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The studio of JCJ VANDERHEYDEN is located on the first floor of a listed building in the centre of Den Bosch. It has windows on the west, but the wonderful evening light is actually not suitable for a painter, says JCJ. He moved into the studio fifty years ago and into the dwelling below several years later, where he set up a family with his wife Hans. The three children have long left home, but JCJ and Hans still live and work there.
Jacobus Cornelis Johannes Van der Heyden was born on 23 June 1928 in Den Bosch. From the start, he presented himself as a researcher of the image, the perception and the relationship between these two. With his work, he tackles matters that are otherwise reserved for science or philosophy. He poses questions such as: how does an image arise? What turns an image into a whole? How does the image relate to its mirror-image and to other forms of reproduction? JCJ VANDERHEYDEN, as he now writes his name, makes use of various media in his research: he paints, photographs, uses traditional reproduction techniques and makes pictures with a video camera. Exhibitions of his work are also moments of research, for example into the interaction between various works from his oeuvre and into the position of the viewer in the exhibition as a whole. For him, man is almost nothing - compared to the world, the universe and the cosmos - and at the same time a god in his possibilities to perceive, shape and recreate images.
When JCJ Vanderheyden studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten [State Academy for Visual Arts], it was a bastion of conservatism, housed in posh building on the Stadhouderskade in Amsterdam. The art students, however, rebelled against the old-fashioned character of the education and in the ‘eighties of the previous century, the State Academy was transformed, with studios for Dutch and foreign artists and various technical workplaces. In 1992, the academy moved to the Kavallerie Kazerne on Saphatistraat in Amsterdam, which had been renovated by Koen van Velsen. JCJ Vanderheyden returned as supervisor of young artists and preached “Eigen Wijsheid” [your own wisdom, your own stubbornness].
The work of JCJ Vanderheyden has been regularly shown since 1957, both at group exhibitions of art from Brabant (for example in the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, the Kruithuis in Den Bosch and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris) and at solo exhibitions in galleries in Amsterdam. In 1966, he had a solo exhibition in the Municipal Museum in The Hague.
JCJ Vanderheyden refers here to the book Wij zijn ons brein [We are our brain] by the Dutch neurobiologist Dick Swaab. Thanks partly to his appearance in the VPRO programme Zomergasten [Summer guests] on 31 July 2011, the mental legacy of Swaab has become known and popular to a broad public.
JCJ and science
Although in this interview JCJ Vanderheyden characterises art and science as opposites, he has always had considerable interest in new scientific developments and insights. At the end of the ‘sixties’, he spent some time studying at the Institute of Sonology at the State University of Utrecht. He is conducting a dialogue with Vincent Icke about astronomy and cosmology, sometimes in words and sometimes in his work. Icke is a scientist and visual artist.
- Big Bang 04:14
Hunters in the Snow (December-January) was painted in 1565 by Pieter Bruegel. It is a large panel (117 x 160 cm) and hangs in the Art Historical Museum in Vienna. It is one of a series of six large landscapes, each of which depicts two months of the year. The panel for the months April-May has been lost. The others are: The Cloudy Day (February-March), Hay Harvest (June-July), The Harvest (August-September), The Return of the Herd (October-November). Bruegel’s famous work The Tower of Babel hangs in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Exhibition and book
This video portrait was made on the occasion of the exhibition JCJ VANDERHEYDEN ‘In-sight’, which was held in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen from 24 September 2011 to 29 January 2012. The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph entitled JCJ Vanderheyden - Licht, tijd en ruimte, written by Hans Locher, former director of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. This book offers a complete overview of five decades of paintings, prints, photographic works, books and exhibitions installed by the artist. The text and images are interwoven to create a unity. Published by Uitgeverij De Kunst, €34.95 ISBN 9789491196102.
Jacques van der Heyden was already an artist before he became one. To him, an artist was like a scholar, but without intellectual boundaries. From the start, he presented himself as a researcher of the image, the perception and the relationship between these two. With his work, he tackles matters that are otherwise reserved for science or philosophy. He poses questions such as: how does an image arise? What turns an image into a whole? How does the image relate to its mirror-image and to other forms of reproduction? He did not believe in the overview. He never dated his work, delighted in subverting time and believed that linear thinking limits people unnecessarily. He saw development as the endless repetition of the same thing, over and over again; his own reproduction of reality. In his view, the tiniest part of a painting counted for as much as the whole canvas. The whole is in the part. Mankind likewise meant almost nothing to him—in comparison with the world, the universe and the cosmos—yet at the same time this insignificant man, with his ability to observe, transform and recreate images, was a God.Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents a small show to commemorate the life and work of JCJ VANDERHEYDEN. JCJ VANDERHEYDEN created the Scale-model exhibition In-Sight in the spring of 2011 for his exhibition In-Sight, which was recently held at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (24 September 2011 - 29 January 2012). The scale-model shows that the exhibition was no overview, but rather an insight and an interaction between works from various periods in VANDERHEYDEN's comprehensive oeuvre.
Direction: Els Hoek Camera: Suzan van Steenwijk Editing: Caroline Hoeberechts Music & mix: Michel van Schie