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Erik van Lieshout
Erik van Lieshout (Deurne, 1968) was trained at the art academy of Den Bosch and Ateliers ‘63. He makes, in addition to drawings and painting, video installations and films. His style is direct and his subjects are taken from the street, with initially a lot of sex and music.
Van Lieshout is interested in the human psyche, often in relationship to history and politics. With the exception of an interlude of eighteen months, during which he lived in Cologne, Van Lieshout works and lives in and with the city of Rotterdam. In 2003, Van Lieshout represented the Netherlands at the Biennial of Venice and in the summer of 2013 his work will again be seen in Venice during the exhibition ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’.
On 21 August 2011, he was the guest of the well-known Dutch VPRO television programme ‘Zomergasten’ [Summer Guests]. The conversation with Jelle Brand-Corstius is one of the best from the series.
The major exhibition of Erik van Lieshout in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen was entitled: ‘This can’t go on (Stay with me)’ and was held from 25 November 2006 to 4 February 2007.
Since October 2008, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Chabot Museum cooperate to have Rotterdam schoolchildren visit a museum at least once during their school time. Thanks to the financial support of the Turing Foundation, they can arrange a joint museum bus that collects the children from school and takes them home again. Thanks to this free bus transport a visit to the museum becomes much less intimidating and more accessible for ten thousand Rotterdam school children.
The Turing Foundation is a Dutch capital fund, founded by Pieter Geelen from the stock exchange yield of TomTom NV, that uses its money in the Netherlands to let more people enjoy poetry, classical music and museums.
Van Lieshout’s first film dates from 1999 and lasts 3 minutes. ‘EMMDM’ or 'Erik And Maarten Making Deutsch Mark’ is a short clip with hiphop music in which two gangsters, each with boxes on their heads and then as fake black men, complete with greasepaint and wig, race around in a beat-up Mercedes and experience all sorts of adventures. His most recent film is ‘Janus’ (51 min.) and deals with a deceased man from Rotterdam-Zuid who collected antiques. He films Janus’s family, neighbours and fellow citizens and thus creates a portrait of this unusual figure, and also raises questions about the role of the artist in society. What is art? What can art be and to what extend can politics (via money/subsidies) exert influence on art? In January 2013 ’Janus’ went into première at the Rotterdam Film Festival and won a Tiger Award.
In the framework of De Verbeelding [The Imagination] (a collaboration between the Mondriaan Fonds and the Dutch Film Fund), Popov Film will be producing Erik van Lieshout’s first feature film entitled: ‘Work’.
The toddlers Bregje is showing around are from the Mariaschool, a public primary school on the Taanderplein in Rotterdam which pays special attention to art. At school the children get lessons from the culture coach (Andrea Jacobs) about the museum’s collection and visit the museum several times each term to see the works in real life. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has strong links with many primary and secondary schools in Rotterdam and its suburbs and offers a wide, up-to-date and made-to-measure programme of tours and activities for school children and students.
Bregje of Boijmans TV clearly has no experience with showing children around the museum. Fortunately, the toddlers have a natural feeling for ‘strange things’ and don’t allow anything to spoil their fun.
Salvador Dalí and the surrealists
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has a wonderful collection of surrealists, for which the exhibition about Salvador Dalí in 1970 laid the basis. The exhibition was made by the first curator of modern art, Mrs. Hammacher-van den Brande (19 March 1913), who, as a Belgian art historian, had a slightly different orientation than her colleagues in the other Dutch museums. When mounting the Dalí exhibition, she came into contact with Edward James, an Englishman who, in the thirties, was close friends with the surrealists and owned major works by, in particular, Dalí and Magritte. Hammacher borrowed paintings from James’ collection, which was virtually complete and subsequently was given the opportunity of being the first to purchase work from it for the museum.
Otorhinologist Head of Venus
This ‘Otorhinologist head of Venus’ is a copy made by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in 1970 for the major Dalí exhibition. The original sculpture dates from 1964 and was not available or might even have been lost. This sculpture was made under the auspices of Dalí ‘il divino’ himself, but while the original ‘Otorhinologist head of Venus’ only had a square breast-plate (as do most busts of Roman emperors), this replica has acquired the breasts of the Venus de Milo.
Erik van Lieshout in collection Boijmans
Work by Erik van Lieshout in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen:
* Without title (drawing of masturbating girl), 1998
* Without title (drawing of hiphopper seen from behind), 1999
* EMMDM (video installation), 1999
* Without title (drawing Lil Kim), 2000
* High Society (drawing), 2000
* ZT (DJ, oil on canvas), 2000
* Respect (installation with carpets and video), 2003; on loan from Jan Gosveld, Valkensward
* Fantasy Me (installation with paper tent and video), 2004
* Der 4 Brüder Zweig der Rheinland (print), 2008-09
Surrealism and the subconscious
The origin of surrealism can be directly linked with the spread of the ideas of the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud about the subconscious as a treasure trove of forgotten and suppressed images and ideas. Human reason keeps the treasure trove locked and tries to lose the key, but once reason is disengaged (for example, in sleep, under hypnosis or under the influence of drugs), the door to the subconscious can swing open. From the time of the surrealists to our time, unlocking the subconscious has been an important aim of many artists in many disciplines.
Double Steel Cage Piece
The double cage which the toddlers enjoy so much is called Double Steel Cage Piece and is the work of the American artist Bruce Nauman from 1974. In episode 7 of Boijmans TV 2013 Bregje takes a group of German Shepherds with their masters to view this same work. The dogs, just like the toddlers, have no problem with the work, but the owners did not enjoy the experience of being locked up, in fact they found it unnerving.
Knowledge and experience generally go hand in hand: but not in art. Anybody with a lot of knowledge about art may, after all, sometimes neglect to really experience the work. And on the contrary, for a naive viewer, the coin drops immediately: knowledge comes immediately on the back of understanding. The toddlers who are taken on a discovery trip of the museum by tour guide Bregje in episode 8 of Boijmans TV 2013, really don’t need her words of wisdom. They are happy (so happy!) and show that by unconsciously grabbing their nose when they see that Salvador Dalí has made a mess of things with the goddess Venus.
Arie too is happy when he discovers Erik van Lieshout in the hole of Cattelan and can finally ask what the artist has been doing since his major exhibition in 2006. Van Lieshout explains what he is good at and suggests that he is not a strict artist but a social one; what’s more, there’s room for further growth. The question, however, is whether he will ever achieve the stature of the married couple who continually creep away from the enthusiastic toddlers and so shyly and hesitatingly admire Van Lieshout’s ‘Masturbating Girl’.
Boijmans TV is a collaborative project of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, RTV Rijnmond and Ro Theater, developed with support from the VSBfonds and the Mediafonds. The series is produced by the Rotterdam production office Popov Film.
Sander Burger (final editing)
Kuba Szutkowski (producer)
Dragan Bakema (creative producer)
Edgar Kapp (production manager)
Jetse Batelaan (director of tours)
Wilfried de Jong (concept and interviews)
Els Hoek (research and editing)
And many others.