Hans den Hartog Jager

  • View of “Taocheng Wang,” 2015. From left: Vlieland—A Home Made Travel MV Series, 2015; Terschelling—A Home Made Travel MV Series, 2015; Ameland—A Home Made Travel MV Series, 2015.

    Taocheng Wang

    In Taocheng Wang’s exhibition “A Home Made Travel MV Series,” a display case held a drawing at least thirteen feet long. Five Weathers, 2015, depicts the Dutch islands in the Wadden Sea from an unmistakably Chinese perspective, and is somewhat reminiscent of a famous scroll painting in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. That work, by an anonymous nineteenth-century Asian artist, shows a group of Dutch and Chinese people on Dejima, an artificial island off the coast of Japan. For nearly two hundred years, Japan was closed to the outside world under its sakoku policy, and Dejima was

  • View of “Katja Mater,” 2013.

    Katja Mater

    From the very start of her career less than a decade ago, Katja Mater has ventured further and further into the borderlands of photography. For her latest show, “Interior A–J,” she constructed a wooden “room” inside the gallery that echoed the shape of its interior almost exactly. This seemingly redundant installation was necessary because Mater wanted to record as if looking through the walls from outside the goings-on inside the space—namely, the process of painting the gallery’s walls in four layers, starting with blue and ending up with silver, with the aid of ten cameras—and she

  • Frank Ammerlaan, untitled, 2012, various chemicals on canvas, 31 1/2 x 25 1/2".

    Frank Ammerlaan

    There’s something unsettling about the beauty of Frank Ammerlaan’s paintings. Their surfaces look almost like pools of oil suspended on water: Hallucinatory rainbow colors form voluptuous clouds that are delicate, all-encompassing, sublime. Yet their obvious dependence on chance raises the question of what their beauty means. To make the works in his recent untitled series (all 2012), for example, Ammerlaan, who graduated from London’s Royal College of Art last year, first blackens his canvases with acrylic paint, then deposits them in a bath of water with an undisclosed mixture of chemicals,

  • Robert Zandvliet, Red Studio, 2009, gesso and tempera on linen, 80 x 91".

    Robert Zandvliet

    Robert Zandvliet’s exhibition “I Owe You the Truth in Painting” posed an interesting question: Should a painter copy another’s work? While the history of painting is filled with celebrated reinterpretations—Van Gogh’s paintings after Millet’s The Sower or Picasso’s series based on Velázquez’s Las Meninas come to mind—a lingering suspicion seems to attach itself to copies today. Perhaps now that we have long since entered the age of mechanical reproduction, turning one painted world into another seems like too small a step, less significant and personal than transforming reality

  • View of “user,” 2012.
    picks July 11, 2012

    David Jablonowski

    The German sculptor David Jablonowski is fascinated with objects that carry meaning––in the literal sense of carry. His exhibition at Galerie Fons Welters, titled “user,” is laden with projectors, books, prints, television screens, offset plates, and pedestals. Their abundance here gives them a liminal quality. On the one hand, Jablonowski “uses” these objects to display films, texts, or images, but on the other, they are objects of reflection and contemplation in their own right. This indeterminate space of purpose seems to be precisely where Jablonowski’s interests lie—in the modernist tradition,

  • Steve McQueen, Blues Before Sunrise, 2012, 275 Lee #075 light filters. Installation view.

    Steve McQueen

    For his project Blues Before Sunrise, organized by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam this past March, British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen fitted all 275 lights in the Vondelpark with blue filters (Lee #075, Evening Blue). Suddenly Amsterdam’s equivalent of Central Park was bathed in intense midnight blue each evening and night. Dog owners lost track of their four-footed companions, evening joggers faded to dim phantoms, and the cyclists who, in a proud Amsterdam tradition, refuse to use lights of their own whooshed past each other in the azure glow like birds over a darkened sea. Many

  • Meiro Koizumi, Defect in Vision, 2011, still from a two-channel video installation, 12 minutes 9 seconds.
    picks April 23, 2012

    Meiro Koizumi

    The people of Japan very rarely saw their emperor—that is, until the country lost the Second World War and the Americans thrust Hirohito and his family into the public eye. The earliest result of this policy was a photo series in Life magazine, “Sunday at Hirohito’s: Emperor poses for first informal pictures.” Suddenly the world was confronted with an emperor who visited “ordinary” Japanese people and went for walks in the garden with his wife. The island nation’s god had become a man.

