Meet Marjo van Kleeff

‘Art distracts you from the daily grind. It lightens your day’

Marjo van Kleeff’s connection with WTC Amsterdam stretches back to 2004 when she started a small gallery, Art Angels, in the brand new H tower. ‘It was an intimate, personal shop, which was a real contrast to the business and bustle of the WTC,’ she says.

When the gallery closed, the WTC asked her to stay on and put together regular exhibitions in the complex’s public spaces. And her experiences as a former tenant have made Marjo the perfect curator for the revolving art shows, which change five times a year. ‘My role has developed out of a more dynamic approach towards art in public spaces,’ she says. ‘Art distracts you from the daily grind because it is unexpected, it lightens you day.’

The size and style of the WTC spaces – and the constraints posed by fire and other precautions – do limit what can exhibited. The lighting is important too, as are the vistas which the art creates across the long stretch of Central Hall. She draws her inspiration from meeting artists at home and abroad, and visiting young talents in their studios. ‘I compare art to cooking,’ she says. ‘You need to taste as much as you can to judge, to stimulate your senses.’

Marjo’s personal favourites are objects. ‘Objects communicate with the spaces,’ she says. ‘But I am also intrigued by new techniques, such as 3D printing.’ She is also very fond of colour, especially in the darker, winter months. After the current ‘Fluent Identity’ show is over in November, the space is being given over to Marianne Naeerbout. Her bright paintings and sculptures, says Marjo, are the ‘perfect distraction in the grey season ahead.’

All the art on show is for sale, and both WTC tenants and their visitors have been known to snap up a piece or two. ‘Recently someone visiting the WTC’s dental practitioner was extremely taken with a piece and decided that if he still liked it after his session he would buy it,’ she says. ‘And he did.’

It is the diversity of the exhibitions which surprise and make you think, says Marjo. ‘It is those unexpected encounters that make you decide to buy something, just like when you are on holiday.’

For more encounters with the unexpected, Marjo recommends Het Hem, located in a former industrial complex in Zaandam. ‘I like seeing art in locations which are rough round the edges,’ she says. ‘But Museum Night and the Open Atelier Routes  are a must for any art lover as well.’

Still on Marjo’s wish list for WTC Amsterdam is a series of ‘art talks’, where you can meet and learn directly from the artists. ‘‘The more art you see, the more you develop your own taste,’ she points out. ‘I want to show people a great variety of work. The value of art does not lie in where it is presented, it is in what impact it has on you.’

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