Jump to excerpt...
The Rotterdam Eye Hospital
The Rotterdam Eye Hospital was founded in 1874 by J.H. de Haas, a driven ophthalmologist who would sometimes treat as many as a hundred patients per day all by himself. The hospital moved to various buildings, until in 1940 a new building was finally built on the Schiedamse Vest. It was designed by A. van der Steur, the architect who, five years earlier, had completed Museum Boijmans. The new building was opened in 1948 and in 1956 an extension was added. In 2005, the building was completely renovated and particular attention was paid to the interior and an art collection. Both came about in collaboration with Marijke van der Wijst (Bureau Van der Wijst Interior Architects BNO BNI) and Ineke van Ginneke (art historian).
Kees Sol (1953) is responsible for all the financial, building, staffing and general services aspects of the Eye Hospital. He is member of the Board of Directors and, together with his colleague Frans Hiddema, developed the strategic position of the hospital. For this, he paid attention to innovation in business operations; the relationship between quality and costs, benchmarking, network development, cost price development, patient streams, logistical concepts, safety. He works using the (international) best practices and collaborates with various scientific institutes (including Erasmus MC, University of Leuven, AMC). Before this, Kees Sol worked for various teaching hospitals and an organisational consultancy agency.
Gustave Van de Woestijne
Gustave Van de Woestijne (1881-1947) was a Belgian painter, who grew up under the wings of his elder brother, the well known poet and writer Karel Van de Woestijne, who was four years his senior. Via Karel he ended up in the tiny village of Sint Martens-Latem on the Leie, where he became the youngest member of the ‘First Latem Group’. The group included not only his brother but also the sculptor George Minne and the painter Valerius de Saedeleer. Gustave had aspirations to become an artist, attended the academy in Ghent, but only really became committed to art after seeing the exhibition of the Flemish Primitives in the Provinciehuis of Bruges in 1902, where, for example, ‘The three Mary’s at the Tomb’ (ARTtube video), now in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, was exhibited for the first time.
Gustave wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jan and Hubert Van Eyck. But once he arrived in Latem, he was tempted from the path of painting. The whole village was permeated with religion and religious awareness, so that between 1903 and 1906 he hardly touched a brush. Instead, he ‘searched for himself’ and helped the sick and needy.Twice he tried to enter the monastery; his first attempt lasted three days, his second three weeks. And then it became clear that painting was his true calling.
The Blind Man
Gustave Van de Woestijne mainly painted people, almost never landscapes. Although there are a lot of portraits, the people are always generalised into a certain type, according to what he, as painter, saw in the person in question. He is best known for the heads of the farmers and workers of Latem. It is remarkable that he only painted these portraits after he had moved to Leuven in 1909. A constantly recurring theme in his work is: the blind. ‘L’Aveugle’, the blind man which can be seen in the presentation ‘The Collection Enriched’ and which is from the Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, was painted in 1910; he used as model the Latem farmer Deeske Cnudde. People think that Van de Woestijne painted him from memory, without first making a preliminary study. “Deeper insight is gained in an attitude of internalisation. That particularly applies to the blind, a key figure in the oeuvre of the artist. He cannot distinguish what is visible externally, but he penetrates deeper into a different world,” states the catalogue of the exhibition about Gustave Van de Woestijne in the Museum for Fine Arts in Ghent, 2010.
It is there...
‘It is there - always in the same place - in your eyes’ is a work by the Belgian artist Fred Eerdekens (1951) from 2005. Eerdekens’ work always deals with seeing and his materials are language and light. For this, he always works with the shadow that arises through the light. In this work, he plaits brass thread into apparently meaningless shapes, but when the light shines on them, their shadows become recognisable as words on the wall.
The fourth episode of Boijmans TV 2013 is called ‘I Spy with my Little Eye.’ And naturally everybody responds to this with: ‘So what do you see then?’ Mandy looks out from behind her desk on the enormous Easter egg by Jeff Koons and suddenly sees the Easter Hare - or is it a rabbit? Now she sees him - now she doesn’’t. She follows the animal and gets lost on the stairs of a building that looks like the museum, but isn’t. It turns out to be a place of sickness and suffering: the Rotterdam Eye Hospital.
Kees Sol, member of the board of the Eye Hospital, however, sees it differently. He explains to Arie - who, because of a broken lamp, initially doesn’t see who’s sitting in the ‘Hole of Cattelan’ - that there is so much art to be seen in the Eye Hospital in order to dispel the fear of the patients and to help the healing process.
While Mandy wanders through the Eye Hospital with ‘eyes wide shut’, the opticians who Bregje entertains move through the museum with their eyes closed, and finally stand in front of ‘The Blind Man’ by the Belgian painter Gustave Van de Woestijne. Bregje wants to get some insight from the specialists: what does the world actually look like for somebody who is blind? Does a blind person perhaps see other things? Things that a sighted person doesn’t see?
Boijmans TV is a collaboration of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, RTV Rijnmond and Ro Theater, developed with the support of VSBfonds and the Mediafonds. The series was produced by the Rotterdam-based production house Popov Film.
The Boijmans TV team:
Sander Burger (final editor)
Kuba Szutkowski (producer)
Dragan Bakema (creative producer)
Edgar Kapp (production leader)
Jetse Batelaan (director of guided tours)
Wilfried de Jong (concept and interviews)
Els Hoek (research and direction)
And many others.