    But did that matter? The main question posed by Meiro Koizumi’s exhibition “Defect in Vision” is how much

  • Rebecca Digne, Mains, 2010, still from a color film in 16 mm, 1 minute 15 seconds.
    picks April 05, 2012

    Rebecca Digne

    Rebecca Digne’s exhibition “Mains” demonstrates her subtle mastery of detail. Four small-scale works, three short films, and a slide show all feature ultrabrief moments that lodge inescapably in your mind. Take Matelas, 2008, a black-and-white video that runs just over a minute and features an overturned mattress rolling around the screen. For just a moment, an arm emerges from it, creating a gripping image that forces one to piece together a narrative and thus delve deeper into the work. What otherwise might be banal aspects of the film become of interest: the corridor in the background, for

  • Rob Birza, Shifting Systems III, 2011, egg tempera on canvas, 70 7/8 x 78 3/4".

    Rob Birza

    It might have taken a moment to realize what Rob Birza’s exhibition “Shifting Systems” reminded you of: Tintin’s Inca adventure in the Temple of the Sun. You went through a door and suddenly you were surrounded by paintings and objects that seemed to come from another culture, almost another universe, bristling with signs and symbols—maps, diagrams, mandalas?—that invited you to puzzle out their meaning, to discover an underlying system. But no matter how hard you tried, you hit a wall. It was hopeless. You were left with ambivalence; the pleasures of form and color ought to have been

  • Willem de Rooij, Vertigo’s Doll, 2010, unbleached cotton canvas, metal threads, 4 x 14’.
    picks March 17, 2012

    Willem de Rooij

    It may seem strange at first, but Willem de Rooij’s current exhibition “Untilted” irresistibly recalls the paradoxes of motion devised by Zeno of Elea. This Greek philosopher’s “arrow paradox” argues that at any instant in time, an arrow in flight occupies a fixed position and does not essentially change, and therefore that motion is impossible. De Rooij’s new works appear motivated by a variation on this paradox. For years, the Dutch artist has been fascinated with referentiality, with the dilemma of a contemporary art world awash in associations, ideas, and contexts from which no artist can

  • View of “Vincent Vulsma,” 2011.

    Vincent Vulsma

    Vincent Vulsma’s exhibition “A Sign of Autumn” looked like a design shop gone native. The walls of the bare, austere space were hung with tapestries in black-and-white patterns of unmistakably African origin. There were also four plain wooden sculptures (all about two feet in height), making the works Socles a c b and Socle d, both 2011. Each part is composed of pairs of stools, one inverted atop the other: a classic walnut stool designed by Ray Eames for the Time & Life Building in Manhattan and an early-twentieth-century stool from what was then the Belgian Congo. The showpiece of the exhibition,

  • View of  “Apperception,” 2012. Center: Buddha, 1971–73.
    picks February 22, 2012

    Daan van Golden

    It is hardly surprising that “Apperception,” Daan van Golden’s retrospective, begins with a painting of a golden Buddha’s head who greets visitors with a friendly smile. Not only is the work a play on van Golden’s name, which could be roughly translated to “of gold,” but the Buddha also perfectly reflects the painter’s temperament: perpetually serene, detached, and untouched by passing fads. His major breakthrough, in this respect, came in the 1960s. Before then, van Golden had painted large, abstract compositions, in the spirit of Franz Kline. While living in Japan for a few years, however, he