As you are probably aware, The Netherlands is currently celebrating De Gouden Eeuw, The Golden Age, the period covering most of the 17th century when the country was a world leader, excelling in art, science and trade. It was the time of Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruisdael, Frans Hals and, of course, Vermeer.
Johannes Vermeer was born, bred and worked in Delft and part of the local celebrations consist of an unusual outdoor exhibition in the very heart of the city, in the historic Agathaplein next to the Prinsenhof Museum. And you don’t get more appropriate than that – it was here that William of Orange was assassinated, an event which led to the creation of the Dutch Republic.
Supported by Gemeente Delft, curator Monique Roodenburg, along with artist and local gallery owner René Jacobs, has brought together twelve artists to demonstrate that the spirit and values of De Gouden Eeuware are alive and well in Holland.
Déjà vu, as the name suggests, pays homage, either directly or indirectly, to the Dutch masters. Most of the pictures are photographs so there are lots of still-lives and lots of portraits including a very fine reconstruction of Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring using a beautiful black model and, my favourite, a photo of white-faced, geisha-style Japanese girl sheathed in bubble wrap by Elizabeth Koning. All of the works are of an incredibly high standard and quality and certainly do justice to, and continue the legacy of, their forebears. What I did notice, though, was that there were no landscapes.
The seventeen pictures are displayed in three meter high, rather cumbersome grey plastic advertising units. Each is illuminated from the inside making maybe dusk the best time to view the exhibition. The Agathaplein is open twenty-four hours a day but the display boxes are only lit until eleven at night. Well worth seeing, especially as there are plans to redevelop the area and it may not remain in its present form for much longer. Michael Hasted 7th September 2019
Déjà vu is free, open every day and continues until 6th October