On my arrival in Holland for Rotterdam Art Week I was naively expecting quaint, higgly-piggly streets with thin houses lining lovely canals (I’d only seen images of Amsterdam, apparently). But of course – Rotterdam isn’t like that at all.

Flattened by bombs in the second world war, the city was rebuilt by architects experimenting with styles that never manage to fully complement each other, but that create a playful discord making for a unique and exhilarating stroll around the centre. Nestled amongst the fun of the buildings is Rotterdam Art Week – the annual citywide celebration of visual culture, running 1oth-14th of February, which hosts two contemporary art fairs; Rotterdam Contemporary and Art Rotterdam.

The very smartly produced Art Rotterdam hosted renowned galleries such as Ron Mandos, GRIMM, Juliette Jongma, Barbara Seiler, and Kromus + Zink in the old, industrial Van Nellefabriek building, slightly outside of the center of the city. Elephant’s favourite artist discoveries were the winningly surreal portraits of Cornelius Quabeck at Martin van Zomeren and the smashed-up, acid-burned MacBooks of Mikkel Carl at Copenhagen’s Last Resort. Lievan Segers also impressed with a solo booth exploring humour in art (the subject of his recent PhD thesis) at Base-Alpha Gallery.

The fifth edition of Rotterdam Contemporary was hosted in the city’s well-lit, Art Deco themed Cruise Terminal which boasts views over the river and its famous Erasmus bridge. The fair hosted 73 mainly younger galleries, the most striking of which was RARE birds, a pop-up Amsterdam-based photography gallery with a strong rosta of artists who also work in the commercial photography world.

Cornelius Quebec ‘Unsex Me #1’ (2016) Courtesy Martin van Zomeren
Lieven Segers ‘The Joke Is On Me #4’ (2015) Courtesy of Base-Alpha Gallery
Mikkel Carl, ‘CALCULATED OPTIMISM (f)’ (2015) Courtesy Last resort and Mikkel Carl
Lieven Segers at Base-Alpha Gallery booth, Art Rotterdam
Pieter Lemmens ‘Pink Nation’ (2015) Courtesy of WTC The Hague Art Gallery
Isolde Woudstra ‘Fall’ (2015) Courtesy RARE Birds
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