I found a series of portraits of a head very interesting. The same head was painted with a series of facial expressions. The colour-range was subdued and limited, but most striking were the blank eyes. Facial expressions can of course be masks.
Ms Castagna’s interesting paintings and Marielle Braanker’s glass sculptures were what made my visit worthwhile. If it hadn’t been for these two outstanding artists, a visit to this international Rotterdam art fair would have been an utter waste of time for me.