Exhibitions Preview: three artists at the Hallen, Haarlem

Some claimed it was Donald Trump’s inauguration’s bad influence. Everyone is by now familiar with that man’s short fuse. On the other hand: it might have been the neighbours. Guests to the three exhibitions opening at the Hallen in Haarlem, were welcomed – in darkness.

The darkness could have been part of the three modern art exhibitions opening there. It certainly heightened the expectancy of guests. Fortunately, the power cut affected half the museum, though that half contained two of the three new temporary exhibitions.

Richard Tuttle, Kaspar Bosmans, Evelyn Taocheng Wang exhibit at The Hallen Haarlem

Richard Tuttle, Kaspar Bosmans, Evelyn Taocheng Wang exhibit at The Hallen Haarlem

A power cut, even if affecting half the museum, is a major nightmare for any museum. It is a major nightmare and headache for a museum like the Hallen, which focusses on modern art include video art, installations, works needing electricity.

Nevertheless: one floor up and guests were bathed in light. It was an international crowd and did not just consist of locals. There were young artists and students from Germany, as well as from France and Belgium and other countries. But then: the artists were also an international bunch: Belgian, American, Chinese.

About then minutes after my arrival, the official opening started with an artist talk. American artist Richard Tuttle answered questions posed by Phillip Van den Bossche, director of Mu.zee at Oostende in Belgium. The fascinating interview gave so much food for thought,  it would have sufficed as a stand-alone-event!

Fortunately, when this talk drew to a close, the whole museum had electricity again. All three fascinating exhibitions could be admired. De Hallen director Ann Demeester and Xander Karskens, involved with the three exhibitions as former curator at the Hallen but now artistic director at the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen, joked the blackout must have been related to the Dump’s inauguration (by then over and done with) and the arctic blast blowing through Europe’s art and culture scene. If so, the future looks bright: we arrived in darkness, heard wise words from Richard Tuttle and the other speakers, and this was followed by power, energy, sound, light, movement restored.

On the first floor of the Hallen, two of several exhibition spaces, are dedicated to works by Belgian artist Kaspar Bosmans. Bosmans has had several exhibitions including in Brussels and New York.

In the period building, the large hall is filled with new works created by Richard Tuttle. Richard Tuttle called himself “grand dad” compared to young talents like Bosmans and the third artist. Works by Evelyn Taocheng Wang can be found in the exhibition space in the attic of the period building. Wang was awarded the Dutch Volkskrant and BNG Cultuurfonds prize in December 2016.

Of the three exhibitions, the one with works by Richard Tuttle impressed me most. Nevertheless: all three are must-experience ones. The exhibitions show works of very different artists who use different media and focus on different aspects and art. Yet, they are all linked. For a start, all three artists used history and the history of the Hallen, as one of their inspirations.

Kaspar Bosmans

Works by Kaspar Bosmans at the Hallen, Haarlem

Works by Kaspar Bosmans at the Hallen, Haarlem

Kaspar Bosmans drew inspiration from two birds: the Crane and the Ibis. In the artwork on display, history, symbolism, imagery are explored. Thus his larger painting are related to medieval heraldic shields. As a kind of anthropological artist, Bosmans uses various materials and means, traditional crafts and objects, folklore and history to create new myths.

Evelyn Taocheng Wang

As with Kaspar Bosmans’ exhibition, Evelyn Taocheng Wang’s “Allegory of Transience” is shown in two rooms. In one, she explores space and limitation related to the Dutch Beguinages, using tulip images. In this room are also paintings juxtaposing Chinese traditional art and Dutch Golden Age images.

Part of the Vanitas work by Evelyn Taocheng Wang at the Hallen Haarlem

Part of a Vanitas by Evelyn Taocheng Wang at the Hallen Haarlem

The other room contains an interview and videos, in which she explores the symbol of the nude in the Dutch Golden Age and modern context. Evelyn Taocheng Wang contrasts male perceptions, history, female subjects. Later this year, she will also exhibit at the Frans Hals Museum. Haarlem. Thus contrasts between male perceptions and historical places linked to female subjects will be illustrated. Later this year, she will have another exhibition, at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem. For information on future exhibitions of all three artists, scroll down.

Richard Tuttle

Richard Tuttle talking to a guest at his exhibition opening at the Hallen, Haarlem

Richard Tuttle talking to a guest at his exhibition opening at the Hallen, Haarlem

The exhibition which drew me back several times during the preview, was Richard Tuttle’s series of works. It is situated in the old hall of the period building, on ground-floor level. In the artist talk, he compared this exhibition to the Rococo Art and movement. But it was a peace, stillness, in combination with the space, white walls, black and natural cloth and hemp cords – among other things – which impressed.

Tuttle referred to the space of this hall and the fact that its pillars influence not just the exhibition space, but also art displayed in this space. His use of materials is related to the town’s history and the period building, traditional crafts and much more. His idea is that art relates to the inner life of visitors and humanity in general. This implies that each visitor will react to his works on display, in his or her unique, intuitive manner. My response to Tuttle’s works, which are open to many interpretations, was such that I will certainly visit this exhibition several times, before this exhibition closes.

Future exhibitions by these artists

The solo exhibitions of Richard Tuttle, Evelyn Taocheng Wang and Kaspar Bosmans can be visited from the 21st of January till the 7th of May 2017 at the Hallen in Haarlem. As several international guests at the preview remarked: Haarlem is full of interesting period buildings, galleries, museums and can be easily reached by intercity train from Amsterdam. The Hallen Museum lies within walking distance of Haarlem’s main train station.

At the Frans Hals Museum, Evelyn Taocheng Wang will exhibit her series “A Home Made Travel MV” from the 25th of March till the 20th of August 2017.

On leaving, I met Ann Demeester and Phillip Van den Bossche. As mentioned during the artist talk, Richard Tuttle will have another exhibition. It will take place at Philip van den Bossche’s Mu.zee in Oostende, in Belgium. Here, Richard Tuttle will explore and respond to the use of colour in paintings by Belgian artist James Ensor. Ann Demeester will take care of the artist talk there.

The Mu.zee exhibition will open to the public on the 1st of July and run till the 5th of November 2017. It’s title is “Richard Tuttle, James Ensor’s ‘real’ color”. Richard Tuttle has been exploring this theme since 2015.

If Xander Karskens is as good as his word, Kaspar Bosmans might soon exhibit at the Amstelveen Cobra Museum.

De Hallen, Haarlem, the Netherlands
Mu.Zee, Oostende, Belgium
Cobra Museum, Amstelveen, the Netherlands

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