Multatuli (1975) Mathieu Ficheroux

Otto Snoek
About the artwork

While writing the book 'Max Havelaar', writer Multatuli was often in Rotterdam. Eduard Douwes Dekker (as Multatuli was really called) stayed in Hotel Weimar for a longer period of time. He wrote in the NRC Handelsblad that anyone interested could meet him there to get an insight into 'the Havelaar case'. The only one who came to see him there was someone who still had a lot of money from him. In 1975 the W. Pieterse bookstore in Poetry was opened in Mauritsstraat. The W. stood for Woutertje, from Multatuli's novel 'Woutertje Pieterse'. Visual artist Mathieu Ficheroux designed the logo and stationery for the store. In the early 1970s, artists, including Ficheroux, wanted to reduce the separation between art and the public. They wanted attention for the role of art in public life and art for a wide audience. The Rotterdam Art Foundation started implementing targeted policy on this and started the 'town painting' project. The portrait of Multatuli with the text 'Seen from the moon we are all the same size' made by Ficheroux, is a striking example of this. Multatuli was unveiled with great interest diagonally opposite the poetry shop on June 7, 1975. When the building on Mauritsstraat was demolished in 1985, the store moved to Van Oldebarneveltstraat. The portrait moved with it. In 1998 it was decided to completely renew the work affected by weather and wind. When the painting for this restoration was removed, great commotion arose. Such an image could not simply be removed. The relocation was therefore celebrated exuberantly with a large neighborhood party.

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About the artist

Mathieu Ficheroux (Rotterdam, 1926 - 2003) studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam. In 1969 he was awarded the Rotterdam Hendrik Chabot Prize. In the 1960s, eroticism and alienation formed a thematic undertone in Ficheroux 'pink and brown paintings, his plastic objects and his light reliefs (sleeping pieces). In the 1970s he depicted the transience in frames and damaged paintings. Since the 1980s, Ficheroux has again concentrated primarily on painting and drawing.

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