Deutsches Historisches Museum - Verf�hrung Freiheit. Kunst in Europa seit 1945 - Blog


Tjebbe Beekman: No boundaries—in any way whatsoever!

"I wanted to create a painting that you could not enter. You need to stay on the surface."

Tjebbe Beekman has his studio in Berlin Hohenschönhausen. Anyone who immediately thinks of the Stasi (State Security Service) Prison Memorial there is right on. His studio is right next door. The industrial building, where many artists work, exudes a menacing charm. The previously-visited Memorial adds to this impression. The large-format photograph Stasi City by Jane and Louise Wilson from our exhibition also plays it part. 

The architecture is the common thread during our visit with Beekman. In The Desire for Freedom, we exhibit his painting Palast (2005) [Palace], which he painted on inspiration from a public housing block in Berlin-Schöneberg known as the Sozialpalast or Social Palace. The artwork is shown in Room 9, ‘Worlds for Living In’, and expresses a view critical of architecture that ‘limits access to public space and has long since lost track of the human dimension’. It seems consequential to now ask about architecture’s societal responsibility.

Entrance Studio building

Sozialpalast View from Potsdamer Straße
A.Savin - CC BY-SA 3.0
Tjebbe Beekman Palast (2005) in exhibition hall
Tjebbe Beekman, Palast (2005), Wassenaar// Collectie Caldic, Niederlande

‘There is a type of prefabricated architecture that you see everywhere. People don’t feel at home in these structures, they have no sense of connection with the building and the neighbourhood they live in.’ Asked if he has a connection to his studio and its building, he answers: ‘Yes, somehow. It is an odd building. It is an old Stasi (State Security) building and at the beginning I thought “I’m certainly not going to move in there, it’s too eerie”, but the studio atmosphere is actually nice and relaxed. I feel good in this building—in a strange way.’

  • Inside Tjebbe's studio
  • Inside Tjebbe's studio
  • Inside Tjebbe's studio

During the interview, he tells us how he discovered the Sozialpalast. And how he came to Berlin from Amsterdam and didn’t want to work with ‘boundaries’ at all, but then discovered this building as an expression of real social boundaries. And he speaks about why you have to destroy paintings in order to get them back.



What we didn’t ask:

Which building does he feel the most connection to?

Where is the painting in the exhibition:

Room 9, ‘Worlds for Living In’

What else was said:

That freedom of speech also means listening.

When does he feel the most free:



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