Hans van der Ham

THE EBONY TOWER - Summer exhibition at galerie Nouvelles Images, The Hague

Mary Aly (DE)
Anton Cotteleer (BE)
Hans van der Ham (NL)
Christian Henkel (DE)
Rens Krikhaar (NL)
Robert Nicol (UK)
Oskar Nilsson (SE)
Aldwin van de Ven (NL)
Henk Visch (NL)


Curator: Hans van der Ham


Every year, Galerie Nouvelles Images in The Hague organises a special theme exhibition for the summer period. The past three years, these exhibitions were curated by artists represented by Nouvelles Images in consultation with the gallery. In 2014, painter Jan van der Pol selected works for the exhibition 'Beauty is for Free'; in 2013, photographer Jasper de Beijer compiled 'Viewmasters'; and in 2012, Joost van den Toorn did likewise for 'De Foute Beelden'. This year, we have invited sculptor and painter Hans van der Ham to select works for the upcoming summer exhibition. His selection will be presented under the title 'The Ebony Tower' at Galerie Nouvelles Images. Hans van der Ham on 'The Ebony Tower': “In John Fowles’s novella 'The Ebony Tower', a young artist visits an elderly and renowned painter for a few days to interview him about his work. During his stay, the interviewer becomes increasingly intrigued – and above all, confronted – by the older man’s personality and his stark views on life and art. In a unique climax, an encounter with the painter’s two (living!) muses causes the interloper to question his own place as an artist and his attitudes towards life. Inevitably, the young man falls in love with one of the girls, nicknamed ‘the Mouse’ (a deliberate corruption of Muse). Despite an initial fascination with the well-read young artist, the girl ultimately rejects his love. This event has a profound impact on the younger man – as does the elder artist’s statement that in his view, all developments in contemporary art taking place at that time (the story was written in the early 1970s) should be relegated to t he ‘ebony tower’ (implied to be the antithesis of the ivory tower). The visitor’s acute awareness of what his unattainable muse actually embodies – that which for him, will forever remain beyond reach: art’s inspiration – ultimately becomes unbearable. He returns to the order of the day, a changed man… The artists selected for the exhibition 'The Ebony Tower' all work far from such a structure. The ‘signature style’ of their work betrays genuine interaction with the muses. Or, as the writer Jeroen Brouwers once put it in an interview: ‘my words need to literally flow from my hand,’ – without first being channelled through mechanical aids like typewriters or word processors. This immediacy, this sophisticated interplay of reason and intuition, served as my point of departure in producing this exhibition.”

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