This article was published in the online art magazine: 
Brabant Cultureel, 28-01-2022.
This is the English translation of the complete text from the original Dutch text by 
Irma van Bommel.

Slow Photography,
Vincent van GoghHuis Zundert celebrates ten years of their guest studio with an overview exhibition and book

The Artist-in-Residence program of the Van GoghHuis in Zundert celebrates its tenth anniversary. Reason enough for a retrospective exhibition in Stedelijk Museum Breda. This retrospective also provides a look back at the many activities which the Van GoghHuis has organized with contemporary artists since its inception in 2008 and under the inspiring leadership of director-curator Ron Dirven. All of them 'Because of Vincent'.

by Irma van Bommel

The purpose of an Artist-in-Residence is to focus on your work, experiment, research and perhaps take a new direction, away from your daily environment and away from your daily activities. Around the corner from the Van GoghHuis in Zundert is the guest studio where artists can work for a month. The adjoining Sexton's house serves as their residence.


In ten years time almost one hundred and fifty artists have worked on the Artist-in-Residence program in Zundert. An impressive number. A selection was made for the exhibition, Because of Vincent. Van Gogh's native region as inspiration in Stedelijk Museum Breda. This exhibition also includes work by artists who exhibited in the Van GoghHuis independently of the guest studio, such as Arnulf Rainer and Rainer Fetting. Rainer Fetting's solo exhibition is currently on display at the Vincent van GoghHuis in Zundert.

The artists were inspired by the life and work of Vincent van Gogh and studied the person, the surroundings of Zundert, his paintings, drawings and letters. This not only resulted in a variety of approaches, but also in a wide range of interpretations and styles. And that says a lot about the creativity and originality of the makers, in short, the individuality of the artists. Painting forms the main part of the exhibition, but there is also photography, video, installation and sculpture. The (video) films are shown in the museum's auditorium on fixed days. In total the work of some seventy artists will be shown.

Pinhole photography

The combination on one wall of charcoal drawings by Carlijn Mens, made with almost photographic precision and displayed amidst pinhole photography by Betsy Green and a video work by Noortje Haegens, is beautiful. The three artists chose nature, in this case trees, as their subject and each worked with them in their own way. This wall in monochromatic tones forms a contrast with the other, very colorful walls.

One or two works by each artist will be shown. They are mostly artists from Brabant, including Stijn Peeters, Wiesje Peels, Reinoud van Vught, Ruud van Empel, Han Klinkhamer, Tessa Chaplin, Tahné Kleijn and the aforementioned Noortje Haegens, but they also come from the rest of the Netherlands, such as Carlijn Mens, Betsy Green and Philip Akkerman. The versatility is impressive. But this versatility also creates unease and ensures that as a visitor you would like to see more, one wall of each artist, to get a better idea of the series that was created during a work period. Many artists have published a book at the end of a working period in the guest studio. Those books would have deserved a place in the exhibition to give the visitor insight into the process.

Some artists stayed close to what they made before, while others were tempted to break new ground. In the exhibition there is a small photograph with a representation of shoes, known from a painting by Van Gogh. It looks like a photo of a carpet, but after reading the text it turns out to be a photo of a flower tableau of no less than one hundred and twenty square meters, taken from above. Artist Vik Muniz created this work together with corso builders and during the 2018 Zundert corso the tableau could be seen from a high tower. Vik Muniz is a Brazilian artist who replicates well-known works of art with paper scraps, trash or plants. But collaborating with a group of flower pickers on a large format artwork must have been a unique experience. In addition to guest studios and exhibitions, the Van GoghHuis regularly invites artists to work on a project. The work by Vik Muniz is the result of one such project.


Another fascinating project is the night walk that a group of artists made in 2014, following Van Gogh's night walk from Oudenbosch to Zundert in April 1877. Since then, that walk has been repeated several times, but that first one was the most fascinating, because works of art emerged from it. And a book was made about that as well. Anne Geene's 'herbarium' is on display at the exhibition, provided with thoughts that occurred to her that night.

Informative texts are a welcome addition to the works of art. In addition, fragments from Van Gogh's letters have been added to the exhibition. Fragments that provide insight into what occupied Van Gogh and what artists have drawn from. Many works come from the collection of the Vincent van GoghHuis Art Foundation and are donations from artists who have participated in the Artist-in-Residence program or one of the projects.


The driving force behind the Artist-in-Residence programme and all the activities of the Van GoghHuis is director-curator Ron Dirven. He talks about the selection of artists for the guest studio: "We work with a jury that makes the selection in response to an Open Call. In addition, we have special collaborative projects with Corso Zundert, Stedelijk Museum Breda, St. Joost et cetera. We invite artists specifically for this."

Are there any requirements for participation? "The condition, besides quality, is that the artist responds to the 'spirit of the place', i.e. Van Gogh and Zundert. Of course we assume that this will lead to a result, but we make no binding agreements about this beforehand. After all, it is a work period in which the artist must be free to experiment. The results are not fixed beforehand. Fortunately, something special almost always comes out of it. A residency in the verger's house is always concluded with a presentation in the Van Gogh Gallery. In Atelier De Moeren with an Open Studio weekend."

When an artist works in the guest studio, Dirven visits regularly to discuss progress. "The artists are guided by me and colleague Eva Geene. We also have volunteers who guide and support in many other ways. In our talent program, we sometimes invite mentors to guide the artists.
We always think along when the artists have needs, either for material or for contacts. The contacts are informal. In a friendly way. We also maintain the connection afterwards. There may be subsequent publications, exhibitions and the like."

Art Fund

Many of the works now on display in the Breda exhibition come from the Vincent van GoghHuis Art Fund. "The donation is on a voluntary basis. The artist, in consultation with the curator, ultimately makes the choice."

A book has been published to accompany the exhibition, with the same title as the exhibition. An impressive list of participants in the Artist-in-Residence program is included in the back. Attention is also paid to the other guest studios at Buisse Heide and De Moeren, where writers and curators are also welcome. It is nice that some literary texts are also included in the book. The interview of Esther van Rosmalen with Dorien de Wit can also be counted among these. It is one of the conversations Van Rosmalen has had with artists in the guest studio since 2017 and which appear as a blog on the website of Witte Rook, platform for visual arts and education in Breda.

Also, with informal photographs, the book gives an idea of the many interesting activities that the Vincent Van GoghHuis has developed in collaboration with others since it opened in 2008, such as the aforementioned night walk and the collaboration with corso builders. But also, for example, Land Art on the Buisse Heide, Marc Mulders' mentor project and the St. Joost | Van Gogh AiR Prize for young talent. The book also provides information about Van Gogh himself, the Protestant environment in which he grew up, followed by a brief sketch of his life. With him, after all, everything began.

'Because of Vincent. The native region of Van Gogh as inspiration' is on exhibition until 3 July 2022 in Stedelijk Museum Breda.

Ron Dirven, Dingeman Kuilman, Esther van Rosmalen a.o., Because of Vincent. The native region of Van Gogh as inspiration. Zwolle: WBOOKS / Zundert: Vincent van GoghHuis, Breda: Stedelijk Museum, 2021, 224 pp., ISBN 978 94 625 84761, hb., € 29,95.

Copyright Betsy Green 2022

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