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EXHIBITION

Review: Dutch Painters exhibited at newly opened Danubiana

Danubiana, a new gallery in Bratislava, has gotten many Slovak artists thinking. With the completion of Danubiana, funded in large part by a gift (reportedly in excess of one million dollars) from Dutch art admirer Gerard Meulensteen, they are imagining all the wonderful things they too could do with that kind of money.
Danubiana's first exhibition, Dutch Painters (1950 - 2000), will have to compete for the attention of its audiences with architect Peter Žalman's sublime building housing it. This brand-new oval modern masterpiece of glass and steel sits on a peninsula extending into a wide stretch of the Danube (with waves lapping at the grounds near the building it might be the closest thing to a seaside in Slovakia). Colourful and asymmetrical, Danubiana appears as artificial as the gray, communist housing blocks in the northern distance, but in stark contrast to them, gives nature a run for her money in the beauty department.


Danubiana on the river, designed by architect Peter Žalman.
photo: Richard Friedmann

Exhibition of Dutch painters (1950 - 2000)

When: September 10 to November 17, 10:00 to 20:00 daily (10:00 to 19:00 starting October 1)
Where: Danubiana (Čunovo)
Price: 30 Slovak crowns for children and students, 60 crowns for adults
Rating: 7 out of 10

Danubiana, a new gallery in Bratislava, has gotten many Slovak artists thinking. With the completion of Danubiana, funded in large part by a gift (reportedly in excess of one million dollars) from Dutch art admirer Gerard Meulensteen, they are imagining all the wonderful things they too could do with that kind of money.

Danubiana's first exhibition, Dutch Painters (1950 - 2000), will have to compete for the attention of its audiences with architect Peter Žalman's sublime building housing it. This brand-new oval modern masterpiece of glass and steel sits on a peninsula extending into a wide stretch of the Danube (with waves lapping at the grounds near the building it might be the closest thing to a seaside in Slovakia). Colourful and asymmetrical, Danubiana appears as artificial as the gray, communist housing blocks in the northern distance, but in stark contrast to them, gives nature a run for her money in the beauty department.

Inside, a large, open hall makes up the bulk of the building. A thick ramp leads up to the second floor where lies the gallery's largest exhibition room. Two of the building's nicest features are its towering ceilings and wide open spaces. No one likes to feel crowded in a museum; in this musuem it's an impossibility.

Against the crisp, white newness of the building's interior, the bright Dutch modern art looks fabulous, especially from a distance, like thick, colourful raindrops that left stains. Closer in, the paintings appear like psychological ink-blot tests. Some of the best are works by Ad Snijeder. In one of them I saw a priest with a bible, at which point my companion wondered out loud if I'd had a tough childhood.

Less abstract, but just as innovative are the works of Karel Appel. His use of geometric figures and simple color schemes in creating figures is both odd and beautiful, which would be a good title for the entire exhibition of paintings by the 14 Dutch artists.

On the first floor hang short pictures and biographies of the Dutch painters, one of several nice touches the gallery boasts. Free biscuits are offered on tables in a room also on the first floor. And in the true spirit of modernity, even the WCs seem to pose enigmatic questions. What does it mean that the female symbol is a circle sitting on the base of an inverted triangle, while the male's is a circle perched on the point of a right-side-up triangle?

To get there from the Old Town, drive across Nový most (New Bridge) and south through Petržalka until you arrive in Čunovo. From there, follow the signs to Gabčíkovo dam. If you are going by bus, take the 91 line from under New Bridge to Čunovo, where the dam is a short walk away.

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