About PAN Amsterdam
Once a year, the Dutch capital's creative zenith peaks with PAN Amsterdam, the country's most modern art and antiques fair. Usually held in early December right before the Miami Arts Fair, up to 50,000 aficionados come every year to see paintings, sculptures, contemporary designs, antiques and photographs from both up and coming artists as well as established names. In that abundance and diversity lays much of the fair's appeal.
Mark Grol, the new managing director of PAN Amsterdam, has taken great pains in the Dutch press to stress that the fair should not be misconstrued as an ivory tower for highbrow connoisseurs. "It's not elitist. Anyone can buy a ticket and go, and the art is affordable for everyone. But the art dealers that are exhibiting do want to be surrounded by other quality art dealers."
Now that we've set the stage, if not the scene, let's look at a cross-section of artists and galleries from the 2019 fair.
One of those quality dealers that the managing director spoke of is Jaski Gallery. Headed up by Willy and Robbert van Ham, a mother and son, the gallery is located in the midst of the city's antique gallery scene in De Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. Not only does Jaski represent famous artists like the late Karel Appel, but the gallery also sells etchings, books, lithographs, and silkscreen prints.
At the fair, the gallery exhibited provocative work by Michel van der Heijden van Tinteren and Roel Moonen, who work together as Atelier Les Deux Garçons. Their new exhibition, "La Revanche" (The Revenge), use taxidermy sculptures of animals, clad in different costumes and poses, in a way that both evokes sympathy for the creatures and pokes fun at human behavior.
These 3-D parables could also be viewed as sarcastic commentaries on animal rights, as well as the wrongs that humans inflict on them.
Exhibiting for the fourth time at PAN Amsterdam, this young gallery specializes in all sorts of cutting-edge art from around the world. The owners are especially drawn to artists who use materials in a new way and photographers with original perspectives.
Among the photographic works they exhibited at this year's fair, the duo Formento + Formento stood out. Images from their "Japan Diaries" series combine the couple's fascination with traditional woodblock prints, Japanese movies from the 1950s, and the sexy side of "ero guro nansensu", a configuration of erotica, the horrific and the absurd, such as women being accosted by tentacles.
Each member of the duo plays different parts. Richeille Formento provides the styling and art direction while BJ Formento does the lights and camerawork. As revealed by the work exhibited in Amsterdam, it's a potent combination.
This gallery has a 35-year track record, starting in The Hague before moving to Oisterwijk. Its willingness to embrace artists of all different stripes, and to take chances on representing the work of talented upstarts, has made its reputation skyrocket in creative circles.
A strong example of this openness to innovation is the works of glass art by Andrej Jakab. Simply put, his work is spellbinding. It's enough to make even the most jaded critic suspend their critical faculties for a moment to be awed by these glass sculptures.
Imbued with a sense of floating grace and sculpted into shapes that resemble birds, flowers, and coral, Jakab's work is touched by a uniquely delicate vision and collected by many connoisseurs, curators and fans like Sir Elton John.
Having a look at the homepage of its website or paying a visit to the gallery, and you may ask yourself whether this is an exhibition space or a showroom. Seeing the vast array of creative endeavors on offer, melding fashion, design, and art, it's a dual-purpose venue for multi-disciplinarians.
The Dutch gallery was founded in 2007 by the respected art historian Pien Rademakers, who wanted to combine her interests in female artists and sustainability.
Barbara Nanning is one such creator. Back in 1994, she first combined her passion for crafting ceramic shapes with glass blowing by sawing, grinding, and polishing the works. The result is objets d'art, inlaid with gold and glass-sculpted in the Czech Republic, which brightened up PAN Amsterdam with their brilliance.
As the organizer of exhibitions in tribute to geniuses like René Magritte, Paul Gauguin and Claude Monet, the gallery has grown into a colossus in Europe. They mostly deal in masterpieces, created between the year 1880 and today.
One such contemporary figure is Chun Kwang Young. Now 75, among South Korean artists, he’s an elder statesman with an international reputation. Having studied art in the US, upon returning to his motherland, he began fusing abstract expressionism with traditional Korean mulberry paper, once used to wrap medicines in pharmacies, and in books.
To this day, the artist repurposes pages from old books as the raw material for his imagination-stretching canvases. If you look closely, you can see little messages. He believes that the spirits of everyone who touched those pages are in some way part of his artworks.
Whatever one might think of his spiritual inclinations, the work is an apt metaphor when it comes to PAN Amsterdam and the power of such creativity to link generations, nationalities and different modes of expression into an inclusive and inspiring view of humanity.