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Two exhibitions show that art and gardening go together very well★★★☆☆ and ★★★★★

Exhibitions in Utrecht and The Hague highlight the fruitful relationship between artists and gardens, but also the difficult relationship between man and nature.

‘On the necessity of art and gardening’ is the subtitle of the exhibition in the Centraal Museum. If anything shows that necessity, it is the photos of Henk Wildschut, whom you encounter in one of the last rooms. In the series Rooted Wildschut recorded how people in refugee camps create the most beautiful gardens with very few resources. Someone has carefully constructed a fence around a tent in a desert landscape with plastic bottles filled with sand. A rose bush that grows from an old can of cooking oil. Surprisingly, Wildschut found no vegetable gardens, but mainly flowers and ornamental plants with a symbolic meaning.

Patricia Kaersenhout: ‘Of Palimpsests and Erasure’, edited pages by the 18th-century scientist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (2021),Statue Gert-Jan van Rooij

In The Botanical Revolution, about the fertile relationship between artists and gardens, you will find more such moving images. The exhibition has been in the making for some time, but feels extra urgent after 1.5 years of corona. Anyone who was lucky enough to have a piece of greenery or a balcony during the lockdowns, knows just like the makers of the gardens in Rooted how much beauty and comfort that can offer. At the same time, in Utrecht you can see how artists use the garden as a metaphor to question the often difficult relationship between man and nature.

The exhibition excels in combining old art and objects from earlier times with work by contemporary artists, mainly living and working in the Netherlands. A number of them made new work for the exhibition. This approach convincingly demonstrates how our thinking about the garden is always a reflection of a wider world view. And also: how that keeps tilting over time.

In the room about science and nature, for example, you will find a copy of the beautifully illustrated book that the 18th-century naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian made on the occasion of a trip to Suriname. Merian not only had an eye for the insects she was investigating there, on the open page she refers to the conditions of enslaved women in the country. She notes which herbal mixture women use to abort their children, so that they do not have to endure the violence of the Dutch.

The fact that these enslaved women and their knowledge of nature have largely been erased from history is the starting point for a series of prints by Patricia Kaersenhout. She disrupted Merian’s pages by blurring the colors of the images and she supplements the image with images of black and Javanese women in the same soft colors. It is as if their first invisible figures slowly emerge from the pages.

At a gardening exhibition you also hope to be able to feel something of the vibrancy and splendor of a garden. However, the photographs and paintings on display, with the occasional video or installation, are subdued and exude tranquility. Maybe a little too much, which makes the whole thing a bit flat after a while. You miss a heavy rain shower or gust of wind to shake things up.

Yet The Botanical Revolution successful: fresh, nuanced and based on in-depth research. You will not be thrown to death with that research, the works of art are given all the space in the museum rooms. For those who want to dig deeper, there is an eager catalog of essays and a garden ABC.

Work by Milena Bonilla, inspired by Rosa Luxemburg's herbarium, in the exhibition Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers? in Nest, The Hague. Statue Charlotte Markus

Work by Milena Bonilla, inspired by Rosa Luxemburg’s herbarium, in the exhibition Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers? in Nest, The Hague.Statue Charlotte Markus

Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers?

Parallel to the The Botanical Revolution in art space Nest in The Hague is the exhibition Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers? to see. An extra chapter of the exhibition in the Centraal Museum, which can also be viewed separately. As the title suggests, the issue here is whether you can reconcile radical politics with a love for something as frivolous as flowers.

It produces a surprising amount of beautiful and sparkling work. Heartbreaking is the installation that Milena Bonilla made based on the herbarium of the Polish-Jewish activist Rosa Luxemburg, who was murdered in Berlin in 1919. In a dark room, the artist projects slides of pages from Luxembourgish herbarium, together with fragments from the letters she wrote in prison. Captivity or not, in her letters her spirit appears: beautifully she writes about the golden glow of the sun, about ripe berries and blossoming blossom. How on earth can you be a revolutionary and not like flowers, you wonder after a visit to Nest.

The Botanical Revolution: On the Necessity of Art and Gardening

Visual arts

★★★ ☆☆

9/9, Central Museum, Utrecht. Until 9/1/22

Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers?

Visual arts

★★★★★

8/9, Nest, The Hague. Until 19/12

Two exhibitions show that art and gardening go together very well★★★☆☆ and ★★★★★
Source link Two exhibitions show that art and gardening go together very well★★★☆☆ and ★★★★★

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