Art historian and journalist. Willems was a conservator at the Stedelijke Musea Gouda for many years and has been director of the Dordrecht Visual Arts Centre for the past few years. Together with Maarten de Kroon, he developed the idea for Dutch Light, researched the project and co-wrote the script. Willems commutes from his home in the green heart of the urban sprawl to his office in Dordrecht, a journey that takes him from one kind of Dutch light into another. He confirms Mirbeau’s remark that the real Holland begins around Dordrecht, about ten kilometres north of Breda, but, he adds, we mustn’t forget Zeeland.
Willems has mounted exhibitions in The Hague, Dordrecht and Woerden, and for the Stedelijke Musea Gouda. He has written about the painters who were drawn to Dordrecht by the light, about the work of Jan Andriesse, the painters of the ‘green heart of Holland’ (Grass and Clouds) – Pieter-Laurens Mol, Alicia Framis, Klaus Baumgartner – and other contemporary artists. In 1996 Willems was commissioned by the visual arts centre Stroom HCBK to write a book on James Turrell for the opening of Turrell’s Celestial Vault in the dunes of Kijkduin.
Willems also organised a symposium on Turrell’s work and Dutch light, with Vincent Icke and Günther Können among the speakers.
Gerrit Willems has been a member of several advisory boards on art, including those of the visual arts centres of Dordrecht, Delft, The Hague, and the province of South Holland, and the art lending library in The Hague. He has recently been working on a project for the Dordrecht visual arts centre, analysing the relationship between culture and new residential developments.