Visiting Atelier Van Lieshout

The term ‘atelier,’ studio of a professional artist, painter, sculptor, where the principal master and his assistants and apprentices create together, was coined during the Middle Ages, when the system of art education and training was enforced by the guilds. Think about this core idea of the atelier and you can imagine the monumental building of Atelier Van Lieshout, set on the waterfront in Rotterdam, where we visited in the Dutch Design Tour. The master, Joep Van Lieshout founded the atelier in the 90s, and this is where he creates sculptures, furniture, public works, buildings, and art installations, that capture the life of the human body in the most unorthodox, often controversial way. Sex, death, and morality, are key themes in his work, which is always sensual, challenging notions of good taste, raising questions of how we live, and extending boundaries of art, design, and architecture. Like a Renaissance master, Van Lieshout is knowledgeable, informed, curious, passionate, breathing his art, and never limits himself. I found him to be inspiring, fresh, full of freedom, and so genuine, that when we entered his home, situated in the same complex and just next door to the atelier, it was not a surprise, but rather a perfect expression of his own identity. I want to thank Carpenters Workshop Gallery, to Julien Lombrail, Loic Le Gaillard, and Cedric Morisset for making this memorable visit possible. 

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