Date 31.12.2018

2018’s spookiest winter art tale! – Photos by Chris Jason and text by OG

Once upon a time, Het Nijenhuis Castle was the residence of the prestigious Dutch art collector Dr. Dirk Hannema (1895-1984) and founder of the Museum De Fundatie, housing his foggy, sculptured garden. Since his death, all that remains in the castle is a permanent collection of statues, the silent cast of a play that was never written. Our recent family visit this Christmas was hazy. Our first steps required keeping a close eye on our maps to avoid getting lost, and though I didn’t see any MISSING PERSON posters on the barren trees, there was an underlying spookiness all over.

I wondered who would dare to approach the absurd, hibernating art, all tied up in body bags. What forms remained so kinkily dressed up waiting for spring signs in order to finally undress and let the light travel into their inner depths again and again?

Wrapped art waiting to expose itself perversely, waiting to shock viewers unexpectedly – flasher for the English-speaking visitors and potloodventer in Amsterdam’s Dutch. What first caught my eyes wasn’t the hermetic fabric choice (a smoky washed grey, waterproof cloth, with what I would imagine to be the right protective properties) but rather the tension created by the tight, wet cords immortalizing the hidden with utmost perfection. Sculptures wrapped head-to-toe exhibiting themselves in full blindness and expert silence, as though waiting to shock the viewers wearing their uniform winter coats.

Unless giant mega structures scare you, Tom Klassen’s pile of simil stones, Mikel, 2017, feels like your guardian angel throughout the journey. A gentle custodian of the garden that seems suddenly small when considered against Mikel’s dimensions.

Aside from the wild ducks landing around the 17th century castle’s moat, no one knows what happens here at night. Perhaps all these submissive sculptures come to life. Free to those brave viewers daring to join the symphony of holy figures, this visit was one of the best spontaneous museum trips I have seen under the open-air Dutch skies. There is nothing like art compulsively seeking attention to make for a suspenseful afternoon stroll and to guarantee the visitors return in the spring, summer and autumn to discover the unseen and more.

Wishing you art & all for 2019!