DAVE DE LEEUW at Hoorn & Reniers in The Hague

Dave de Leeuw, Meeting the moon (detail), 120 x 280 cm, oil on canvas

There was a time when paintings, commissioned by the church told stories, gave guidance or served as warnings to the illiterate masses. Later the striving for sublime beauty and romanticism took over. Not long after, the Expressionists used their work as sharp political tools until cold abstractions came to dominate. But with the arrival of a new wave of German Expressionists who had grown up during or in the aftermath of the horrors of WW2, everything was turned upside down, literally in Baselitz’s paintings.

This exhibition at the Hoorn & Reniers gallery illustrates that more recent artists, having been brought up in a culture where abstract art has dominated too long, are looking to the German expressionists as their models par excellence. They are reclaiming the right to do figurative work. Dave de Leeuw is no exception – his paintings are complex compositions which remind me of very personal nightmare images, with over-size heads and hands emerging here and there with their own mysterious agendas.

Some of the smaller paintings strongly reminded me of Baselitz’s controversial Die Grosse Nacht im Eimer of 1962 which was confiscated before it could be seen by the public. Especially impressive are Dave de Leeuw’s drawings. ‘The man really can draw,’ said my companion. The works with expressive black lines with only a dash of colour, seemingly unfinished, are all the stronger for it. In his large paintings small, often delicate details surround the main subject, tiny almost Bosch-like grotesque figures are watching – they appear to be the spectators of the main, nightmarish event depicted on the canvas.

This is the third exhibition I have seen in which the Hoorn & Reniers gallery demonstrates its commitments to this energetic and content-rich style of work.

Highly recommended.      Astrid Burchardt,    28th October 2018