Anton Reijnders: And the Meaning of Things

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HOLLAND HAS FOUND THE KEY TO SMOOTHER traffic circulation. In recent years roundabouts have been constructed on a massive scale, in most cases with ample central reserves. By now, there are more than 4000 of them and local or other authorities have provided an estimated ten percent of them with art, usually sculptures: sculptures of steel, glass or natural materials. Mostly, they offer a rather saddening sight: the works look lonesome and forlorn. For an artist, creating something special for a dull roundabout proves no easy job. But there are exceptions. Artist and architect John Kormeling, for instance, built a house on a roundabout in the city of Tilburg. He put it on rails and, driven by an electric motor, the house now rotates in sync with the revolving traffic. On an inner-city roundabout in the district of Hintham in his city of residence 's-Hertogenbosch, artist Anton Reijnders placed a remarkable ceramic piece that--while staying close to his own autonomous work--adds something special to the phenomenon of 'roundabout art'.

All the more remarkable because Reijnders confesses to hate art on roundabouts. Nevertheless, he accepted the commission. "In recent years, my work has increased in size," Reijnders says. "I felt I was ready for a large work in the public space." The work, Hinthamer Bekooring [Hintham Temptation] is the first in a series of ceramic pieces proposed by the city of 's-Hertogenbosch for placement on several locations around the city. For Hinthamer Bekooring Anton Reijnders drew inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch's painting The Temptation of St. Anthony, which is in a museum in Lisbon, but also from the history of 's-Hertogenbosch and the village of Hintham, which was swallowed up by 's-Hertogenbosch.

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Hinthamer Bekooring--unveiled on February 27, 2008--is a logical continuation of a series of pieces Anton Reijnders (Venray, the Netherlands, 1955) exhibited in places varying from Amsterdam and Zutphen to the Gimhae Clayarch Museum, Gimhae, South Korea. There he placed ceramic objects on high, wooden tables with thin, stilt-like legs. On the roundabout, Reijnders placed a galvanized platform on a height of 3 m, resting on a series of steel tubes. On this platform, measuring 4.5 x 1 m, Reijnders arranged some 30 ceramic objects loosely together. The forms refer to earlier works by Reijnders: A growing form, a pear-like form, a pawn, a raised finger, a turret and a sphere. Unlike the piece Stage from 2006, for instance, which consists of forms that have a monochrome and matt surface, the objects on the platform have been provided with colour. But as always Reijnders' work is detached and modest. The colours are quiet and restrained. From a distance, the objects on the raised platform form the outlines of a city.

The installation consists of elements varying in height from 23 to 160 cm. Some of these elements are recognizable. Four black turrets represent the corner turrets of the characteristic Anna Church of Hintham a bit further on. The construction on the slightly raised roundabout also refers to the area around the village which used to be inundated to protect the city against attackers. The respectful bow to medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch was introduced after conversations with the committee made up of residents and representatives of the city of 's-Hertogenbosch had revealed that a link with the famous painter who lived and worked in 's-Hertogenbosch in the 16th century was desired. For Reijnders, this was no problem at all. On the contrary, Reijnders admires the work of Bosch, whom he considers a precursor of humanism. In Reijnders' opinion, the work of Hieronymus Bosch is primarily about the human will. "Bosch lived at the end of the Middle Ages. It is evident that he was preoccupied with the questions of his era. At the end of the Middle Ages, the human individual made a modest appearance. …