Museum Rijswijk is one of my favourite places as it never fails to surprise and enchant with its exhibitions and ambiance. This time the museum has given over its entire ground floor main room  for To the Edge of Your World, a huge installation by Anita Groener, her reward for having been voted the most popular participant in the museum’s 2022 Paper Biennale.

This exhibition once again demonstrates that size matters. The outstanding aspect of this installation is that the individual components are small, very small. And that is where the strength lies, much as the monumental scale of Anselm Kiefer’s work over at Voorlinden is an important factor in the work.

At first, Groener’s very delicate series of pieces appears charming, even nostalgic and maybe a little obsessive. Her multiple creations  are constructed from tiny twigs about the size of match sticks, fashioned into what resembles miniature cages or baskets, some but not all ornamented by dried grasses or leaves. There are over four hundred of them lined up on a narrow shelf around the gallery. A large table arranged diagonally across the room is laid out with similar tiny bits and pieces.

The artist’s inspiration comes from trees – trees that had a life, trees that have died, decayed, crumbled to mere piles of twigs that most people would simply crush underfoot on a nature walk. But Anita Groener lets these seemingly insignificant remnants show off a new beauty and live again, each one individual but part of a greater group identity.

Anita Groener is a Dutch artist who has spent much of her long career in Ireland as lecturer and head of the Faculty of Visual Arts in Dublin. Also on show are small intricate drawings made up of gossimar-fine black ink lines. Her body of work covering many other aspects, both social as well as political, is included in collections worldwide.

We had gone to Museum Rijswijk specifically to see the Anita Groener but while we were there discovered something equally interesting. Upstairs in the smaller rooms is a delightful exhibition of Hermanus Berserik (1921-2002). The museum is showing a large collection of the prolific artist’s work many of which it owns. He was a wonderful painter, print maker, illustrator of books and for advertising as well as teaching at the Royal Academy of Fine Art. Born in The Hague, he lived and worked in the gardener’s house of the De Voorde estate in Rijswijk .

Many of Berserik’s paintings are quirky and humorous, primitive almost, others slightly surreal. Some of my favourites were his paintings or prints of clowns, of his young son wearing funny hats or two absurd looking cyclists. Berserik appears to have found his subject matter in his immediate environment, also drawing attention to even the most ordinary items, such as a chest with a few bottles or slightly dimly lit Dutch landscapes.

These exhibitions are highly recommended as is a visit at any time to the excellent Museum Rijswijk.   Astrid Burchardt 13th February 2024

Both exhibitions continue at Museum Rijswijk until 7th April