In the section 'The gallery of' we talk to a selection of gallerists from the Netherlands and Belgium speak: when and how did they start their gallery, what has changed in the art world since, what is their profile, what do they collect themselves, and how has the pandemic impacted on their gallery? In this part Ruben Bunder en Meier Boersma
(Vriend van Bavink Gallery)
We’re you exposed to art while growing up?
MB: Ruben and I both grew up in families that were culturally oriented. With artists such as Pieter Boersma, Brordus Bunder, Brecht Swaanswijk and Lucebert. At home there was a lot of art on the walls, and theatre, music, design and politics were topics of conversation.
How did you come into contact with the art world?
MB: I have always been interested in art and during my studies I knew that I wanted to work in the art world, and also took courses in that direction. After my studies I worked for a while as a consultant for institutes and artists, and I advised on entrepreneurship, but I also wanted to be in business myself. When I ran into Ruben again after a long time, in the literary café De Engelbewaarder in Amsterdam, he was about to start a gallery and was building a sugar floor there.
RB: Without success, but worth giving it another chance. I had problems with ants for years.
Exhibition Aukje Dekker, 2013.
What was your first job in a gallery? Or did you immediately start a gallery yourself?
RB: I immediately started my own business and it took me a few years to figure out what 'being a gallerist' exactly meant. I knew Meier from secondary school and university, where we were both studied sociology. When I was working on the gallery for a few years, I asked him to organize an exhibition in the gallery with his photo collective Jehoofdlooptom. After this exhibition I asked him if he wanted to expand the gallery with me. He had to think about it for a while, but that's what we did.
Warme winkel EXoot at the Pacific Place.
How would you describe your gallery’s profile?
MB: For years we were an artist’s gallery operating a bit off the beaten track. When a Chinese shoppingcentre – Pacific Place on Geldersekade – became vacant, we convinced owner Kin Ping Dun to turn it into a breeding ground for artists. For about four years we offered studio space there, we had several exhibition spaces, and there was also room for theatre, performance, music, and the occasional party. After a renovation, we are now back in the same place, where the Mai Hotel of Vondel Hotels is now located.
Our programme pays a lot of attention to conceptual exhibitions, such as with Marc Oosting and Boris Tellegen. We are more into figurative than abstract painting, we like photography and spatial work. Art that warms us, without limiting ourselves within a genre or medium. We like a certain kind of dedication and conviction in artists, and love to show engaged art that can start a conversation, but it doesn't have to be. At Art Rotterdam 2022, for example, we will be showing a sculpture by Esther Kokmeijer. The Dutch constitution executed in extremely fragile thin porcelain. In January there is a solo by Aldo van den Broek, who tells more personal autobiographical stories through his paintings and sculptures.
The team, Ruben Bunder, Meier Boersma, Justin ten Haaf, Oeke Witteveen and Emily Koster at the Pacific Place, 2017.
What do you think is the best part of being a gallerist?
RB: Since we started out during the 2008 banking crisis, we've been dealing with a generation that has been hopping from crisis to identity crisis to climate crisis to pandemic, in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Hopefully, our programme and our artists will eventually turn out present to beautiful chronicle of our time. This does not necessarily have to be socially committed art. Art can also be a form of escapism, or hedonism, it can put things into perspective or raise other questions. Making exhibitions about this and bringing people together is the most beautiful aspect. Besides, we also like selling art.
Which national / international galleries do you feel an affinity with?
MB: I don’t know about related, but we get along with a lot of gallery owners. Oeke Witteveen was with us in the Pacific Place. A special woman, who sadly passed away last year.
RB: And a shout out to Gerhard Hofland. And to No Man's Art Gallery. And Justin ten Haaf. And grandpa Mo from Torch.
Fraser Stewart - INFUSION in de Pacific Place.
In an ideal world, which artist would you most like to represent?
MB: There are quite a few: Superflex, Sam Andrea, Maurizio Cattelan, Aldo van den Broek, Louise Bonnet, Jan Hoek, Grayson Perry, Esther Kokmeijer, Elmgreen & Dragset, Victor Sonna, Guan Xiao, Stijn Elshuis, Sam Dillemans, Kadir van Lohuizen, Thierry Decordier, Natascha Libbert, Dan Colen, Tja ling, Cindy Sherman, Maurice van Tellingen, Wim T. Schippers, Piet Parra, Aldert Mantje, Richard Jackson and a few more.
What has changed in the art world since you took your first steps?
RB: No idea. For us and our own development there has always been an upward trend. I can't speak for the rest of the world.
Jan Brokhof at the Pacific Place.
What / whose work do you collect yourself?
MB: Many of our own artists and mostly young artists who cross our path. Last purchase were a number of original drawings by Lucky Versloot about Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. We bought it at Cristel Ballroom Gallery, a new gallery that has moved into our old space on Geldersekade.
Has the pandemic changed the way you see the artworld?
RB: No, due to the pandemic the world has become a bit smaller again. People may start to appreciate their immediate environment a bit more, instead of looking for happiness and beauty on the other side of the planet.
Boris Tellegen & Marc Oosting COPY at Vriend van Bavink, 2021.