Интернет-журнал "Новости искусства в Санкт-Петербурге"

Exhibition of June 2014

«They opened a door forever!»

24.05.2014 - 25.06.2014

They opened a door forever!

This exhibition is dedicated to the two wonderful persons, a married couple Mr. & Mrs. Harry Blom! To twenty years of our acquaintance with them and, hopefully, twenty years of friendship! Wife of Harry, Machteld - wonderful person of the finest soul, as if she stepped out from the beautiful paintings by Dutch masters, she has always been with us and artists very friendly, with a beautiful, natural smile, she bravely endured presence of Petersburg bohemians in his cozy home, supporting her husband's passion. She and Harry found our gallery in distant1993. You had to be great amateur of art to find the gallery almost at the edge of the city of Saint-Petersburg. Just now we are enjoying the Moyka Embankment, where we are, and then you had to find us on the street Sestroretskaya. We were fortunate enough to meet them. Harry came into the gallery, very long and carefully examined the pictures! He was interested in all sorts of little things, the details, names, saying nothing to him, but it's amazing how carefully he listened and how much he was asking questions about art! Fortunately for us, Harry spoke well in Russian, as then we have learned from him, it was prepared to "spy work" in the Soviet Union, but at the time of the meeting it was no longer relevant. It was very easy to talk to him, only one struck us - on what a beautiful Russian language he spoke, figures of his speech, as if the words were of a good book, these words were spoken by aristocrats before the revolution. We were familiar with such the Russian language only by classical literature and in life Russian language has undergone a lot of changes this time, he did not become worse, he was another!

His interest was genuine. He often came to Saint-Petersburg, we introduce him with the artists, went to them in studios with great pleasure. Harry had a very important meeting in our gallery with Mikhail Herman - Professor, Doctor of Arts, Academician of the Academy of the Humanities, a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), chief scientific officer of the State Russian Museum. Mikhail, despite his busy schedule, often visited the exhibitions, which we carried out in the gallery "S.P.A.S.", for what we are eternally grateful to him, as his opinion, the assessment of what is happening in contemporary art were for all extremely important.

Coming to Saint-Petersburg, Harry was prepared, he knew whom, what he wants to visit in the studios. For many years we, making our gallery's work, studying the artistic life of the city, tried to convey to our friend all the most interesting. But to cover all unreal, in Saint-Petersburg a huge amount of great artists from different directions, and you need to make a choice. Harry made his choice. We listened to him and helped him in this. He is very thorough, methodical person, his actions are always thought out. We remember, as he had a long talk with the artists, not just buying their paintings for his collection but understood and figured out what work of arts for the artist is program for him, which picture most reveals his nature and his views. Harry has created a very interesting collection. His collection - it was his personal view on what is happening in the art of Saint-Petersburg at a turning point in our history. His collection - this is the section of diverse, multi-layered palette of Petersburg art that was most attractive to him personally, section, which already stood the test of time, the section that is worthy took its place in the museum halls of the history. He started to make his collection at a time when already nobody anything prohibited to the artists. They were already completely free, and most importantly, they have become very popular. With the opening of the Iron Curtain there was a huge interest in Russian art. It was for the whole world completely new, and the world is learning rushed.

Soon Harry began to invite our gallery and artists to his home in Brussels, giving us the opportunity to show paintings in Europe. In his house, on the ground floor, he equipped room, where we were brought the paintings together with the artists and showed them to his friends. Interest was great. It was not just the exhibitions of Russian artists, there were exhibitions, that Harry had carefully prepared, he, with materials, talked about our artists, the directions, that was a source of such a direction, that preceded it. His educational work is difficult to measure and re-evaluate. He was so passionate about Russian art, it was hard to resist and do not get carried away by all who heard him. His collection, which saw friends, was a serious acknowledgment of his rightness. Harry generously shared with all his knowledge and his sincere feelings of love for Russian, to the Petersburg art, many of his friends: Stephan and Fredie van Binsbergen, Jan and Ammy van Gooswilligen, Angela Maas and Nita Bosschart, Ine and Jan Paul Grobben, Bente Nielsen, Lia Otterspeer, Dunya Buisman, Olga van der Baan, Hans Braat, and of course Harry's sister Riet and her husband Jick and many, many, many other invited us and artists with solo exhibitions to their homes to show beautiful pictures now to their circle of friends, and we are all very grateful for that.

