For centuries artists have been fascinated by circus performers of all kinds – Toulouse Lautrec, Picasso’s Harlequin portraits, Marc Chagall’s slightly naïve paintings, and Dame Laura Knight’s colourful work are all well-known. Britt van Eijk’s three-day exhibition of drawings, Drawn from Circus Rehearsals, is a perfect illustration of how the arts can overlap and feed off each other. She studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Art of The Hague and has undoubtedly benefited from the more recent bond between university and the creative and performing arts.
This is an excellent exhibition of fragile but beautiful drawings and Ms Van Eijk should be congratulated on presenting them in an impressive installation in what is a make-shift, temporary space.The centre piece, entitled Parade, spans the entire exhibition space. It consists of a large number of drawings, joined with strips of gauze, so the onlooker has the feeling of continuous action. The back wall of the exhibition space is mainly hung with the quick sketches. Mostly in executed in pencil, her drawings show the circus artists in full movement, many fleetingly capturing the performers in just a few lines, others are finely executed. Van Eijk’s work is very expressive but also very precise; her quick sketches reminded me strongly of James Ensor, but her observational wit comes close to Mervyn Peake’s work and his Gormenghast drawings – and that is a rare thing. Astrid Burchardt 24th March 2018