The definition of artistry is continuously subject to change. If the creators of the pyramids in ancient Egypt were nameless servants of their god-like pharaoh, then Rubens and Rembrandt were, despite their fame, in essence no more than servants of their various patrons, entirely dependent on them for commissions. In romanticism, however, we see how the arts emancipate themselves and become supply, instead of demand, led. The artist is dominant and sets the agenda, his clients are moneyed citizens who want to feed upon his genius and art becomes autonomous.
The variations between the two poles sketched here are endless and the study of the artist and his role in the world are sources of permanent fascination.
Ronald A. Westerhuis is an artist whose participation in this discourse is remarkable. He came from the offshore oil industry and built rigs, from where he derived his penchant for steel and large dimensions in the arts. What makes him unique is that he apparently travels back and forth with ease between Asia and Europe, between Shanghai and Zwolle. It doesn’t seem to matter where he is and with whom he works or does business. Perhaps it’s because in both continents his work never fails to be appreciated. He also has a completely down to earth attitude with regards to its autonomy. He creates what he thinks is beautiful but, at the same time, he selflessly allows his clients to assert their taste, which he works into his art in one large ‘joint venture’.
After three years of travelling backwards and forwards between Biddinghuizen and the castle garden, Westerhuis’s work, RAWSOME!, now has a permanent place in the sculpture garden of the Nijenhuis. The imposing steel ball with a diameter of 4 metres stood at the LowLands music festival in 2010, 2011 and 21012. It was a joint investment by the festival and Museum de Fundatie. A real commission where Ronald A. Westerhuis was given the task to create a work of art that would work just as well at a busy festival as in a quiet garden for sculptures. The concave and convex mirrors were the ideal backdrop for a bombardment of selfies at both locations.
Ronald A. Westerhuis polished a characteristic ‘skin’ on four monumental sculptures by Daniel Liebeskind, which were destined for the universal exhibition Expo Milano 2015 in Milan. He is also working on a series of work inspired by the ancient Chinese scholar rocks. I am convinced that Westerhuis’s artistry, which has been included in private and corporate collections as well as that of the Museum de Fundatie, will continue to take surprising turns in the years to come, and I look forward to it.
Director, Museum de Fundatie