WOEST is a journey through Willem van Genk’s restless mind. His quest for meaning in a world that
baffled him led him to create overwhelming art. Van Genk (1927–2005) initially painted astonishing
panoramas of cities. His later oil paintings on panels joined by nails reflected his fragmented world.
Fascism, communism, books, parades, maps, trains, trolleys, murders, executions, shooting
gangsters, impressive monuments, sparkling fountains and portraits of famous men: his imaginative
inner world flowed over his paintings in a multitude of colours.
In the course of her international research, curator and art historian Ans van Berkum discovered
remarkable works that will be exhibited in the Netherlands for the first time. Other special loans
include Metrostation Opéra, a splendid depiction of the Paris metro station from the Stedelijk
Museum collection, and the magnificent Kiev Station Moskou from the Rijksmuseum.
The exhibition has been designed by renowned Flemish fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck. He
is a great admirer of Willem van Genk’s work: ‘The energy, force and audacity with which van Genk
creates art moves me. I hope visitors will be intrigued by his multi-faceted talent and allow
themselves to be drawn into the rich world of his imagination.’
During an audio tour, journalist and publicist Hugo Borst explores Willem van Genk’s dynamic
imagination. Mr Borst is also fascinated by the artist’s work: ‘I think he is one of this country’s bestkept secrets. Not many people know that Willem van Genk is one of the Netherlands’ greatest
twentieth-century artists.’
‘WOEST’ will be held at the Outsider Art Museum at the Hermitage Amsterdam from 19 September
2019 until 15 March 2020. The accompanying catalogue published by Lannoo is available for €24.99.
Classical music was an important source of inspiration for Willem van Genk — he described his works
as ‘symphonies that come out of my brain’. He was above all enthralled by the music and ideas of
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975), who resisted all forms of oppression. Jules van Hessen will conduct
a performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony (‘Leningrad’) at the Concertgebouw in
Amsterdam on Monday 21 October in honour of Willem van Genk.