A new contemporary art gallery for Delft

Heleen Van Haaften in front of a work by Mario Moronti

Being the birthplace of Vermeer and the home of the famous blue porcelain Delft has a rich history in art. Apart from the Royal Delft factory there are several private ceramic studios/galleries in town and a few small picture galleries. What the city has not had is a gallery dealing in large scale contemporary art.

That situation has now been rectified by Heleen van Haaften who is opening her new Galerie Artline in the centre of Delft, a few meters from the Vermeer Center on the picturesque Voldersgracht.

Artline will specialize in abstract work by international artists and, although a new venture for Delft, it is not Heleen’s first gallery. In 1976 Heleen’s late husband, Bill Barends, opened a gallery in The Hague, in the Toussaintkade. The first one man show was of American Cy Twombly at the beginning of 1978. Since then the gallery has shown Blythe Bohnen, Max Bill, Enrico Castellani, Michael Goldberg, Giorgio Griffa, Frank Stella, Lon Pennock, Paul Citroen, Sjoerd Buisman and many others.

In 1995 the gallery moved to Bloemgracht in Amsterdam and in 2010 to Aalsmeer where it stayed until last year. Heleen then moved to Delft, where she had family, but it wasn’t long before she had the urge to open another gallery and the premises in the heart of Delft provided the ideal location.

Not only is Artline a gallery of fine contemporary art, it is also a gallery with a conscience. Although there will be mixed and one-person exhibitions a common theme will be evident throughout everything that happens at Artline. Heleen is passionate about sustainability and will expound her beliefs at every opportunity. Now, while Heleen concedes that very few people would throw away a piece of art, artists can do a lot to help save the planet. It is not uncommon for artists to re-cycle old canvases and paint over old pictures, but Heleen thinks a lot more can be done. “It’s not only the painting itself,” she says, “but it must have the message of sustainability. It’s a way of thinking that we must encourage in order to change it all.”

In the old days artists would use materials that were almost entirely organic. The oils were mainly obtained from plants and most pigments were obtained from plants or natural minerals. But in the last fifty years acrylic paints have become more and more prevalent and many pigments are now synthetic and produced industrially. But even Heleen is susceptible.  “Even I cannot entirely avoid plastics,” she said, indicating the pile of large canvases swathed in bubble-pack leaning on the walls, waiting to be hung.

Heleen and Artline aim to be a focal point for the artistic and cultural life of Delft and she is initiating a regular Artists’ Table at the wonderful De Waag, a café directly behind the city’s town hall on the main square.

The official opening of Artline at Voldersgracht 18 is on 29th May. Tickets are available for the first Artists’ Table on that date at €35.

Michael Hasted  24th May 2022

Listen to Heleen Van Haaften interviewed on ArtsTalk Radio