This artist, who was born and brought up in Rotterdam, spent a great deal of his life in the Dutch province of South Limburg. His work can now be seen once again in Rotterdam, the city De Haas felt homesick for throughout his life. The main theme of the exhibition is based around several self-portraits that together provide a delightful cross-section of his richly varied oeuvre and the way in which it developed. His work is characterised by social themes such as religion, suffering, power, temptation and eroticism. In addition to one hundred and ten paintings, the exhibition also comprises graphics, drawings and various household goods that De Haas painted.
From religion to eroticism
Aad de Haas considered art and life to be very closely related. He painted many portraits of his wife and children, but interiors and animals in and around the home were also favoured subjects. De Haas is particularly well-known for his religiously inclined work incorporating his deeply-felt religious convictions into images of real life events that included certain saints such as St Francis of Assisi, St Lidwina of Schiedam and St Anthony. In 1947, De Haas was prominent in the news due to the social debate and vehement polemic concerning his Stations of the Cross for Saint Cunibert's Church in Wahlwiller (the Netherlands). Condemnation by the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Roermond and the accompanying negative publicity created a major setback in his life and resulted in a change of style. De Haas started to experiment with themes that focused on fear, betrayal and temptation.
The exhibition gives wide attention to his early, Impressionist work with its ‘blurry' style, his Expressionist period in the 1950s spurred on by the Wahlwiller affair, and his later work in which the two styles converge. In the 1960s, it was eroticism that characterised his work. The exhibition concludes with a remarkable selection of paintings and drawings that were discovered in his studio following his death in 1922. Furthermore, the exhibition features five never before exhibited works that came to light following wide response to an appeal made by the Kunsthal for owners of private collections to loan works by De Haas.
Aad de Haas
Aad de Haas (Rotterdam, 1920 - 1972) graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam in 1942. As a result of his strict Catholic upbringing, he was inspired as a student by biblical stories. During the Second World War, his work was declared ‘entartet' (‘degenerate art') and De Haas spent a short time in the Haagse Veer prison in Rotterdam. After his release in 1944, he went into hiding in the Dutch province of South Limburg, where he lived for the rest of his life as a progressive and socially responsible artist. De Haas continues to work on an extremely personal and unique oeuvre and in relative isolation from the art world.