Kunstkamer in Delft

One of the Delft institutions that has been sadly missed for the past two years is the bi-annual Kunstkamer. Normally held in the spring and autumn, this year because of the restrictions, the spring one has just opened in September. The next one will be in November and hopefully next year the normal schedule will be re-established.

Twice a year Ramon Dykgraaf and his partner Marc Cals throw open the doors of their wonderful, rather eccentric, sixteenth century house on the grand Oude Delft canal to the public to show the work of half a dozen artists. The shows are organised along with Joke Doedens and Simone Haak who run Terra, a ceramics gallery in the city. Not surprisingly there is always a heavy bias in Kunstkamer, towards sculpture, especially of the ceramic type.

This year the show is dominated by the unmistakable work of Carolein Smit. Her intricate, brightly coloured and glazed pieces are figurative and have almost a grotesque religious edge to them. But there is also something primitive about them, something earthy that puts us in mind of ancient cults and primitive gods. Powerful stuff.

The two painters on show are Lotte van Lieshout  and Jorn van Leewen. Both have a very naïve feel to them. I liked van Lieshout’s  small oils on wooden panels and her large paper patchwork collage. Mr van Leewen’s still lives, usually of house plants, have a touch of David Hockney to them.

Pure ceramics are represented by the exquisite small pieces by Englishman Peter Beard whose colours and textures demand a caress.

But I think my favourites in the show were the small trompe l’oeil sculptures by Jeroen Henneman. They are almost like drawings but instead of using pencil lead they use strips of metal which, although more or less flat like a drawing, give the impression of being three dimensional. The work by this well-known Dutch artist is known as standing drawings. I really enjoyed them.

It is always a pleasure to visit Oude Delft 210 and see the eclectic work on display twice a year. By the time you read this you are probably too late for this show but do not fear, there’ll be another along in November.   Michael Hasted    18th September 2021