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The Art of Maurice Heerdink

by Julien Beyle in Theatre, Art & Expo , 09 april 2015

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 4 minutes

Someone once asked a very young Maurice Heerdink what he wanted to be when he grew up. “A millionaire or an artist,” was the answer. “Why didn’t I become a millionaire?,” the now nearly sixty-year-old sighs in the recently published book “The Art of Maurice Heerdink.” It becomes clear from the publication of this retrospective that one of the futures Heerdink saw for himself in his youth did come true.

Forty years ago, one of Heerdink’s drawings was published for the first time, and got a very favorable newspaper review. Since then, his work has, of course, evolved and was refined.

In his childhood years, Maurice had a subscription to the boy’s magazine “Tintin.” He believes that this magazine has had an important influence on his development as an artist. He unconsciously learned a lot from the adventure comics of skilled artists such as Jacques Martin, Edgar P. Jacobs and Jean Torton. Because of reports in “Tintin,” he also became fascinated by the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen.

But Tintin was not his only form of recreation. At about eight, he also became fascinated by the glamorous promotional material for the movie “Cleopatra” with Elizabeth Taylor. Also, an uncle told him about his stay with the Dayaks on Borneo and taught him a lot about the life and culture of the Native American people, which made a deep impression. Later, this was artistically expressed in a series on the iconography of the Maya culture, which he drew after traveling North and Central America in the 1980s.

In 1981, Heerdink graduated at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. When he started his education in the mid-1970s, art education was in serious trouble, according to Heerdink. Because of the rise of abstract art, much of the traditional knowledge was considered obsolete. Anatomy was no longer important, and knowledge of materials was no longer taught.

Teachers were mostly teaching subjects they did not understand, Heerdink notes. He confesses that he would have loved to have been introduced during his studies to the Renaissance artist Caravaggio (1571-1610), an artist he only became acquainted with through the 1986 film by Derek Jarman. For years, film was Heerdink’s main source of inspiration.

During his training, Heerdink became fascinated by the drama of light. Influenced by Film Noir, he placed his models in a spot light to create an image that was as intense as possible. When he learned about the work of Caravaggio, he discovered the enormous influence of the use of light in these paintings on Western culture. This influence was reflected in the works of cinematographers such as Pasolini, Fellini and Jarman. Heerdink came to the conclusion that he was a modern Caravaggist. But not only because of the light... One of Caravaggio’s biographers once noted that “in his entire career [Caravaggio] did not paint a single female nude,” while another art connoisseur stated that some of Caravaggio’s works are replete with “full-lipped, languorous boys... who seem to solicit the onlooker with their offers of fruit, wine, flowers - and themselves.”

Even though Heerdink’s work has various other aspects, he is - as he acknowledges himself - mostly known for depictions of the male body, which is something he has done throughout his career. In the works that revolve around the male body, light is also key. With floodlight, he searches for the ultimate image of muscles in relief. Once, a neighbor asked him to exhibit some of his male nudes at a gay manifestation. Heerdink was overwhelmed by the attention he got because of this work that he then decided to focus on the development of this aspect of his work. In “The Art of Maurice Heerdink” he writes that he disliked the “cheap vulgarity” of Gay Art.

Although he does not clarify what he means by this, he does state that initially he was concentrating on making what he calls “tender art,” which he defines as Playful Eroticism. After the discovery of painters such as Caravaggio and of Greek mythology as an unlimited source of inspiration, his paintings became more dramatic and darker. In 2006 he exhibited his paintings on Greek mythology and the Bible for the first time. “The tragedies of Prometheus, Icarus and the holy Sebastian are timeless and wonderful to portray,” he stated at the time.

One of Heerdink’s homoerotic works, “The Boy Next To The Window,” was so popular that it got the artist an invitation to a radio interview if he would bring the model. This popularity was a reason for Heerdink not to sell the work, but to bring a limited art print of it on the market. This was just before the Gay Games were held in Amsterdam in 1998. During this exciting event Heerdink was lucky enough to be able to exhibit his work in the center of Amsterdam. This made his work know with gays from all over the world. Because around that time Internet became a general thing and a friend made a website for him, he could now send “The Boy Next To The Window” to all the corners of the world.

Heerdink is very excited about the dissemination and appreciation that his work has received worldwide through the limitless gallery that is the Internet. He realizes, however, that the finer details, which he considers extremely important for his work, cannot be enjoyed to the fullest on the website. That is why he decided to make a selection of his work available via the high-quality book publication “The Art of Maurice Heerdink.”

“The Art of Maurice Heerdink” has 128 pages with circa 100 full-color illustrations.
The book is 49.00 Euros and can be ordered on




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