Art Professionals and their Key Pieces

Walter van Teeffelen on the solo exhibition Easy to love at Twelve Twelve Gallery, The Hague, January 18, 2019

In Chelva and next to it | series of 4 drawings | poetry in Dutch

Last year the exhibition ‘Easy to love’ by Karin van Pinxteren was to be seen at the Twelve Twelve Gallery in the Prinsestraat, The Hague. Various elliptical shapes with protrusions with words that together formed a sentence. A roulette table and two rosettes, also with texts. Four poems hanging on red wires. It did have a certain elegance, everything together. Rank and slim, with a deeper content. An ellipse, an oval shape, you often see back in faces (not always). How did she come to this form? I spoke to Karin van Pinxteren in the gallery in the presence of gallery owner Silvia Bakker.

A Pyrenees book
She made a first sketch with ellipse forms in 2003, she says. It was a kind of carousel with an oval opening that ran around, a kind of theater. The year before, in 2002, had been a holiday in the Pyrenees. In a second-hand bookshop at the Hinthamereinde in Den Bosch, she noticed a book about the Pyrenees, ‘A Pyrenees Book’, a book by the German Writer Kurt Tucholsky from 1927, translated by Ernst van Altena. When she read it she found it fascinating. “It was an essayistic travel story. The book was not about the landscape, but about people. I found it fascinating. Tucholsky saw Nazism grow and fled to Sweden. He already foresaw what was going to happen. “

Pine tree
The book originally appeared under Tucholsky’s pseudonym, Peter Panter. She found it in 2005 through the internet at an antiquarian shop in Tel Aviv and ordered it. When the book arrived by mail and she opened it she saw that the book was illustrated with photographs, including a picture that came very close to the work she was working on at the time. In the picture of a number of trees with the subtitle ‘Gewinnung von Harz in der Gegend von Bordeaux’, pine trees were peeled at the bottom of their bark in the form of ellipses to extract resin. And with that form she was at that moment working at a guest studio of ZIN in Vught, a space of the Brothers of Tilburg on the Boxtelseweg.

“I got a shiver. That was very strong. But I believe in coincidence”, says Karin. Based on the above-mentioned sketch Karin intuitively made the installation Kurt’s Zimmer, the room of Kurt (Tucholsky), a kind of viewing box in the form of a carousel with a rhythmic pattern of carved ellipses.

Kurt's Zimmer - Karin van Pinxteren
Kurt’s Zimmer | installation | mixed media | 380 x 380 x 296 cm | Kurt’s Zimmer Walz by Maarten van der Vleuten | 2006 (photo Peter Cox)

Camp Vught
The project got an extra load because the studio was located in the vicinity of Camp Vught, the former Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch, one of the three German concentration camps during the Second World War in the Netherlands. Right next door is the extra secure penitentiary for heavy cases, both with the same parking lot.
“My subconscious bubbled up”, she says. Kurt Tucholsky succumbed to evil, he killed himself in 1935. Something like that can never happen again. During that time, ‘Big Brother’ also appeared. I made a special floor that was for everyone and nobody. That space had to remain empty, act as a thinking space. In the middle a lamp turned like in a lighthouse. Maarten van Vleuten composed a special waltz that played every 7.5 minutes.

Kurt's Zimmer | Karin van Pinxteren | photo by Peter Cox Eindhoven
Kurt’s Zimmer | Karin van Pinxteren | photo by Peter Cox Eindhoven

From the outside you can look inside and from the inside out. “If you did the latter you saw the other person framed, as it were, in an oval, you saw a unique person. Several people have written about the installation. Theo Ploeg, journalist and sociologist, wrote about it a few years later with the idea that it was about power relations. I did not realize that then. I do not like power. I like equality. “

Gravity plays a big role for Karin van Pinxteren. “Gravity ensures that people are bound to the earth. They want to own space, if you consider the available space and the number of people, then there is little space available for each person. All emotions are up to two meters high. With my art, I want to do something against that gravity, to transcend gravity. Three works in the exhibition ar called ‘Unknown Atmospheric Effect #1-#3’. They are not detected on the radar. It is about human insights, about what makes man unique: his thinking, his reflection.”

Karin van Pinxteren | OAE #3 | 2018 | photo Peter Cox
Unknown Atmospheric Effect #3 | 2018 | photo Peter Cox

The process of the making goes very slowly. “My subjects are growing as it were. A lot falls off, every now and then something remains. One such subject was the concept of ‘trust’. Much has come out of it, the entire Kurt’s Zimmer installation.” She does not really have a key work in the sense of a tilting work, but there is a work that does come close to it. That is ‘Paper is as Cosmic as the Universe # 4’, two rosettes. You can pin a rosette on your jacket. This happens in some sports if you have won a prize. In this case there is a text from Tucholsky. We walk towards it. I read on the left rosette “Ich kann genau das Auge sehen”. And on the stalk “Het is de oogopslag (It’s the glance)”. And on the right “Das Auge versteht nicht” and below “Who makes the animal human”. A dialogue with Tucholsky.

Papier is even kosmisch als het heelal #2 | Karin van Pinxteren | photo by Peter Cox Eindhoven
Paper is as Cosmic as the Universe | 2013| photo Peter Cox

That is what it is all about: humanity. But people always remain separate beings, nobody is the same. It turns out to be one of her themes: the inability to coincide with the other. The problem increases if it is already difficult for some people to coincide with themselves.
Karin is from Den Bosch, the city of Jeroen Bosch (El Bosco). She feels inspired by him. “He deals with the good and evil of life. He does this in a fascinating way. It is as if he discovers the absurdity of life. You see how he gets the finger behind it and it’s still the same. “

A slight quip
Finally: where does it go to with her art? “Much of my art is very serious. Lately I have the tendency to allow something frivolous. There is more play and humor. That motivates. Instead of seriousness, a slight quip. “

Gedicht in casino #1 / Poem in Casino #1 | 2017 – 2018 | photo Peter Cox