How to have an artist serve you breakfast: Kuin Heuff

Kuin Heuff portraits

Are you shy? Then you’ll probably hate Wake up in it. If you’re not you might just love them. The founding ladies match you up with an artist, who arranges a sleepover for you. Simply because it’s cool to meet new people. If the theme of a festival or exhibition allows it, the concept expands to dinner, breakfast or activities. And so it happens that Rotterdam artist Kuin Heuff serves Museologue a 4-star breakfast. She tells me all about her work and we visit the interactive exhibition Do It, where we write the back sheet of a book and add a wish to the Yoko Ono tree. Interaction, baby, yeah!

Spotify tip while reading: A sentence of sorts in Kongsvinger by Of Montreal


Breakfast with Kuin Heuff

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit nervous as I stall my bike. Having breakfast at a stranger’s place is no daily food, but it wouldn’t be this special if it were. I know which house it is, because I instantly recognize the typical portraits on the walls. It’s not only her home, but her studio as well. She greets me with a smile as she rushes back to the kitchen. The scrambled eggs need scrambling. Fresh bread, bacon, and home made espresso. Breakfast is a serious matter.

But that’s as serious as it gets. Now there are two types of people. The ones that follow the book with a polite inquiry into your age, background, and marital status before they decide to trust you. And there are the ones without a script, who welcome you warmly just the way you are. That’s just how Kuin Heuff receives me and we spend a good part of the day chatting scriptless. We cover anything from Krav-Maga to capturing the perfect portrait and the pitfalls of elevator pitching, but I still have no idea if she has a boyfriend or where she grew up. Just the way I like it.

How Kuin became a portrait artist

Kuin tells me about her work. She studied at the Willem de Kooning art academy here in Rotterdam. That’s where she started her work on portraits. Not just realistic painting, but she’s looking for movement, a different way of showing someone’s personality. The teachers do what they do best: criticizing the work. Only the ones with a vision take that as an encouragement, and Kuin continues with the portrait work.

Studio of Kuin Heuff
Kuin Heuff portrait of Twiggy

But first she releases it all. After graduation, Kuin tries out all corners of the creative field. She does fashion design, festivals, and theater script writing, just what enters her realm. Talking about all-round! But finally, she returns to her portraits and it takes another four years for her to discover how she can get that movement in the portraits that she is looking for. And now she has, you won’t believe your eyes!

Her art is unique. She starts off with painting a colorful portrait in visible brush strokes. Then she uses a small knife to cut out parts of the portrait. The voids are shaped by following the brushwork. They emphasize the countless shapes of the face. So, by taking away stuff she curiously adds personality and movement. And the resulting portraits look a bit like 3d-sketches, larger than life and impressive. Their texture reminds me a bit of the 3d-printed dresses by Iris van Herpen (see here). I wonder what her teachers say of it, today!

Do it

The idea of having breakfast with an artist is part of the exhibition Do It in the Kunsthal, Rotterdam. Wake up in it created their own hotel reception at it, where they took in subscribers last weekend. It’s called Breakfast in art. It is the ultimate interaction between artist and ‘public’ and that’s exactly what Do It is about. The result? An exhibition starring a meadow where you are summoned to search for a four-leaf clover, on your knees in the grass. Humming a song upon entering the exhibition hall, so that the guard hears it. Putting a new color line on the wall according to the rules, in the footsteps of Sol LeWitt. Filling a wall with colorful pieces of clay. Hallelujah!

If you want to be matched to an artist after this exhibition, you can. Check yourelf in at Wake up in ita unique experience guaranteed.

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