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It all started with a silver coat. Leon, my husband, was scrolling through an update of the Dutch consulate in New York, where he stumbled upon a beautiful silver coat. It would suit me well, he thought. Immediately, he sent an email to the fashion designer of this piece, who unfortunately had to disappoint him, telling the coat had to remain overseas. Yet, she was willing to create a new one especially for me. That is how I arrived at the studio of Liselore Frowijn. Back than we did not know, the coat would become an exhibition.

That day, Liselore and I went on about fashion, art and design. During our conversation, I proposed her to come up with a concept for a possible new exhibition. Thinking about her influence in the fashion industry, I was expecting a dazzling fashion proposal. But to my surprise, it was anything-but-that. In March this year, I received Liselore’s idea where she envisioned an ambitious plan for a post-quarantine exhibition with mainly visual art. While Liselore was in lockdown in the Netherlands and I in Spain, it seemed like a challenging but advanced concept. Yet, we started working on it.

It was a fascinating process in which different directions were explored. Weekly phone calls connected us in times of distance. Multiple emails and messages filled with artworks and collages went back and forth. Discussions on the concept got deepened out, taking inspirations from literature and philosophy. Close to the end of the lockdown, thoughts became tangible. The concept was a finalized, the exhibition ONWARD&UPWARD – Art in the Garden of Life was a fact, accompanied with an additional scenography and a list of multiple artists that resonating with the theme.

As with all my previous exhibitions, the work of the artists was leading. Each artist added a new layer to the story line we wanted to share. What was intended to be as a post-quarantine exhibition, did not hold on, neither an exhibition about the inspiration artists got during the lockdown, which is eventually a good thing, considering the second-wave situation we're in now. The exhibition we hand in mind would draw inspiration from our uncertain present. However, looking beyond the particular anxieties of our current crises, we decided that the exhibition would question whether there has ever been a time of genuine security and stability.

Liselore and I created an exhibition that reflects on the many uncertainties and pitfalls of life itself, and on our enduring, will to continue. Therefore we all are in need of comfort and strength. In the exhibition we wanted to show art that embraces and comforts us, moves us, inspires and stimulates us to move on. No heavy political themes as a guideline, but focus on visual power. Human feelings are in the foreground and sometimes they touch on today's major themes and sometimes they are very personal.

This approach is close to me, as I always try to make exhibitions, from a positive point of view.  For example my previous exhibition NOW LOOK HERE. The African Art of Appearance, in which the power and beauty of African art and culture took central stage.

I believe that art can provide comfort. Music, poetry and visual arts have the power to soften wounds and carry us through challenging times.

ONWARD&UPWARD is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11.00 to 18.00 hrs.


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