destination Kunsthal…

At the end of last week we visited Rotterdam to catch the second last day of the ‘Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time’ exhibition at the Kunsthal. Rotterdam is not a city I had visited before (apart from a few blissful hours spent at the Ahoy in March 2008 listening to Robert Smith coax all manner of strange and sublime sounds out of his guitar… but that doesn’t really count as having visited the place) and I was struck by how different it seems to all the other Dutch cities I have visited.

Having suffered devastating damage as a result of severe bombing during World War II vast swathes of the city were redeveloped (and judging by the number of building sites we passed it’s an ongoing work-in-progress). There’s a gritty urban modernity about the place (particularly on a dark and misty day) but it’s not without a certain charm (of the gritty urban variety :). Street art – in the form of an apparently very active public sculpture programme, city sanctioned murals and, of course, the ever ubiquitous graffiti – abounds. On our rambling walk from Centraal Station to the Kunsthal and back again we barely scratched the surface and I’d loved to go back, on a sunny day, to see more (particularly this beautiful mural by Brazilian artist Dante Horoiwa).

mist softened architectural angles…

Rotterdam’s (sometimes crazy) line in public sculpture…

from top, left to right:
Screw Arch, 1982, Claes Oldenburg  |  Zwarte Kraai, 2007, Florentijn Hofman  |  Qwertz, 2000, Franz West  |  Another Time II, 2008 (?), Antony Gormley  |  Santa Claus, 2001, Paul McCarthy

Eye-poppingly, brain-meltingly colourful graffiti on building site hoardings…

And I particularly liked these beautifully patterned monochromatic offerings…

a handsome owl peering down from the back of a street sign

and Onio’s densely patterned mural made during the R.U.A festival
in Summer 2009