Now Harry themaitre, the professionals listen to his opinion, his collection exhibits in museums. And we continue to work, continue to do interesting exhibitions, look for new, interesting artists and try to promote our Russian art in Europe, try to do our work well, as it befits one of the best galleries of Saint-Petersburg, and one of the three galleries surviving in Saint-Petersburg until today since already distant time when the Iron Curtain opened, and, therefore, our course has been chosen correctly!


Russia’s history and literature have always fascinated me.
What I experienced during my first trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 1993 more than lived up to my expectations. My enthusiasm was such that I decided to return that same year in the autumn. I then became acquainted with the SPAS gallery, bought my first paintings and soon decided that I would try to create an overview of the pictorial scene in the former Russian capital.

It would be intriguing to find out how painters responded to their newly acquired freedom and how the former non-conformists would develop.

Seventy years of communism had had an enormous impact on artists, who were condemned to follow the rigid rules of socialist realism, glorifying the benefits of the regime.

Bearing in mind the words of Mikhail German, Chief Curator of the Russian Museum, ”Moscow is the money, Saint Petersburg the spirit”, I decided for both financial and practical reasons, to restrict my collection to Peter the Great’s city. “Less is more”.

For the first years of collecting I mostly went through the SPAS gallery. In close collaboration with Sergey Tiurin, the director, and his wife Natasha I decided which painters to meet during my next trip.

In February 1994 I was back again in Saint Petersburg and it was then, 20 years ago, that Sergey and I decided to organize an exhibition in our house in Brussels, which was due to take place in June 1994.

I still can see Sergey arriving at Zaventem Airport carrying quite a lot of canvases rolled up under his arm, accompanied by the painter Shraga carrying the frames.

This exhibition, the first of many to follow, was a huge success and consequently the plane was soon replaced by Sergey’s own car.

Given the increasing interest in Brussels for what was going on in the former Soviet Union, I decided to turn a couple of cellar rooms underneath our house into a private gallery/exhibition space. This would have two advantages: it would provide room for my private collection, and at the same time it would make it possible to organize new selling exhibitions for the SaintPetersburg painters once or twice a year.

And so we did. Many selling exhibitions were held in the following years and not only in Belgium, also in Holland, in the houses of family and friends: my sister and brother-in-law in Apeldoorn, the Van Binsbergens in Utrecht, the Braat family in Zutphen, Olga van der Baan in Huizen and Buisman’s Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis in Amsterdam. Especially need to be mentioned Ammy and Jan van Gooswilligen in De Wijk.

Machteld and I moved back to Utrecht after my retirement in 2013 into a house unfortunately too small for the organization of further exhibitions.

However, Ammy and Jan had a house big enough for that sort of happenings and many times the Tiurins found with them a warm welcome for their activities.

It goes without saying that Sergey was always accompanied by a painter: Shraga, Malkov, Gerasimov, Steinman and Kostroma.

During all those years I had been constantly trying to extend my own collection. What I was and still am interested in, in the new artistic SaintPetersburg after perestroika, was not the traditional style of painting as embodied by the RepinAcademy nor was it socialist realism extolling communist heroism.

I was looking for what was truly new and innovative.

Besides the sweet memories I cherish, I am profoundly grateful to Sergey Tiurin and Natasha for their friendship and their help enabling me to find my way through artistic Pitr and to build my own collection.

I wish them good luck, privately and professionally, for the next 20 years!

Utrecht, Easter 2014,
Harry D.H.Blom