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Dutch culture invites Slovaks – and comes to them

“THE GROWING  co-operation between The Netherlands and Slovakia in the field of culture can be seen as an excellent tool,” Dutch Ambassador to Slovakia, Richard van Rijssen, told The Slovak Spectator. 

Curator, Roland de Jong Orlando, opens the Reductive NL exhibition (Source: Tomáš Hulík)

“It bridges gaps and fosters mutual understanding. The co-operation between our two nations dates back right to the start of the independence of the Slovak Republic when important Dutch musicians such as Jac van Steen and Jan Kleinbussink worked together with Slovak artists,” he added.

One of the musical events this year was the King’s Day Concert 2015 on April 27, marking the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander. The embassy in cooperation with Slovak institutions organised it, with Dutch David Porcelijn conducting the Slovak Radio Symphonic Orchestra, performing works by Slovaks - Ján Levoslav Bella and Vladimír Godár – and Dutch – Jeff Hamburg and Jan van Gilse – composers.

Dutch visual art

However, the embassy also supports other genres and in summer 2015, it participated in the 20th jubilee, year of the Statue and Object art festival which fills the galleries, and one outdoor garden of the capital with numerous works by Slovak and foreign artists.

The “Reductive NL” exhibition presented, until the end of July, works of 32 Dutch visual artists. Disproving the name of the festival, this collection – shown in the Umelka exhibition hall of the Slovak Union of Visual Arts – included also paintings and graphic artworks, apart from numerous objects and statues.

The sub-title of the exhibition, “4 generations of geometric-abstract art from the Netherlands”, may help create an idea of what visitors were able to see in two rooms – and the central hall – of Umelka. The four generations span the period of artists born between 1930s to 1980s.

“In the Netherlands a movement arose that initially was a proponent of rigorous systematics, after a brief decline followed by divergent views,” Piet Augustijn, art reviewer and former curator of contemporary art at the Gorcums Museum in Gorinchem, wrote in a bulletin. “By many artists of De Stijl (1920s to early 1930s), but later also individuals, a geometrical formal language was used which flourished later – in the 1960s and 1970s – especially as a response to the intense expressionistic manifestations of Cobra in the 1950s. The personality and the artist’s own handwriting were eliminated in order to realise artworks that were as neutral as possible.”

In the exhibition’s opening on June 25 (one in a series of 12 openings), the curator, Roland de Jong Orlando, also took part in person.

Plans for the EU Presidency    

“With our colleagues from the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture we are now working on our newest contribution to the tradition of joint musical projects,” van Rijssen said about future plans. “We would like to kick-off the [EU] Presidency year with a concert of contemporary Dutch and Slovak music. One of our best composers of these times, Micha Hamel, is preparing a special arrangement for this concert that will feature fujara played by a famous Dutch flutist. Slovakia will also present itself with innovative and modern pieces. Our collaboration will continue throughout the whole Presidency year with many other activities that we plan together such as joint exhibitions, virtual street portal created between Bratislava and Amsterdam, a major COBRA exhibition in Danubiana and many smaller and larger events.”

Topic: Foreigners in Slovakia


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