In the summer of 1997, Willem Baars opened his art space in the Plantage neighborhood in Amsterdam. In the first years, the focus was on the art trade, specializing in works on paper by modern masters. The first exhibition in December 1997 was a mix of prints by the German expressionists Hermann M. Pechstein, Lovis Corinth and Käthe Kollwitz, and American pop artists Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann and Roy Lichtenstein. This variety in scope was and still is the gallery’s guiding principle. Willem Baars Projects is more than just a gallery – it is also a knowledge center that organizes lectures and publications, and actively participates in the public debate. In the past twenty years, Willem Baars has published works on an variety of subjects and artists.
From 2003, the activities were expanded with the active representation of artists. The first exhibitions and projects involving contemporary art focused on young Indian artists well before the hype. With the move to our current space at Hoogte Kadijk in 2010, the gallery program was expanded with the representation of a number of prominent Dutch artists. The focus is on painting and sculpture. We participate in art fairs such as Art Rotterdam and use Artnet as a platform to bring our artists to the attention of an international public.
We regularly invite curators/artists to organize presentations within an international context. After India the focus during the past years has shifted to Japan and the Middle East. A landmark was the exhibition The Middle East in 2011 that put the gallery on the international map. The artists Ahmed Mater, Abdulnasser Gharem and Rana Begum, who were relatively unknown at the time, had their works shown at Hoogte Kadijk. A further highlight was the impressive presentation in 2017 of works by the Japanese minimalist Tadaaki Kuwayama. This exhibition came about in collaboration with Gallery Yamaguchi kunst-bau in Osaka. Searching and finding connections at a national and international level is essential to ensure that we can continue to present a challenging program as well as helping the gallery to hold its own in the changing market conditions.
Arend Velsink, Amsterdam
Gert Jan van Rooij, Amsterdam