Every year, the Rotterdam City Archive and CBK Rotterdam go in search of artists who are able to observe the city and transform their reflections into drawings: the city artists. This year Xaviera Altena, Johan Kleinjan, and Nuno Orlando have been given the task to portray the tensions between the city’s urbanised and natural habitats. From Saturday 14 October, Kunsthal Rotterdam will be showing the end results in the exhibition Drawn: Rotterdam! Urban Jungle.
The continuous developments in the fields of industry, infrastructure, and housing in Rotterdam often have a negative impact on the city’s nature. The construction of the A16 motorway through the natural habitat Lage Bergse Bos, and the new residential buildings on the edges of the green Kralingse Bos area are but a few examples of this. At the same time the question of whether Rotterdam The Hague Airport should or should not make way for a park, shows the urgency to tackle problems like climate change and the human impact on the nitrogen cycle. For Drawn: Rotterdam! Urban Jungle the city artists have captured locations, people, and initiatives that either highlight the major contrasts between city and nature, or instead attempt to close the gap between the two.
The city artists: Xaviera Altena, Johan Kleinjan and Nuno Orlando
Even before the bombing of 14 May 1940, but especially during the post-war reconstruction period, city artists have been capturing changes in Rotterdam. Until the end of the 1980s, the Rotterdam City Archive annually commissioned artists to do so. Since 2018 this tradition was reinstated in collaboration with CBK Rotterdam, after which city artists would once again contribute works to the Rotterdam City Archive’s collection. This year the selecting jury consisted of the artist Hedy Tjin, Ove Lucas (CBK Rotterdam), Jantje Steenhuis and Wanda Waanders (Rotterdam City Archive), and David Snels (Kunsthal curator). After the exhibition, the city artists’ drawings will be included in the City Archive’s collection and become part of the Rotterdam Collection.