23 VII 2017
I just received the sad news that Robert Loder has passed away. Ong Keng Sen phoned me from Singapore to warn me.
Robert was one of those people who seemed to be there for good. He would always be there. I must have known him for twenty years, having first met him through visiting Gasworks in London. He sent me his enormously detailed personal records of visits to China, Pakistan, Africa, the Caribbean where he made contacts and friends in innovative artistic circles. With Triangle Arts Trust he established at least 30 intercultural workshops all over the non-western world. This made him into a kind of one-man NGO or Prince Claus Fund.
It was only natural after 1996, when the PCF also started its worldwide venture of bringing artists, intellectuals, pioneers in culture together, that we would cross roads. He would be there at all Prince Claus Awards ceremonies. Always in the background but always present.
I think it was November 2015 that he gave me a book of which he was rightfully proud. It was called Making Art in Africa 1960-2010 with a foreword by Anthony Caro and an essay by Robert himself, who had known most of the sixty or so artists.
This year he came to see me at my home in Leiden. He called on me with his wife between visiting the Mauritshuis in The Hague and flying back from Amsterdam to his home in London. He pressed me to go and see the British Museum exhibition South Africa, the art of a nation and sent me the catalogue in advance.
I regret more than ever now that I could not make it. I planned to visit London early next year and then could have spent time with him.
The world of culture not only lost a prominent supporter, but an even rarer thing: a good and unselfish friend.