Kees van Leeuwen / Visual Artist



Born, 24-09-1986, Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands.
Currently working and living in Haarlem, The Netherlands

My artistic practice engages human interactions with institutional architectural spaces. My extensive research on nuclear bunkers is an important departure point for my current work. For a long time, I have had a deep interest in the Netherlands atomic bunkers as ‘material 'objects: I have spent the past year researching the bunkers of the Dutch National Telecommunications Company, which are spread across the Netherlands and continue to function, in varying degrees of secrecy and service, as communication hubs. These types of structures have always fascinated me, as they challenge everyday perceptions of space. This fascination - the ways in which one experiences an object in space both physically and cognitively - Is reflected in my artistic practice. 

In one of my earliest works that engaged with bunkers. I built a wall inside a well-proportioned room. In a building designed by Gerrit Rietveld, placing it so that the play of light and dark affected the experience of entering the space. Behind the wall was an object that related to the shape and dimensions of the transformed space. A personal narrative emerged, a depiction of what I feel when I'm inside a bunker; the system of doors and gates that close behind you as you enter heighten the expectation of what you will find once Inside.

The experience of a museum space Is similar, in that there is a certain expectation of what might be seen around each corner and through each door. In a further installation, I set out to resettle the white cube, this entirely white space through the installation of black mirrors, which formed a kind of internal black cube. For me the concept of the white space is like a concept of a bunker, the white space is a bunker. The white space creates the Illusion that time Is standing still and the sculptural object in the space determines the speed of time. But the bunker itself has a very slow rate of time —the decay of a bunker takes longer than the lifetime of many artworks, so It is the true space where time is standing still. But everyone recognizes the bunker as a dark empty space, something to be scared of. I try to connect the bunker with the white space of the gallery, to show that in this respect, both places work the same way. The only difference is expectation.

Kees van Leeuwen




Master 'Artistic Research' (with distinction) / MFA Master Fine Arts
Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague


Bachelor of Fine Arts
Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam




‘In Praise of Space’, Cave - Ayumi Gallery

'Prospects & Concepts’, Art Rotterdam


Gemeentehuis The Hague, exhibition on the occasion of the book release
‘Schuilen in Den Haag. Erfgoed van de Koude Oorlog’ 


PULSE 10, Stichting O.M.S.T.A.N.D. Arnhem. (solo in Museum 5VEP) 


Platform Platform, Bart invites, Amsterdam. (group) 




The atomic bunker, Genie Museum, Vught. (solo) 

NO TITLE, Grote of st.Bavokerk, Haarlem (group)

hoe=het nu, ACEC, Apeldoorn (group)


Easy Sunday: Artist talk and exhibition, Maarten Lutherkerk, Amsterdam (group)

Map Play Narrate, Graduation Show MAR, Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague (group)

De Woeste Gronden #7, G.A.N.G., Arnhem (solo, within a festival) 


Kunstvlaai Art Festival, Oude st. Nicolaas Lyceum, Amsterdam (group)

Spotlight: The Belgian Job, Stroom Art Centre, The Hague (group) 


Sur la table, sous la table, Royal Gallery of the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (group)

Magicgruppe Kulturobject, W139, Amsterdam (group) A-pass, Brussels (group)

Hell and High Water, Zeemanshuis, Amsterdam (group)
The Show, Graduation show, Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam (group) 


‚OK’, at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (group) Push, RC de Ruimte, Amsterdam (duo)

Diamantbeurs, Amsterdam (group) RC de Ruimte, IJmuiden (group) 


Publications / Lectures


Nomination ‘Monumentenprijs Jong Talent 2018’,
Young Talent award of the ‘Rijks Monumenten Dienst’ and the Mondriaan Fonds

Guided tours through the government bunker ‘Noodzetel, Den Haag’,
during ‘Bunkerdag’ and opening ‘Open Monumentendag’

Lecture Dutch Embassy Tokyo, about my work and the Cold War

Mondriaan Fonds, contribution for artist in residency, Japan


Publication ‘Schuilen in Den Haag, Erfgoed van de Koude Oorlog’
(Hiding in The Hague, Heritage of the Cold War)

Lectures, Various - ‘Archive Den Haag - Haags Gemeente archief,
Van Stockum Boekverkopers

Excursions along the visual objects of the Cold War in The Hague,
in cooperation with the organisation of the ‘Bunkerdag’ 

Mondriaan Fonds, contribution - ‘Young Talent’

Excursions along the visual objects of the Cold War in The Hague,
in cooperation with the organisation of the ‘Bunkerdag’


Excursions along the visual objects of the Cold War in The Hague,
in cooperation with the organisation of the ‘Bunkerdag’

De Nieuwe, january 2016, Kunstmagazine from Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam.


Lecture for ‚See, but not seen’, A workshop on bunkers conversion, Gotland (S).
Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam.

‚Platform Platform’ magazine, The First Issue, -QUARTERLY/SUMMER

Lecture and interview Frascati Theater, Amsterdam.
Invited by Joachim Robbrecht, project: "The Great War Machine".


Lecture‚The Blueprint as a Universal Language’.
Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. 


Publication: ‚The Atombunker and the white cube’.
Kees van Leeuwen.




Artist in Residence, Tokyo Japan


Art-ProjectLeftovers from the Cold War’, a tour through The Hague along the visual signs
from the Cold War period, in collaboration with ‘Bunkerdag’


Lunette Kazerne, Genie Museum, Februari-Maart, Vught 


Secret Bunker, G.A.N.G, September - October, Arnhem