I amsterdam: draw on the water

On the cold afternoon of 29 of December 2001, a ritual ceremony took place in the Blue Bridge over the River Amstel in the city of Amsterdam. Three humans: Eduardo Tovar Estrada, Mariana da Costa and Beatriz Acevedo, celebrated their engagement with the city. This is a romantic story, between the fantastic city and these three Latin Americans who have fallen in love with her. There was of course, a ring made of red tulips thrown to the green greyed waters of the Amstel, some sparking lights to celebrate, cheers with dutch gin, a traditional porrito and some words from our Best Man Tom Blickman, completed the ceremony in front of witness and some pedestrians who observed the scene… later on, the bride-city covered in snow blushed with happiness!

By this engagement with the city, we promised to love her, to visit her and to honour her. I have fulfilled my promise of visiting Amsterdam every so often, and each year I find a way to travel and rekindle my infatuation with this amazing city.  This time was not the exception and I had the fortune to travel with my friend Alison Stowell, in a sort of business/pleasure adventure in the last days of our collaborative work at the university.

As a beautiful and coquettish city, Amsterdam welcome us in her beautiful winter colors. A soft breeze in the sunday afternoon and a stroll toward Johann’s place (www.antiek58.nl) just in front of the canal in the bohemian neighborhood of Jordan.  His house, recently renovated, is a listed building reflecting the architecture of this iconic city. Its interior design reflects the sophisticated style of his owner: a mixture of shabby chic (the proper and original style, of used walls, grey / blueish interiors of french decandence), industrial look and a baroque decoration of transparent glass, silver and beautiful flower arrangements. It was a “open house day” for customers and friends to peruse around the beautiful objects, carefully selected in small markets in the South of France.


With this first stop, -wine and mustard cheese-, we started our visual journey for this amazing city. The aesthetic of the architecture, the vibrancy of the water and the transparency of homes and gardens offer a generous “banquet” for the visitor.  Each of its corners and little houses, taken from a chocolate box, are an invitation to play and to draw and indeed, we drew some exquisite corpses in every corner or coffee shop/place we stop in our pilgrimage:

Amsterdam2013-1Exquisite Corpse with Alison Stowell (Neocolor on hand made paper)

Amsterdam2013-2Exquisite Corpse with Alison Stowell (Black ink on hand made paper)

I truly adore to walk by the city. I particularly enjoy to share it with my friends, show them part of my history, the wild days of the noughties and the beautiful sights. It was very nice to walk around and remember little places, or simply to get lost and discover new areas.


“Fumando espero” (Smoke and wait)… Alison in Amsterdam. (Ink on hand made paper BAcevedo)


Walking by the Vondelpark (Ink on hand made paper BAcevedo)

At the flat (our pied e terre) we also get inspired by the quirky decorative style of our host Eduardo. He collects and deals with walking canes, a very exclusive market of collectors, museums and hedonists, interested in this iconic object (Antique Canes Amsterdam). Around the flat, there are vaults and coffers, and candles, and of course, canes! canes everywhere… nautical or folkloric, operatic and decorative, erotic and instrumental, this place is a display of the allure and power of this object.  It is a pleasure to be around this luminous space, our refuge and shelter in the cold days of the winter… thanks so much!


Antique Coffers and Vaults (Ink on hand made paper BAcevedo)


Alison’s shoes under the candles (Ink on hand made paper BAcevedo)


Walking cane (Ink on hand made paper BAcevedo)


Art Nouveau Walking cane (Ink on hand made paper BAcevedo)

I should have mentioned first the artistic treasures of the city, the recently renovated Rijksmuseum, that deserves a whole afternoon. The building was restored in its original design: the decorated columns and the luminous interior.

“The Rijksmuseum has been a working museum for more than 125 years. The current building, which was designed by the architect Pierre Cuypers, was opened in 1885. To those approaching from the direction of the old town, the museum looks impressive and somewhat severe. From the Museumplein, however, it looks more like a fairytale castle. After more than a century of intensive use, this huge building needed a radical makeover. In the year 2000, the government of the day gave the go-ahead. After a lengthy period of preparation, work finally started in 2004. The main building was handed over in 2012, and work began on preparing for the opening. Following its refit, this internationally renowned museum is now fully compliant with the requirements of our modern age.” (Rijksmuseum, Webpage)

 I think that the master pieces are beautifully displayed and excellent information about the importance of these paintings are available to the public. We went through the famous Night Watch and explored the reflective painting of Vermeer. The solitary women concentrated in their domestic tasks look suspended in time… what are they thinking? why are they so lonely? What will happen next? These are all questions connected to the way in which women are represented in that particular period of Flemish history. In one of the wings, the women still pour water or sew or read, waiting for love or simply waiting…  Women, wise and wonderful… and some amazing encounters with old friends made my life so happy this time!

Another amazing place to visit, is the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam: a partnership between the majestic St Petesbourgh museum in the twin city of Amsterdam. The connection refers to the foundation of the city of St Petersbourgh by the Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. He was inspired by Venice and Amsterdam, and invited Dutch and German engineers to plan the city. This association is re-created in the privileged opportunity to see some of the treasures collected by Russian industrialists of French and modernist paintings.  The exhibition on Gauguin, Bonnard and Denis, include a generous amount of paintings from these artists and other related painters such as Felix Valloton, Vouilard, called the “Nabis” (or prophets). This is a beautiful and poetic exhibition, as these artists explored the connections between luminosity and the symbolic aspects of painting. The links between decoration, symbolism and a novel use of colors really make an impression not only on your eyes but deep inside your soul!

In the next post i will be commenting more on this beautiful exhibition… by now I just want to leave it there and invite the reader to enjoy a moment of solitude… a moment of silence… look around…

what do you see?…

yes… the world is really beautiful and perhaps you have also the fortune of living in a wonderful place!

It is when we go somewhere and explore with new eyes when we realise how nice can everything be… but it is our eyes that keep the magic, our heart who warms with light, and our hand playfully dancing on the paper…


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