Maarten van der Heijden

May 1, 2012
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Maarten van der Heijden ,

Grotesques 1
C-print on aluminium and perspex
100×100 cm

Grotesques 3
C-print on aluminium and perspex
100×100 cm

Grotesques 4
framed C-print
34×34 cm (outside)


“I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe. I the Lord do all these things.”

-Isaiah 45:7

“Evil, according to Jewish tradition, is firmly rooted in the very essence of God.”

Symbols of the Kabbalah, Sanford L. Drob and Jason Aronson

I always knew that I was Jewish, but that fact had hardly any meaning for me. About Judaism and about the war we did not talk in our family. And in terms of faith, we were ‘nothing’. When I was 45 years, I came in – some late – midlife crisis: job gone, wife gone, everything into question. I needed support, love and hope. And then I thought: I can go to the Baghwan, but I’m Jewish, so why not explore what Judaism has to offer me? My search for my Jewish roots began with a course in Jewish Spirituality and ended, by the way of double-bass playing in a klezmer group and attending various Jewish rabbinical courses, with a second- generation support group on the impact of the Holocaust. Finally I made a trip to Auschwitz (and back!) with the Auschwitz Committee. I was speechless and I was beaten quite perplexed: the history of Judaism was both outrageously beautiful (the Jewish mystical and Talmudic traditions) and at the same time unimaginably terrible (the horror of the Holocaust). This was almost unbearable for my tiny shoulders. And I asked myself: what can I do with these vehement and contradictory feelings? My answer was: the only possibility is to express these feelings in VISUAL ART. The three works featured are about are about the problem and mystery of good and evil; the Theodice-problem. They are C-prints based on photographs the allied forces took at the liberation of the concentration camps in 1945.


Maarten van der Heijden (Amsterdam,1947) is a second-generation Jew who works as a autonomous visual artist in Amsterdam. He had previous careers in Baroque Music as a Violone / Double Bass player in orchestras with Ton Koopman, Gustav Leonhardt, Phillip Herreweghe, Frans Brüggen and others, and in science and clinical practice and as a Child Psychologist. In 1993 he wrote his doctoral dissertation: ‘Consistency of approach behavior – A  processdiagnostic study on eight aspects of mental arithmetics’ (edited by Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse, 1993).

After a midlife-crises he studied from 2005 on at Gerrit Rietveld Art Academy Amsterdam, where he graduated in 2010 with works that reflect his jewish second-generation identity. In his most recent artworks he uses the photographs the allied forces took at the liberation of the nazi concentration-camps in 1945. These photo’s are so extremely horrific that they virtually disappeared from the public domain .

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