Turkish coffee house Hoefkade The Hague

Turkish coffee house Hoefkade The Hague

Turkish coffee house Hoefkade The Hague

They seem lost in thought, these two men in a Turkish coffee house on the Hoefkade. What would they think about? Few visual artists in the 1970s captured the lives of Turkish and Moroccan labor migrants, the 'guest workers'. The Hague artist Peter Blokhuis (1938) is an exception. In 1976 he made a series of paintings and drawings of migrant workers from The Hague and Rotterdam entitled 'Guest workers'. Blokhuis portrayed them in their own living environment: in shabby boarding houses, on the street in the Schilderswijk or in other working-class neighbourhoods, or as here in a coffee house on the Hoefkade. With this series, Blokhuis wanted to show the 'hopelessness and the exceptional position of the guest worker in the Netherlands', as he stated in an interview: 'Here they are isolated and seen as inferior, at home they are treated with respect. Because they are rich by their standards.' The isolated position of guest workers is emphasized in this drawing by the contrast between the men themselves - who are quite elaborate - and their surroundings, which are only suggested with pencil lines, which produces an alienating effect.

Gift from the Jan Roeterink collection, 2020.

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The series 'Guest workers' is also about the contrast between the lives of guest workers in the Netherlands and the lives of their families in the country of origin. Blokhuis traveled to Morocco and Turkey, visited the villages where his subjects came from and made portraits of the relatives of these men. These portraits are very different in tone: more cheerful and colorful. Blokhuis remarked: “No one realizes that these people have made a long journey and have left behind their family, which is extremely important to them.” As far as we know, there are no relatives in Turkey of the two men depicted in our drawing. portrayed. Unfortunately, we do not (yet) know who the men portrayed are.

Gastarbeiders in een koffiehuis.jpg
Peter Blokhuis, Turkish coffee house Hoefkade The Hague, ca. 1976


  • Manufacturer: Peter Blokhuis
  • Date: 1976
  • Object number: 2020-0001-TEK
  • Materials: pencil, gouache
  • Dimensions: 46.0 x 64.4 cm

Literature (Dutch)

  • Hella Liefting, ‘Kunstenaar geboeid door gastarbeiders’, de Volkskrant, 16 december 1976
  • Peter Blokhuis, Peter Blokhuis. Gastarbeiders, publicatie bij de gelijknamige tentoonstelling in het Stedelijk Museum het Catharina Gasthuis (Gouda 1977)
  • John Sillevis, Peter Blokhuis: recente schilderijen en tekeningen, publicatie bij gelijknamige tentoonstelling in Pulchri Studio (Den Haag 1986)