Olphaert den Otter – Reality Check

[email protected] presents Reality Check, a solo exhibition by visual artist Olphaert den Otter (Poortugaal, 1955). The exhibition features 28 paintings in egg tempera on paper and canvas/panel, from the series World Stress PaintingHome Made, and Postcode. Most of these have never been shown before. They form a bridge between classical landscape painting and contemporary subject matter. This exhibition shows how beauty and engagement can reinforce each other.

download here the text of the exhibition – in Dutch

Olphaert den Otter’s paintings are based on reality: a report or a photo in the newspaper, a spot in the woods, the meagre possessions of an unhoused person. Yet the works are not realistic. At will, Den Otter omits or adds details from the image. For instance, he consistently leaves out all the people: “There is no story. There is image.”

Den Otter paints landscapes, in which people left their traces, in which disastrous events took place, in which the natural environment underwent changes through the ages. His work expresses a deep commitment to the earth and the world. Since 2009, he has been making World Stress Paintings, an infinite series of works in which he visualises places that have turned into catastrophes due to human intervention. His Postcode series captures how homeless people make shelter through creative use of waste.

‘The earth’ is our planet, ‘the world’ is what it became because of what we made of it. There is a tension between earth and world, between humans and their environment. I see that tension and base my work on it.

Olphaert den Otter

Through his sense of composition, colour, and staging, he gives a soul to a newspaper photo or a seemingly insignificant place. Den Otter paints beauty, but it is a beauty without wellbeing. Because of their emphatic aesthetics, the paintings seem one-dimensional at first glance, but on closer inspection they prove to be very layered. It is precisely this aesthetic that heightens our perception. A wry beauty manifests itself in his work, which does not smooth away life but exposes it in all its painfulness.

Every Thursday, Den Otter posts an image of one of his paintings on Facebook with an accompanying text. These texts form an integral part of the exhibition. They are almost always written in retrospect, sometimes years after a painting has been completed. Text and image are both snapshots, from parallel worlds intersecting along the paths of Den Otter’s lasting preoccupations throughout the years. This makes them time and place specific as well as universal.

A special publication written by art critic Anna Tilroe will accompany Reality Check. She will also open the exhibition in the presence of the artist on Wednesday 9 November. The Reality Check exhibition is curated by Renny Ramakers.

 About the artist

Olphaert den Otter (born 1955, Poortugaal) studied at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Den Otter’s career spans over 40 years as a visual artist, a painter, animator, and, in the past, teacher at various academies. His work is included in various museum collections including the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Centraal Museum Utrecht, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Museum Belvédère Heerenveen. Den Otter participated in group exhibitions in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Belgium, and Australia. Besides his practice as a visual artist, he is a countertenor in the Rhetorical Quartet and lectures on cultural-philosophical themes. Olphaert den Otter lives and works in Rotterdam.

The exhibition Olphaert den Otter ­– Reality Check is on view from 10 November 2022 to 9 January 2023. 

Read here the review of Het Parool – in Dutch

photo’s by Thijs Wolzak

Laying the Groundwork for the Start-up Accelerator by and for Young Dapperbuurt Entrepreneurs

 

On the January 23rd Design+Desires organized the ‘Dappere Ondernemers’ (brave entrepreneurs) public meeting in Amsterdam. Young entrepreneurs, residents, and business people from in- and outside the Dapperbuurt neighborhood in Amsterdam came together to pulse interest and discuss developing a neighborhood entrepreneurial hub, run by and for youngsters.

The meeting was a continuation of our research-and-do project ‘Me, Myself & My Job’ (2016) conducted in the Dapperbuurt neighborhood of Amsterdam. This research centers on youngsters and their dreams in relation to work and free time. Our findings show that majority of young people surveyed would rather be self-employed than work for a boss under fixed employment. However, the majority also expressed they often lack the necessary tools and feel insecure when it comes to setting things into motion. Our proposal was to create a ‘Hub’ as a launch platform, a space where personal growth, work ambitions and leisure time could intertwine. This hub could be modeled like the high-tech start-up accelerators – such as RockStart and Startupbootcamp- and run by youngsters who would like to start or already run their own business.

