Behind the Gallery: Passion and Craftsmanship at Galerie Wilms
Meet Paul Wilms and Carla Wilms-Scheffers, not your average gallery owners. Ten years ago the pair decided they weren’t going to wait any longer to turn their biggest dream into a reality, so both of them quit their jobs in order to establish Galerie Wilms, a contemporary art gallery that’s home to internationally established artists as well as upcoming talent.
Galerie Wilms is located in Venlo, a small city in the most southern province of the Netherlands, nearby the German and Belgian borders. At these crossroads, Venlo invites a very diverse public into its historic walls that date back to the 15th century. Paul adequately describes the city as having a ‘nice size’ with approximately 100.630 residents; not everybody knows each other but nobody is anonymous either, resulting in a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
That same atmosphere can also be felt within the gallery itself.
Paul and Carla are some of the most passionate gallery owners you will ever meet, for they are extremely committed to their artists as well as their public. Out of the 24 artists that are currently in the “stable”, as they say in Dutch, the majority have been with Wilms from the very beginning. This is due to the fact that Paul and Carla make supporting their artists a priority, offering them guidance in their personal development as well as with their artistic career paths.
At the same time, their mission is to engage with everybody that enjoys art or in some way feels passionate about it, not just the fortunate few in possession of the means to buy. A couple of years ago for example, they held the first edition of Amuses, presenting small and affordable works to allow passers-by to get acquainted with the art world in an accessible way.
After taking a quick glance at some of the artwork that has been exhibited at Galerie Wilms in the past, one might notice that humans and nature form some of the central themes, sometimes in an obvious sense, but more often in a quirky or nuanced manner.
Above all, Paul and Carla value excellent craftsmanship, exemplified best by the work of the interdisciplinary artist Suzanne Jongmans. As a sculptor, costume designer and photographer, Jongmans creates exquisite portraits and (as of recently) still-lifes, singlehandedly taking care of every single step in the production process. Jongmans finds her own models, after which she custom makes their clothing, using unlikely materials such as foam rubber, and then photographs every detail multiple times. This results in her characteristically, razor-sharp images with highly defined textures.
These are subsequently printed on Hahnemühle paper, which is known to deeply absorb the ink, producing a matte finish and therefore a much richer print. Because this process is quite labor-intensive, Jongmans produces 5 or 6 photographs per year at most, making her work even more rare and increasingly special.
Suzanne Jongmans, Kindred Spirits - Kind Words
Suzanne Jongmans, Still Here - Samsara
It’s always fun to know what art world professionals have hanging on their own walls, especially when a renowned expert in Old Masters confesses to solely collecting contemporary abstract works. But in the case of Paul and Carla, who live above the gallery, it’s reassuring to know that what lies downstairs may also be found upstairs. Their shared idealism is not restricted to work-mode, it is in fact a way of life.
Furthermore, these two serious collectors are also exploring their love for Ethnography, again tying into their fondness of true craftsmanship. Paul appreciates how the old and the new often complement each other in a unique way, which can also be said for Jongmans, whose contemporary portraits refer back to 15th, 16th and 17th century traditions.
Suzanne Jongmans, Kindred Spirits - Sensibility
At Galerie Wilms, the doors are always open and everybody is welcome.
Clients travel from all over the country and beyond for the gallery’s high-quality exhibition program, something Paul and Carla have strived for since the very beginning. And to celebrate their ten year milestone this spring, they are hosting a very special exhibition featuring recent work by all 24 artists. These works demonstrate what the artists are currently working on as well as the progress each one has made over the years.
But most importantly, this exhibition symbolizes Paul and Carla’s commitment to their artists, their community, and the art world itself.
10 years Galerie Wilms will be festively opening on Sunday May 7th from 13.00 – 18.00h, on the Nieuwstraat 50 in Venlo.
If you can’t make it then don’t worry, the gallery is also taking part in KunstRAI in Amsterdam from May 31st until June 5th, exhibiting works by Suzanne Jongmans (solo), Matijs van de Kerkhof, Sandra Kruisbrink and Alexandra Roozen.
For more information about Galerie Wilms and their available artworks, please have look here!