Druivenstraat

“Druivenstraat” is a collaborative series of artworks (2015) by Aschwin de Wolf (photography) and Avantika Bawa (composition). The photos were taken in the attic of the former home of the late Eva van Oosten, Aschwin’s grandmother, at Druivenstraat 1, Leiden in 2014.

Druivenstraat I - A

Druivenstraat I - B

Unintentional Beauty


“Franz said, ‘Beauty in the European sense has always had a premeditated quality to it. We’ve always had an aesthetic intention and a long-range plan. That’s what enabled Western man to spend decades building a Gothic cathedral or a Renaissance piazza. The beauty of New York rests on a completely different base. It’s unintentional. It arose independent of human design, like a stalagmitic cavern. Forms which are in themselves quite ugly turn up fortuitously, without design, in such incredible surroundings that they sparkle with a sudden wondrous poetry.’

   Sabina said, ‘Unintentional beauty. Yes. Another way of putting it might be “beauty by mistake.” Before beauty disappears entirely from the earth, it will go on existing for a while by mistake. “Beauty by mistake” – the final phase in the history of beauty.’

   And she recalled her first mature painting, which came into being because some red paint had dripped on it by mistake. Yes, her paintings were based on ‘beauty by mistake’, and New York was the secret but authentic homeland of her painting.

   Franz said, “Perhaps New York’s unintentional beauty is much richer and more varied than the excessively strict and composed beauty of human design. But it’s not our European beauty. It’s an alien world.’

   Didn’t they then at last agree on something?

   No. There is a difference. Sabina was very much attracted by the alien quality of New York’s beauty. Franz found it intriguing but frightening; it made him feel homesick for Europe.”

Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Vernacular Aesthetics

“To look through a Becher book is to take a lesson in vernacular aesthetics ; it is to learn to read differences in composition, rhythm and formal solutions where an ordinarily eye would see only indifference and standardisation; it is to derive intense pleasure from your own capacity of discrimination; it is to suffer from your inability to back it up by a technical vocabulary that would make it possible for you to detail a gasometer’s architecture as if it were a cathedral.”

Thierry de Duve, ‘Bernd et Hilla Becher ou la photographie monumentaire’ in Les Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, no. 39, pp. 118-29.

gasometer

Vila Nova de Gaia

Vila Nova de Gaia, across the River Douro from Porto, is famous for the production of Port wines. The traditional port lodges are still located in its center and most of them are open to visitors.  While touring the lodges you can see (and smell) the barrels where the Port is kept, learn more about the making of Port and  taste various different Port wines.

It is best to visit on a weekday and to stay away from the riverside where it is more busy and touristy. In the smaller streets away from the river you will find yourself going back in time and you will find Port lodges such as Offley, that  offer tours and tastings but in a much more quiet, friendly and intimate setting.