On September 30, an exhibition with works by Maurice Heerdink (*1955) opened in Museum Soest. Heerdink rarely shows his work. The last exhibition showcasing his paintings took place in Museum Hoorn on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. Now, ten years later, his work again can be seen, at Museum Soest this time.
During a visit by the artist living in Voorburg, the museum struck a conversation, and is pleased to present his work in all its facets.
A lot has happened since the last show. In 2014, the book “The Art Of Maurice Heerdink” appeared, and Heerdink started experimenting with other disciplines, such as music and film. Yet his first love remains painting in the classical style of the Dutch Masters, but with a contemporary touch. Moreover, Heerdink was inspired by Italian Renaissance artists such as Caravaggio in developing his very own and personal style. Man is key in Heerdink’s work. However, Museum Soest has a first with Heerdink’s first landscape: “Vlietland,” a homage to the place Heerdink got to know in a kayak.
In 1981, Heerdink graduated from 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 and workmanship was considered obsolete. Anatomy was no longer important, and knowledge of materials was no longer taught. Over the years, Heerdink successfully filled these gaps in his education.
In 2004 and 2005, he created a series of “Theater Portraits,” for which he requested the cooperation of leading stage artists, such as Ellen Vogel, Jenny Arean, Willem Nijholt, Johnny Kraaijkamp Sr. and Aus Greidanus Jr. He got their permission. Marne van Opstal, dancer of the Dutch Dance Theater NDT, was the most recent person portrayed in this series. This portrait is the link to the theme The Male Body with which Heerdink, especially via the Internet, gained international recognition.
It concerns a combination of relieved muscles and theatrical lighting, which gives a dramatic effect. But Heerdink’s international fame does not only come from his evocations of the male body. In 2011, he made the cover portrait for “Quentin Crisp: The Profession of Being,” Nigel Kelly’s biography of the eccentric Englishman who spend the twilight of his live in New York City.
During his training, Heerdink became fascinated by the drama of light mostly because of Film Noir. As his training was dominated by the abstract, he only became acquainted with the works of Caravaggio (1571-1610) through the film “Caravaggio” by Derek Jarman in 1986, and realized the enormous impact of the lighting in these paintings on Western culture. Heerdink came to the conclusion that he was a modern Caravaggist. However, not only Caravaggio’s famous light played a role in this, since as one authority noted, the Italian’s work is also dominated by “full-lipped, languorous boys... who seem to solicit the onlooker with their offers of fruit, wine, flowers - and themselves.”
When a neighbor asked Heerdink to exhibit some of his drawings of male nudes at a gay event, he was overwhelmed by the attention that followed. He then decided to fully explore this aspect of his work, but also spoke of his dislike of what he calls the “cheap vulgarity of Gay Art.” He wants to concentrate on “tender art,” or, as Heerdink calls it: Playful Erotica. This description was also used in the documentary “The Playful Erotica of Maurice Heerdink,” which was aired by MVS Gay TV Amsterdam in 1998. Since then, Heerdink has continued to develop, as can be seen at the exhibition up to January 8, 2017 at Museum Soest.
Museum Soest, Steenhoffstraat 46, 3764 BM Soest, www.museumsoest.nl
Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday, 13:30-17:00.