An Inspiring Five Days in Rotterdam
Boris and I have been away from home for a whole month as of today. We’ve mostly been spending our days in Berlin, but we did a five day trip to Rotterdam the other week. I really enjoyed our time there and was relieved by the cooler weather while in The Netherlands.
The side trip to Rotterdam was motivated by my wish to see the Paper Biennale at Museum Rijswijk, which is a small city outside of The Hague, a short trip away from Rotterdam. It is so much cheaper to travel between European countries than it is the major cities within Canada, so off we went.
I really loved Rotterdam. It has terrific art galleries with amazing art, great shopping, eye-catching street art, striking architecture, an excellent transit system, and a huge array of bird life. I saw Egyptian geese, heron, jackdaw, coot, rose-ringed parakeet, magpie, and others I don’t know the name of.
I did not go to many galleries but enjoyed visits to Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and the Kunsthal had an incredible exhibition of hyper-real figurative sculpture. Everywhere we went there was unique architectural wonders to gawp at, but two of my favourites were the Markthal and Casas Cubicas. I also spent a lot of time tracking down pieces of street art, and made use of an app put together by Rewriters, a local arts organization platform.
We did our day trip to The Hague and Rijswijk by getting on a train at the same Metro station we’d been using to get around and took it all the way to the next city. That blew our minds. It was nice to see the suburbs and countryside between to the two places along the way.
Museum Rijswijk was our first stop of the day and we arrived right when it opened and had the place mostly to ourselves. I was SUPER excited to get to see this show in person. It was almost surreal to find myself there. The exhibition features work by eighteen artists, most of them based in Europe, and was an interesting survey of 2D pieces, 3D sculpture, and installations all made from paper. There was some really incredible work on display, and in such an interesting setting. I loved it, and felt so happy and inspired by the show. One important thing I realized is that my work is on par with the work on display, and my aim is to participate in the next Paper Biennale.
After the show we took a tram back to The Hague because everything other than the Museum in Rijswijk was closed. We went browsing through an antiques market in a square, then enjoyed lunch in an Italian restaurant called Fratelli Den Haag.
The one other place I was hoping to visit while we were in the area, Escher in Het Paleis, happened to be located in the same square as the market and restaurant. It is a former palace of the Dutch royalty hosting the permanent collection of works by M.C. Escher. This was an eye-opening experience because it made me realize I knew next to nothing about Escher. His work is referenced extensively in pop culture so it seems familiar, but looking through his large body of work demonstrated many things I wasn’t aware of. He was highly skilled both as a draftsman and as a printmaker, and it was an excellent reminder of how brilliant he was at creating optical illusions and patterns. My inspiration-o-meter went up to 100% after this museum visit, which was completely unexpected.
I am grateful to Boris for choosing to take us to Rotterdam because it was a special trip full of amazing things. I would definitely go back there again some day.