Located in the historic Van Nellefabriek in Rotterdam, Art Rotterdam opened this year for the twenty-fourth time and featured over 100 international galleries. Art Rotterdam counts as one of the most important art fairs in the Netherlands and attracts a wide range of people, from artists, curators, art-lovers to well-known collectors – and students.

Favourite colours

Artwork by Thorbjørn Bechmann_Lisa Habernik
Julia’s favourite artwork by Thorbjørn Bechmann (gallery Kant, Copenhagen). Image credit: Lisa Habernik

Julia Niżnik (23): “Since it was my first art fair, I mainly wanted to figure out what it is all about. It was less commercial than I thought it would be. I thought maybe it would be more like at the Blaak market. Like people really trying to sell you something.

“At this point of my life, I’m not a collector yet, but I want to become one, so this fair was a great starting point to gain more knowledge and make connections. However, I didn’t like that you were only able to see just one or two artworks per artist. If you go to an exhibition at a gallery you see more works of one artist.

“My favourite piece was the painting by Thorbjørn Bechmann because it had my favourite colours – purple and blue – in it. I could really identify myself with it.”

Showing off

Anaïs Siegler (25): “I previously worked at a fair in Amsterdam but it was my first time at Art Rotterdam.

The fair was really interesting but also quite traditional with mostly paintings. There were also so many art works that I can’t even tell which work was my favourite.

“I walked through the fair really trying to notice things. I think there was a lot of showing off happening. Like the red dots that galleries would put up next to paintings to signal that they made a sale. Some galleries where more casual while with others you could sense that they would only engage with you if they thought you would buy something.

“To buy art you need to be in a very comfortable position. And at the moment I don’t see myself there yet. But my family has a lot of art in their house and I sure like that.”

Straight to the point

Artwork by Hans Vandekerckhove_Lisa Habernik
Cedric’s favourite artwork by Hans Vandekerckhove (gallery Tatjana Pieters, Gent). Image credit: Lisa Habernik

Cedric Ponson (25): “At the fair I got the impression that the international galleries are way friendlier to you. They are more focused on establishing connections and making an impression while the Dutch galleries are very straight to the point trying to make a sale.

“After visiting the fair, I’m planning on buying art in the future. Especially at a fair like this where you see so many options. Right now, the art feels very intangible in a sense because I’m just looking at it knowing that I can’t afford it. But not being able to buy anything makes it a way more enjoyable experience. It almost makes me appreciate it more because I focus less on how it would look in my house.

“My favourite piece was the painting from Hans Vandekerckhove. If I had the money, I would definitely buy it!”

Something in return

Artworks by Daan Couzijn_Lisa Habernik
Philana’s favourite artwork by Daan Couzijn. Image credit: Lisa Habernik

Philana Zimny (23): “I liked the fair because it was a lively experience. Normally if you go to museums and look at art it is more of a quiet atmosphere. I was very curious to see this cultural side and commercial side coming together at the art fair. But at the end of the day, it was clear that it was not an exhibition but galleries where there to sell their stuff.

“I thought that the art works would be more expensive but most of them were priced at around 10.000 euros or lower. I’m willing to spend money on things that give me something in return that is more than their original function. Especially when it comes to art you don’t necessarily have a function. I have not bought any art yet but currently as a student I would be willing to spend up to 500 euros if I found a piece that I really really liked.

“My favourite piece at Art Rotterdam was the four smaller paintings by Daan Couzijn because of the beautiful nature scenes and their colour transitions.”

Mayra Nassef volunteer IFFR – Elliot Zepeda

Read more

From obscure taxi rides to interviewing directors: these students volunteer at the film festival

Filmmakers and visual artists from over ninety countries are screening their work at IFFR…