This exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum’s Photographic Gallery is the work of guest curator Willem van Zoetendaal. It is composed of photographs by Frits Rotgans (1912-1978) and Leo Divendal (1947), plus a wonderful collection of picture postcards used by an anonymous artist in search of inspiration for his paintings. Rotgans gained international recognition in the world of photography through his use of special home-made landscape cameras.
His desire to own such a camera originated in 1947, when he wanted to photograph a 2-kilometre-long train of barges as part of a series of pictures of barges and bargees. During the 1950s he used his own hand-made cameras to take spectacular views of the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and of ships on the Rhine. The results are crystal-clear monochrome prints which attracted critical acclaim both in the Netherlands and abroad.
In contrast to the sharpness of Rotgans’ pictures, Leo Divendal’s inkjet prints look almost painterly. For his ‘Sea of Marmara’ project, he used a enormous telephoto lens to photograph ships waiting at anchor in the port of Istanbul. In the prints, the colours break down into rough grains, turning huge vessels into misty silhouettes with glowing red hulls. Here and there, small boats bob around transporting crewmen to and from the shore.
The series of old picture postcards of ports and seascapes completes the artistic circle. They were once used by an artist seeking inspiration for his oil paintings and appear to have lain on the studio floor - probably around his easel, to judge by the multi-coloured paint spatters with which they are covered.