Henk Peeters: lolita-detail
The title of the exhibition lolita-detail is taken from an artwork made out of foam, wood and steel from 1965. It invites its spectators to feel the material but at the same time prohibits doing so. As in our society, one is not allowed to touch the husband or wife of another, one does not touch a piece of art, and in no case a piece that does not belong to oneself. lolita-detail highlights the soft abstraction that Peeters’ work conveys, alluding to the feminine in his art, with motives that reverberate throughout the entire show.
In 1961 Peeters published the Manifesto against nothing (Manifest tegen niets) with other proponents of the international ZERO movement such as Piero Manzoni, one of the first supporters of his work. In that same year the Dutch art collective Nulgroep was formed with the goal of conquering ground for a new form of art in a new era and leaving the dark period of the Second World War behind. Peeters functioned as an important liaison between the Dutch group and the international ‘ZERO artists’ in Germany, Italy and France. The first group of works exhibited at Wilfried Lentz were designed during Peeters’ time with the Nulgroep. In this period the artist worked with materials (at the time considered new) that could be acquired in any shop such as cotton, wool, plastics or foam. Peeters presented the objects in all their plainness, declared them as empty and concrete. The spectator should not associate art with the materials used, but with sensual experience and spiritual pleasure. At the time critics in the Netherlands labelled ‘ZERO art’ as tedious and nihilistic. The number of visitors of the 1965 show Nul-2 in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam was high, but the response negative. Soon after this show Peeters escaped from the art sector for almost 30 years and became active for the Dutch society for Sexual Reform.
In the late 1990’s, Peeters returned to the arts and started working with cowhides. The hides, are made to be experienced with the senses. They are cut in various sized pieces and gain their own, individual expressions in their way of display. A group of small Hides produced in the last decade of Peeters’ life are exhibited in the show.
Over the last decade the growing importance of the ZERO movement has become more evident with prestigious museums dedicating exhibitions to it. Running parallel to lolita-detail is the exhibition ‘Zero let us explore the stars’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Similar survey exhibitions of the Zero Movement have lately taken place at the Guggenheim, New York (US) and the Martin-Gropius-Bau (DE).