With ‘Amsterdam Oersoep’ artist duo Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam and artist Hans van Bentem bring an ode to the canals of Amsterdam. The title of the work refers to primordial soup. Each object, from the ceiling to the floors, has symbolic references to the city of Amsterdam, its history and its future. Hans van Bentem: “The ceiling for example contains a tube of paint that flows into a rainbow referring to the colorful nature of Amsterdam, its tolerance for the LGBTQ community, but it also contains the image of a tiger, liquor bottles, fish, rats and numerous art historical references to famous artists like Van Gogh & Rembrandt.”

The floor is made out of a traditional Italian Terrazzo with a pattern designed to resemble archeological excavations.

The walls are made of handmade tiles of glass mosaics with a golden finish, with 27 symbols applied in goldluster. In addition, immensely large gilded and engraved mirrors are installed displaying a tale of water, life and death, The mirrors were laid in the same way as the antique advertising mirrors that were made in the early 1900s for beverage and tobacco brands. In this way, they correspond to the artistic style periods of the surrounding architecture, namely art deco and art nouveau.

The lighting is provided by a total of seven chandeliers in three different styles: two large ones (named ‘Rembrandt’), one middle size (the ‘Vermeer’), and four smaller ones (named after ‘Ferdinand Bol’). These unique chandeliers are made of recycled bicycle parts, such as gears, head lamps, and handlebars – a reference to the sediment found in the Amsterdam canals and the Dutch tradition of cycling

This work is a journey through the history of Amsterdam, its main arteries, the canals. A crowd stopper, freezing a moment in time thanks to its elaborate craftsmanship and rich materials, celebrating our everyday source of life: our holy water.

All images by Frank Hanswijk.

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