Various entrepreneurs and locals attended the meeting held in The Jungle Amsterdam, in the heart of the Dapperbuurt. After her presentation, Renny Ramakers asked the audience for feedback on the framework ideas she has for such a Hub. During the open mic, several youngsters and neighbors expressed their willingness to participate. The evening connected many people in the neighborhood who may have otherwise not known one another. A resident from the Dapperbuurt expressed his joy and noted if he had not come across our Facebook promotion, he would not have known all the young entrepreneurs in his neighborhood. He works as a coach in daily life and said he would be delighted to contribute to the Hub. Another entrepreneur, a lawyer shared his thoughts and offered his support in way of advice to youngsters in their initiatives for the Hub. Several civil servants of the Dapperbuurt were also in attendance. One of them told the youngsters that the City of Amsterdam might explore the possibilities to facilitate such a Hub.

Renny Ramakers emphasized that key to getting the Hub off the ground is that the youngsters themselves initiate its’ creation with plans and needs. Therefore Droog will offer practical support by means of creating a Supervisory Board with seasoned and well-experienced entrepreneurs who will coach the Hub-organizers.

One young entrepreneur, Irene Drexhage was inspired to take the lead. She is now the chairman of a group of 18 youngsters that expressed interest in setting up a hub. The day after the event, Renny Ramakers and Irene Drexhage were interviewed by business radio BNR Zakendoen to talk about the project.

The next step will be a follow-up meeting between the Supervisory Board and the group of youngsters who want to run the Hub. This is just a start. We think the Hub concept could be carried throughout the Netherlands.

The public meeting was organized via a poster campaign of the same name shown the weeks prior in 40 bus stops throughout Amsterdam East. Via a Facebook promotion, Droog interviewed and hand-selected 17 young, proud and successful entrepreneurs to showcase on the posters.

Stay tuned to the Design+Desires program for updates.

The wonder of weaving…Cacau

Photography by Dario Pequeno Paraiso

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The wonder of weaving. Separating white and blue threads is tedious work but makes it possible for the weavers of Cacau to develop the detailed patterns into a cohesive design. Droog designer Nikkie Wester is dedicated to helping the weavers work wonders.

Continuing with Cacau…

Photography by Dario Pequeno Paraiso

After Droog’s weaving workshop in July in Sao Tome, a group of passionate locals continue to use their newly acquired skills to weave a 90m long curtain. The curtain will offer their local cultural center, Cacau the possibility to divide and open the space according to their needs.
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For the Cacau project textile designer Nikkie Wester translated the traditional Gobrlin technique into a contemporary weaving method. Only weaving the outlines of the pattern.


Meet the weavers of Cacau.
From left to right: Engrácia Isabel, Gualter Martinho Henrique, Alzira Medeiros, Sonia Mendes, Luisa Monteiro, Guimarley Oliveira, Angelina Cabral Cuba, Silania Pascoal Domingas, Etelvina Monteiro, Fernanda Mendes Vaz da Silva, Nilza Piedade, Eusébio Dias Fernandes, Alaize Martins Vincente, Seli Soares Martins, Nilsa Elvira, Eula Fonseco Sousa Pontes, Irodina Almeida, Marlene Soares, Cremilda Vaz da Conceição Santana, Manuel do Espírito Santo Santana

 

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This magical botanical garden belongs to São Tomé local, Olivia. Weavers of the 90m long curtain designed by Droog have been utilizing Olivia’s plants as natural dyes for the curtain’s fibers. We can’t wait to see the results!

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The indigo plant is native to São Tomé however there were no current applications of indigo use as dying material on the island. The curtain will be made from local non-toxic dyes and materials found on the island of São Tomé such as banana fiber and pigments from plants and minerals.<Br><br>
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The weavers brought their first visit to the cultural center, where eventually the curtain will hang and construction on the building’s interior will begin this winter.