Were you exposed to art while growing up?
Yes, I grew up with it. Art was part of my parents' life, as was architecture and design. These subjects were separate from each other. My father was a paint wholesaler in Heerlen and later in other places in Limburg. The company buildings were spectacularly innovative for that time, also in terms of interior and art that could be seen there - whether or not integrated into the architecture. This innovation was strictly implemented in the graphic designs of Graatsma Slothouber's yearly calendars, and in designs by Baer Cornet. As a child, I was aware that something essential was going on in the arts.
How did you come into contact with the art world?
Once a year my father's company made an exhibition about a young contemporary artist, in collaboration with the gallery of Riekje Swart from Amsterdam. An opening was then held in the attic of the company, followed by a reception at our home. That was a revelation to me. All those people from the west of the country, all at the beginning of their passionate lives in art. There was something magical about it. My parents bought an art work from each exhibition and hung it in our home. Ad Dekkers, Peter Struycken, Bob Bonies. A close friendship developed with Dekkers and Struycken. When I took friends home, they occasionally asked why a few saw cuts in a white plank were art. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t see it was just stunning.
What was your first job at a gallery? Or did you immediately start a gallery yourself?
Right after I began studying art history, I started working at the gallery of Geert van Beijeren and Adriaan van Ravesteijn: Art & Project, in Amsterdam. Adriaan and Geert were incredibly inspiring people who showed the avant-garde in contemporary art. Artists such as Ger van Elk, Stanley Brouwn, Daan van Golden, Richard Long, David Tremlett, Tony Cragg and Lawrence Weiner. All very conceptual, but also people of flesh and blood. I thought it was great that I could experience these artists and the development of their work up close. I worked there for years and learned a lot.
It was not until 1989 that I started my own gallery with prints and editions, in collaboration with Marcel Kalksma, who had a studio behind the gallery with printing presses for lithography, etchings and woodcuts. There was a lot of experimentation, resulting in a special series of prints by Marlene Dumas, Erik Andriesse and Leo Vroegindeweij, to name just a few.
I also searched for editions around the world for the Expeditie gallery and made exhibitions with them. Those were the days when by buying just one print you still got the rest on consignment. In retrospect, I made very special exhibitions with, for example, Sol LeWitt, Tony Cragg and Barry Flanagan.
At the insistence of Ger van Elk and Fransje Killaars, I let go of the concept of graphics in the early nineties, and the gallery developed into a more regular function: that of representing a fixed group of mostly young artists. Those were dynamic years, with many international contacts resulting from participation in art fairs abroad. This period also involved lots of travel.
Six years ago I started a new gallery together with Paul Andriesse - andriesse ~ eyck - in which we have joined forces.
How would you describe your gallery’s profile?
That is a difficult question. The artists we work with are so different, but what they have in common is that each of them has developed a very specific visual language and is working on it day and night, so to speak. I think it is important that I sense the artist’s urge to make the work and its relevance to the time in which we live. The work must have something to tell, or surprise, and preferably also be well executed. Our programming now consists of nationally and internationally established and breakthrough mid-career artists, artists with whom we have worked from the beginning. For us it does not necessarily have to be young-younger-youngest. Of course, we always look for idiosyncratic types. It’s the variety that makes it interesting.
What part of being a gallery owner do you like most?
It is wonderful to be able to closely follow the developments of the artists we work with and to be able to provide a platform to get the work out into the world. In addition, as a gallery owner you are forced to look uninhibited, because art is always changing. That is a precondition to be able to see and experience something. The artists I work with open my eyes again and again and allow me to see the world from new angles. It makes me happy, if I manage to make this clear to visitors or customers. Of course you want to sell in the end, but getting there is already very satisfying.
Are there any galleries at home or abroad with which you feel an affinity?
We have many Amsterdam colleagues and I feel related to most of them. Internationally, we deal with different galleries of my own generation and we exchange projects. Over the past year, we have collaborated with Thomas Dane from London, Sperone Westwater from New York, Sabine Knust from Munich and Tomio Koyama from Tokyo.
In an ideal world, which artist would you most like to represent?
I am not going to reveal whom I’d love to work with, because I am still working on that. This year we had our first solo exhibition Michael Landy, an artist that I had wanted work with for a long time. When I see how a number of artists we work with are now breaking through internationally, my world could not be more ideal.
What has changed in the art world since you took your first steps?
The art world has grown enormously. The number of galleries, buyers and particularly fairs has increased significantly. Buying art has become a lucrative investment worldwide. That does not alter the fact that a lot of people today buy art because they find something beautiful or interesting. In the past you had to deal with a manageable number of large collectors, that number has grown considerably. There is also a large increase in buyers who do not primarily regard themselves as a collector, which is beautiful. The Netherlands is special in this regard.
With the advent of the internet, the provision of information and visibility have become important factors. Speed is a "must". I remember that in the eighties people still came to the gallery to do research and study the files that you had created about your artists. Now you should preferably immediately supply a perfect PDF with top high-res photos, focused on the questions of the person concerned. A lot of computer hours have been added, haha.
This brings me to the biggest difference today: the number of visitors to galleries has fallen sharply. In the 80s and 90s, people were massively making gallery tours in all the major cities of the world, and a "buzz" went through every city. These days people are more inclined to go to fairs where many different things can be seen. They meet and party there. All very nice, but somehow a shame.
Ultimately, you can only truly discover something in peace. Watch with your eyes and your heart instead of your ears.
What / who do you collect yourself?
I mainly buy work from artists that I have shown myself. Sometimes also from other artists to colleagues in the Netherlands or abroad. From the gallery always the last choice, because the customers come first, bearing in mind the wise lesson of my teachers at Art & Project: that the remaining works are usually the more complex and therefore the most interesting.
Has the pandemic influenced your thinking about the art world?
It confirmed my thinking: we started andriesse ∼ eyck because we wanted to work differently with more focus on and involvement with our customers and artists. We wanted less noise from imposed courses. Travelling the world all the time is out of date. There is more strength in the collaboration with exhibition spaces and galleries. It can and must be done differently. Not only because of the current pandemic, but also because of climate change.
View the artists represented by andriesse ∼ eyck