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from 20 August to 28 November 2021

Fer Hakkaart – The absurd reality

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During his sixty-year career, painter Fer Hakkaart has manifested himself primarily as a sharp portraitist of ordinary people, whom he portrays in merciless detail. Hakkaart draws inspiration from his immediate surroundings. With an amused look, he observes passers-by and marvels at the ease with which they live, work and enjoy themselves. A new small exhibition in Museum De Lakenhal shows his realistic work over the years.

Fer Hakkaart is a kind of contemporary Leiden fine painter. For about sixty years, he has drawn inspiration from the city centre and observed its inhabitants. He prefers to portray ordinary people, from V&D customers to snack bar visitors. The anonymous people in his portraits often radiate loneliness, whether they are in everyday or strange scenes.

The painter is now eighty years old and still active. In this exhibition, eleven figurative works by his hand are on display, painted in the period from 1962 to 2021. Five of them - three paintings and two pastels - are even being exhibited for the first time. The works come from the collection of Museum De Lakenhal and from Hakkaart's own collection.

Through the eyes of the artist, we see the city of Leiden and its inhabitants change. At the same time we see Hakkaart himself moving with the times, constantly seeking and growing towards the next stage of realistic painting.


Hakkaart's work has a very individual style. He portrays figures subdued and often introverted, as if they have difficulty communicating with each other and therefore look shyly past each other. The painter brings them to life by resolutely revealing their clothes or bodies. With great precision, he paints fabrics, textures and gloss.

Since 2000, he increasingly emphasises painted reality as illusion. This is magnified with a heavier use of colour, a rhythmic brushstroke and large, almost abstract surfaces. The cityscape and landscape as background are replaced by decors and wallpapers. He paints real people and dolls as competing characters in an absurd spectacle.

Despite the fact that there is a subtle humour in Hakkaart's work, it is rarely cheerful. Curator Rob Wolthoorn: 'Think of the folk scenes of Jan Steen. At first glance, these also seem cheerful, but there is always something that is not right or someone who is being bullied. In the works of Hakkaart too, the atmosphere is rather oppressive or charged, despite the perhaps familiar urban background.'

Photo: Simone_Both

About Fer Hakkaart

Fer Hakkaart (Leiden, 1941) is originally a graphic artist. At sixteen he worked in a print shop and from 1958 to 1963 he followed an evening course at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He produces figurative, abstract and expressionist work. Parts of his oeuvre are included in the collections of Museum De Lakenhal, Museum MORE, Rijksmuseum Prentenkabinet Amsterdam, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, PrentenKabinet Leiden, LUMC Leiden and private individuals.

On the occasion of Hakkaart's 80th birthday, two other exhibitions about the painter can be seen in Leiden this autumn. At Amber Gallery, drawings, etchings and pastels can be seen from 19 September to 17 October. At Ars Aemula Naturae paintings and assemblages can be seen from 1 to 17 October.

Photo: Marit Geluk

Film portrait

In the summer of his eightieth year the painter Fer Hakkaart from Leiden was portrayed by filmmaker Marit Geluk. A film about everyday life in the Haarlemmerstraat, which Fer Hakkaart observes from his studio. About his fascination for popular cheerfulness and Bruegelian scenes. About his inability to participate in carnivals and fairs and about his ability to grasp absurd reality in inspired, realistic paintings.

I am fascinated by ordinary people who do nothing, but have a lot of fun.

Fer Hakkaart in the documentairy 'Fer Hakkaart - The absurd reality'

Fer Hakkaart, De draaideur, 1980-1981
Fer Hakkaart, De draaideur, 1980-1981