Roeland Merks (left) and Bart Dirks in front of a work by Jonathan Marshall.
In this section we let a selection of art lovers – from occasional buyers to art professionals – talk about their perception of art and preferences: where do they want to see art? Where do they purchase art, and above all: from which artists do they buy? Below, an interview with Roeland Merks (professor in mathematical biology, age 47) and Bart Dirks (journalist for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant, age 47)
What does art mean to you?
Roeland: “Art is our passion or our addiction. Which of the two, I don't know. Probably both.”
Bart: “I think you should always be able to see what it represents.”
Roeland: “That first statement, from the American collector Eli Broad, is on our notice board.”
Bart: “The second comes from a postcard next to it, for perspective.”
Did you get an appreciation of art from your parents or did you have to find your own way?
Roeland: “From the age of 12 I had a public transport pass and a museum pass. I wanted to visit all 660 addresses in the Groot Museumboek (The Great Book of Musuems). As proof I asked the porters for a signature. I have not gotten far, but I have seen many beautiful things.”
Bram Braam, A finite slice of infinite space #17, 2018, Frank Taal Galerie.
Where do you get your information about the ups and downs in the art world: newspaper, trade magazines, television, online?
Bart: “From newspapers, and websites such as Artsy, Trendbeheer and Lost Painters. Galleries won’t stop emailing you. We also exchange tips with friends.”
Where do you prefer to look at art? In a gallery, museum, exhibition or online?
Roeland: "Visiting the artist’s studio! You won't get any closer to the makers. Of course, in museums as well, although it is a shame that they dare not show many young artists."
How many times a year do you buy art? Do you buy editioned work or do you prefer unique pieces?
Bart: "A few times a year. It depends on how expensive we make it. Always unique work, except for a multiple by Matthew Day Jackson. He is one of our priceless heroes.''
Pim Palsgraaf, Hyfen 01, 2019, NL=US Art.
And where do you buy: in the gallery, at an art fair, at an auction or online?
Roeland: “Almost always through galleries, but we've also given assignments ourselves. Pim Palsgraaf built a seven-meter high installation in our triangular light tube. You can see it on two floors and by sticking your head through the sliding windows.”
Bart: “In our stairwell Lizan Freijsen made a leakage to order, inspired by fungi and lichen. Such a project really gives a kick.”
Is it important that you and your partner always agree on a purchase?
Bart: "Coincidentally, we tend to like the same work."
Roeland: "You had to convince me of the collages that Bram Braam makes of Berlin's demolition waste. I now rank his works among our top pieces. "
Is there a gallery with which you have a special relationship?
Roeland: "Frank Taal, Zerp and Cinnnamon in Rotterdam. At Livingstone in The Hague we bought work by Hugo Tieleman and Raquel Maulwurf. In Amsterdam we like to go to Grimm."
Peter Struycken, POS18L 22DEC85, 1985, andriesse eyck galerie.
If you had an unlimited budget, from whom would you purchase a work?
Bart: “We’ve already mentioned Matthew Day Jackson... Jonathan Marshall, of whom we own two works, used to be his assistant."
Roeland: “I find Berlinde De Bruyckere impressive. Anselm Kiefer. Peter Struycken.”
Bart: “A wall-filling drawing by Charles Avery.”
Roeland: “Yes, with one of these fractal lampposts and we might as well have a Penrose floor installed while we’re at it.”
Who are your favourite artists?
Bart: “Esther Tielemans, Pim Palsgraaf, Bram Braam and Rabi Koria.”
Roeland: “Willem Besselink. Fascinating how he translates data into paintings, objects and gigantic installations.”
Bart: “I have a soft spot for Niek Hendrix. Above our couch is a cabinet with nine painted panels.”
Willem Besselink, Romankleuren - Het pad van de gele slippers - Kade, 2019, NL=US Art.