Alphons Diepenbroukhof, Den Haag
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A timber merchant with a pile of planks on his shoulder, herring eaters, grazing cows, a mother with child, two ladies carrying groceries: they are all taken from life. The maker of these sculptures, the Katwijk sculptor Gerard Brouwer, died on 20 February 2017. He left behind an extensive oeuvre. His sculptures adorn public spaces, not only in Katwijk and Leiden, his birthplace, but also in The Hague and other Dutch cities.
The sculpture Groceries is located in the Waldeck shopping centre in Alphons Diepenbrockhof. Just two ladies, who seem to be posing for a moment. They stand still with shopping bags and ditto cart, as you would do if you were taking a photograph. Brouwer has captured them in a tangible and unaffected manner. But not on a sensitive plate, but in wax or clay and then cast in bronze.
Simplicity is characteristic of his work. It applies to both his choice of subjects and his working methods. He loved the grand gesture, not the detail. In his keen observations, the focus was on body and posture. Faces, for instance, are indicated, not exactly worked out. Like impressionist painters, who built up their work from unmixed patches of colour, Brouwer modelled a sculpture with pieces of wax or clay. This created the irregular surface that reflects the light in all directions and gives his pictures their liveliness.
Despite his successful career, Brouwer remained modest. He did not work in a studio, but in a workshop and was hardly ever satisfied with a result. That is why he did not like to walk past his own sculptures. I always see the shortcomings. It could always be better. A year before his death, the modest artist was honoured with a retrospective exhibition in the Katwijk DuneAtelier. He also received a municipal decoration for all that he had done for the visual arts in Katwijk.
* Website This is Katwijk - July 2013