Zelfportret – Zwakzinnigennazorg

Van Genk, Willem

Fifteen pieces of hardboard with fragments of text and image are assembled to create the whole; symmetric in construction with narrow strips above and below, wider strips left and right. In the centre we find Van Genk’s pontifical self-portrait, neatly dressed in a suit. The man stares ahead with a sullen expression. Beneath him is the text ‘mentally-handicapped aftercare’. Alongside is an image of a small painting, ‘Still life’, by P.A. Persoon, brother-in-law, married to Willem’s sister Addy. At the top of the portrait hangs a banner with the text ‘Union NL-USSR’. In two semicircles of paper pasted into the image, Van Genk wrote titles of books and exhibitions. Behind Van Genk stands a man near a coffee machine, smoking a cigarette. A second theme is the demolition and reconstruction of The Hague, his city. His comments express scepticism about this: ‘From urban regeneration to urban destruction The Hague today’, or ‘the restoration monster courtyard’.

Van Genk, Willem; Zelfportret Zwakzinnigennazorg, 1978, detail Van Genk, Willem; Zelfportret Zwakzinnigennazorg, 1978, detail