East West Foundation

A short overview

This text gives a concise overview of the East West Foundation. It tells about board and advisers, subsidizers, former projects, aims, origin, method of working, plans and aes-thetic viewpoints. The EWF was founded in 1996 in the old Dutch university city Leiden.

Former subsidizers and sponsors:

Anjerfonds Zuid-Holland; Dienst Cultuur en Educatie gemeente Leiden; Ministerie van Cultuur Iran; Ned. Commissie voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling; Ned. Ambassade Damascus; Prins Claus Fonds; Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Zuid-Holland; Stichting Doen; VSB Fonds; VSB Fonds Den Haag en O., Ned. Ambassade in Vietnam.

Former EWF-exhibition projects

Apart from some smaller shows the projects concerned:
-1997 ‘Free scope on Chinese tradition’, retrospective in 3 locations in Leiden and 1 in Antwerp of the Malayan-Chinese painter Chung Chen Sun
- 2001 ‘A new look at Iran’, a selection of some 90 works of 18 Iranian artists in The Pieterskerk and in Galerie Amber Leiden and in Pulchri Studio in The Hague.
- 2002 ‘Dena’ about 80 works of 12 Iranian female painters in Galerie Amber and Caro Art Gallery, Leiden, and in the Haagse Kunstkring in The Hague
- 2002/2003, ‘Syria Now’, about 80 works of 8 Syrian artists in Art gallery Caro and Galerie Amber, Leiden, and the Publiekscentrum Beeldende Kunst in Enschede
- 2003/2004, ‘Vietnam Today’, about 100 works of 10 Vietnamese artists in Art Gallery Caro and Galerie Amber in Leiden.

Galerie Amber, EWF office and secretariat

Galerie Amber, founded in 1988, exhibited from the beginning works of modern Asian artists: Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Malaysia. Often the preparation of Amber shows required disproportionate expenses, efforts and working time. In 1994 Amber organized in the ‘Old Church’ in Amsterdam an exhibition which with a quotation of Kipling was called ‘Meeting of the Twain’ [East and West]. In addition of 50 old kakemono the gallery showed more than two hundred works of contemporary artists from East and West.

In order to prevent such risky adventures as well as to facilitate activities which exceed the scale of an average gallery the EWF formed itself around Amber as an independent non profit body, an intermediary organization between artists from Asia and exhibition places in or near to The Netherlands. Galerie Amber is functioning as the EWF executive body. The statute of the foundation, however, guarantees that in financial decisions a majority is needed of the members, who don’t have a connection with Galerie Amber.

About EWF exhibition projects

If the EWF finds subsidizers and sponsors the money is used for orientation and selection visits abroad, for insured transport of artists and their works, for publicity, and for special printing matters. It also looks on a correct approach and treatment of artists who from far away have an insufficient idea of what could happen with their creations. Usually an EWF-project contains works of more than one artist and is shown on more than one location. These galleries and other exhibition places pay for their own regular expenses: printed invitations, press reports, reception, insurance and supervision.

In all the EWF projects a hard condition is that the selection of works and artists can take place in complete independence. In order to accentuate resemblances in the family of men, from politically contested countries the EWF doesn’t shun showing the other side.

Although foreign artists if possible are offered visits to museums, academies, galleries and modern Dutch artists, until now the aspect of exchange, bringing art and artists from West to East didn’t receive much time and attention. A current plan, however, is to compose an overview of modern Dutch paintings inspired by the landscape and to organize a museum and/or sales exhibition project that can travel through the Middle and the Far East.


+ Since a long period the EWF board is planning and preparing a project with paintings from Vietnam. Especially the youngest generation will receive attention, although works of already internationally successful artists will be given a place.
+ With regard to the Middle East the EWF is preparing with the help of its adviser Ali Talib a project of Iraqi painting.
+ Another project will concern a selection of paintings made by Palestinian as well as Israelian artists.

Esthetical considerations

In origin the preference of the EWF- board went out to rather meditative, contemplative art from the Far East. Surrealism, heavy expressionism, pop art and the exposure of the ego didn’t fit in this conception. More and more, however, the Foundation wants to show the diversity and the artistic qualities of Fine Art in a country or a region, whatever this might imply.

Although in the last two decades all over the world Fine Art as an unwilled result of globalization became more and more similar, the EWF likes to recognize, to be remembered of the smell, the taste, the sounds of a region, to find in a work of art traces of an artist’s roots. What not faded in our perception was the inclination to avoid art that’s only ‘global’, made by a ‘nowhere man’ from a ‘no man’s land’. On the contrary, far from a denial of origins, a meeting of East and West is interesting, if it is an integra-tion in which distinctive qualities can be preserved. It may be clear that the EWF wants to stay away far from cheap decorative images and commercial misuse of folklore. We like it, however, to deduce from a work of art notions about its origin, its cultural background.

In another context we would like to give also some statements about the art market, that’s still dominated by the West; at first by Europe and in these days more and more by America.

Let’s finish revealing an old characteristic of East, West and Middle East. It will not explain everything but it can offer a general, often useful handle. In spite of all globali-zation the spectator has still a kind of treble tool: line, shade and a combination of both. The origin of Chinese and Japanese painting lies in its adored meeting of poetry and painting in lines: Calligraphy. From this linear ‘point’ of departure the Far Eastern painter starts. [The word for painting is in Indonesia ‘seni lukis’: the fineness of the line] In the West architecture with its shades is called the ‘mother of the arts’. In the European tradition – middle-ages, renaissance, baroque, romanticism, realism and again in modern art the shade dominates.

In between West and Far East is the Persian and Arabian Middle east. With as a quite own dimension we find here the deep and intensive colors, but beside an own rich tradition of calligraphy we find here also a strong architecture: line and shade together.

Leiden, June 2003