Signed: Rotterdam! Urban Jungle can be seen in Kunsthal from October 14

The city illustrators Xaviera Altena, Johan Kleinjan and Nuno Orlando have depicted the tension between city and nature. Just like every year, CBK Rotterdam and Rotterdam City Archives have chosen three artists to observe the city and depict their reflections in drawings. The exhibition 'Signed: Rotterdam! Urban Jungle' can be seen in the Kunsthal Rotterdam from October 14, 2023.

The A16 is being constructed through the low Bergse Bos, and houses are being built on the edge of the Kralingse Bos: the development of infrastructure, housing or industry is often at the expense of nature in the city. Yet more and more dissenting voices can be heard: wouldn't it be better to replace Rotterdam The Hague Airport with a park? In Signed: Rotterdam! Urban Jungle, the city illustrators depict places, people and initiatives that expose the contrast between city and nature, or try to close this gap.

Xaviera Altena  
As a city illustrator, dir Xaviera Altena (1991) focuses on four Rotterdam residents who are involved in green initiatives in the city, such as the Sheep Club at the DakPark and the NK Tegelwippen. Altena first conducts extensive preliminary research based on interviews before processing her digital portraits into a lenticular image. The mobility that this special method of printing entails symbolizes the influence that the Rotterdammers portrayed have on their environment: they allow everything around them to grow and blossom.

Johan Kleinjan 
Johan Kleinjan (1974) portrays the nature reserve Eiland van Brienenoord. Scottish Highlanders graze in this nature reserve right under the Van Brienenoord Bridge and special birds and butterflies have settled there. But what will happen to this place if, according to current plans, a third city bridge is built from De Esch? In his detailed, colorful drawings, Kleinjan combines views he found on Google Maps with his documentation of what he encounters in the nature reserve. This leads to the use of surprising perspectives in his work.

Nuno Orlando 
Nuno Orlando (1990) traveled to the Heijplaat Quarantine site as a city illustrator. Various artists have established their studios at this location in the middle of the harbour, where they simultaneously maintain the special nature of the site. The question is whether the artists and nature will still be here in a few years, because the Port Authority has all kinds of plans for the area. In his drawings, Orlando records what he sees in an impressionistic manner.

Rotterdam city draftsmen 
Even before the bombing of May 14, 1940, but especially during the reconstruction, cartoonists recorded the changes in the city. Until the late 80s, the Rotterdam City Archives annually commissioned artists. Since 2018, this tradition has been restored, in collaboration with CBK Rotterdam, and city illustrators are further supplementing the collection of the Rotterdam City Archives. This year the city illustrators were selected by a jury consisting of artist Hedy Tjin, Ove Lucas (CBK Rotterdam), Jantje Steenhuis and Wanda Waanders (Rotterdam City Archives) and David Snels (curator Kunsthal). After the exhibition, the drawings of the city illustrators will be included in the collection of the City Archives and will become part of the Rotterdam Collection.

Photo captions (top to bottom)
1. The Observer, Quarantine site Heijplaat. Nuno Orlando, 2023
2. Thirza Prak. Curls and Herbs, Takatukaland Heptathlon. Xaviera Altena, 2023
3. Highlander, Island of Brienenoord. Johan Kleinjan, 2023

Publication date: 22 / 09 / 2023