By investing in young artists, we invest in a richer cultural future – that was the message at the opening of the 25th Art Rotterdam fair.
At a preview event at the Van Nelle factory, where the art fair takes place from Thursday to Sunday, leading figures stressed to the parties forming a government that it is essential to support developing artists.
Eelco van der Lingen, director of the Mondriaan Fund – a public cultural fund presenting the work of 86 artists sponsored in 2022 – said he was concerned. “We are going through difficult times at the moment,” he said. “The political climate as well as the world at large is not necessarily one that brings great joy. Young artists give us hope, energy, new ideas, help us develop further. It [is] clear how important these young artists are, the value they bring events like to Art Rotterdam and also to the art world in the Netherlands as a whole.”
Some subsidies go to international artists – something opposed by nativist political parties in the Netherlands – but Fons Hof, director of Art Rotterdam, stressed that this had direct benefits in the Dutch art world, in quality, galleries and sales.
“Art is an important part of experiencing life, enriching our environment, and it is fantastic that a government supports this,” he told Dutch News. “For young artists, it is very difficult to start without subsidies. The Netherlands has top-quality education – the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, De Ateliers, Rijksakademie, the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht and all of that feeds our art.
“Art Rotterdam, which is a commercial enterprise, profits enormously from these artists. International artists often stay in the Netherlands, and it is hugely important for the quality of art here and for the field.”
But others said that they were concerned about the future. The Party for Freedom (PVV) which won the largest number of votes in November elections and is attempting to form a government, wants to scrap cultural subsidies.
Ron Mandos, founder of the Galerie Ron Mandos and chairman of the Young Blood Foundation, was presenting a show of 25 young artists at Art Rotterdam. “It’s good that politics knows what’s happening [in the art scene] at the moment,” he said.
“I’m a little bit afraid with the new government – hopefully it will not succeed. I think it’s so important to keep investing in young artists and not to cut the budgets. That’s why I’m a little afraid.”
The show, open for previews on Wednesday, includes a section called Artistic Matter, featuring the work of Tomáš Libertíny, from Slovakia and Rotterdam, who guides bees into producing extraordinarily-shaped beehives such as “Eternity”, like a head of Nefertiti.
There is a series of public events and talks connected with Art Rotterdam, an NN Art Award will be presented on Thursday, and international gallery stands are joined by monumental pieces outside – such as Marcel Mrejen’s Cottagecore, an installation with the sounds of Dutch greenhouses and Dré Wapenaar’s Tentvillage-Revisited.
Prospects, which presents artists given a subsidy of €20,000 by the Mondriaan Fund, is being shown at the factory for the twelfth time. One of its beneficiaries Korean-Amsterdam artist Yang-ha, whose paintings represent semi-cartoonish, cloud landscapes, said her art is a way of processing conflict. “I was inspired by North Korean bombing, which I saw from the Netherlands,” she said. “The moment of the explosion is beautiful, but behind it is the violence.”
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation