Artkitchen Gallery stops after 30 years: “Art is too rocket, nothing is possible anymore”

From Provo to Fluxus and from street art to sex, it all happened in Jeannette Dekeukeleire’s gallery. She is retiring after thirty years. Red? The art sector has become too rocket and nice.

Jeannette enters the gallery with a supermarket trolley full of wine and tangerines. The last week of her Artkitchen Gallery must of course be properly celebrated (“Look at all the bottles going through it!”), although she also wants to avoid her place on the Hemonystraat with a big bow in the coming months: “Saturday is the last day . After thirty years, I don’t think I realize the emptiness I’m going to have, it feels a little strange.”

Although Dekeukelaire quits of her own accord, and she especially doesn’t want to make a sad mess out of it, the reason is less hopeful: “I was always at the forefront of my gallery, but now I get so many comments on the art that I don’t want to anymore ..Nowadays you have to explain everything that was done in the past with the eyes of today. Then you defend yourself all the time and that’s not what art is about. It made me much more careful. and I want to not anymore.”

Threats

For decades, ArtKitchen has been a space for unconventional and provocative art. After a location on Herengracht and on Haarlemmerweg, Dekeukelaire finally ended up in De Pijp. The first 20 years passed without problems, but in the last 10 years she has seen the public’s reactions change: “People are much more worked up. We live in a time where we have to constantly say sorry, while art is not. about that.”

A drawing by Peter Pontiac of a sexy lady with a syringe and below it an image of a mosque, Dekeukeleire had to remove from his facade: “It was there for six years, but suddenly a video of it appeared on TikTok. Then I received so many threats that I would be against Islam that I immediately had the wall painted over.” A picture of a Japanese girl with almond-shaped eyes also had to clear the field after her complaints about racism.

Dekeukeleire: “An artwork with Ali B and Putin on the facade should be possible, it would be fun for an artist, but we’re not doing that right now.”

“It wasn’t meant to be at all, not at all, but it happens. It’s a shame, I think.”

Artist Maarten Mater about one of his works

The latter exhibition shows works by the artists Milo and Maarten Mater. Milo: “Nowadays it’s harder to push the boundaries while it’s so important to. Before you know it, the videos and complaints pour in via TikTok and Twitter, it’s so intense and scary. I once drew an Asian person with worn eyes I knew.”

Mater shows a small statue of a white Piet with the middle finger up: “Look, this Piet was originally black. Then my son came to me and said: You just can’t do that, you’re insulting people with that.” It wasn’t meant to be at all, not at all, but it happens. It’s a shame, I think.”

Rocket trading

As a result of this culture of calculation, according to Dekeukeleire, the artists have also become cautious and commercial, she says, standing next to a sculpture by Aatje Veldhoen; a stiff penis from his pants. “They do what the public asks for more often and resist less. The art world has become so rackety and nice as a result. I feel like I’m in a prison where I can’t do much more. If I want to depict this time properly, I shouldn’t have a gallery anymore.”

And what does the future bring? “I’ve been doing this for so long, I can’t just stop. My idea is to focus more on other disciplines, such as natural sciences, and connect them with art. And I really want to get involved with young artists. content.”

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