Marilou van Lierop Momentary Cracks 2019, oil and pencil on canvas. 210x151cms at Frank Taal

A group of ten Rotterdam galleries have got together with Art Index Rotterdam to create Art Central, an occasional event whereby they join forces to create a little circuit, perhaps outside normal opening hours, whereby the public is able to wander from one gallery to another in a leisurely manner. This is the event’s second manifestation. All the galleries are within a ten minute radius so it is quite possible and comfortable to see everything in a couple of hours.

We were first at Zerp Galerie where their Salon d’Hiver was an almost overpowering display of all the gallery artist hung from floor to ceiling. There are two distinct strands running throughout the work the gallery shows. Firstly there is a lot of landscape or landscape related work. Prominent among these were the atmospheric photos of Dutch landscapes by Saskia Boelsums and the Monet-like photos of water by Bart van Damme who specializing in photographing things from above.  The other strand at Zerp is photography – oh, and perhaps a third, the grotesque. The work of Virgilius Moldovan, especially the larger than life size baby’s head, was very disturbing, but in a good way.

As I said, the amount of work on show was almost over-whelming but for me the stand-out pieces were by Rob Buelens. Described as scale models, he takes small objects trouvé – a velvet glove, a tall wooden pepper mill, an old coffee grinder or a teapot and inserts them, beneath a glass dome, into Gulliver-like scenes where they become part of an elaborate building or structure being utilized by dozens of tiny, ant-like Lilliputian figures.

Just round the corner, at Cokkie Snoie, it was a completely different kettle of fish. Even by minimalist standards this was quite sparse. The Vibeke Mascini show was dominated by Salvage, an old player piano with bits added and I really liked Instituut voor Huisgeluid, a series of six poster-like works extolling and explaining various sounds like click, peep, creek.

Two other minimalistic shows over at Josephstraat where Joey Ramone was showing David Možný and next door the Contour was showing Aristotle Roufanis. To enter Joey Ramone one was obliged to negotiate a maze created by venetian blinds before being confronted by what was a virtual roller-coaster of metal and leather chairs. The Contour show was also more of an installation. This symphonie en noir showed five large cityscape photos that were virtually black hanging on black wall. The only respite from the night were a few tiny lit windows in the darkened buildings. Powerful stuff.

Across the square, the Galerie Atelier Herenplaats showed its usual eclectic mix of work created on the premises by artists with learning difficulties – and some very nice pieces there were too.

Finally it was along the road to Frank Taal Gallery who was showing mixed media pictures, some unusual prints on glass and a few objects by Antwerp-based Marilou van Lierop. The large canvases use oil paint and pencil to create what are mostly crowd scenes with lots of people doing lots of things, some of them looking a bit naughty. The effect is almost Hieronymus Bosch as there are some strange creatures hidden in there too. I really liked these.

Some of the shows are just opening and some are just closing so it would be wise to check before setting out. I didn’t manage to get to RAW Streetphoto Gallery, Galerie Christian Ouwens, OMI or Phoebus who were also taking part. There will be another Art Central during Art Rotterdam in the middle of February.    Michael Hasted     13th January 2020