Inner fire at Firely
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Inner fire art exhibition at the Firely office

Rien Wertheim

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From October 14 until December 16, the Firely office will host an art exhibition titled Inner fire. Ten artists will select and display works of art related to the title of the exhibition. With this exhibition, we want to demonstrate that, since Covid, an office can be more than just a building with workers, computers and a coffee machine. That it’s primarily a place to forge relationships, encourage serendipity and be inspired.

Inner fire refers to our deepest motivations to do the things we do on a daily basis. Inner fire is never just about making money. You can make a living without having such a thing as an inner fire. If there is an inner fire, it’s always about something else, something related to that elusive and undefinable thing we call meaning. Often, our inner fire is not what we tell others, or even ourselves.

For an artist, the inner fire is probably different than it is for you and me, people with “regular” jobs. For starters, the artistic inner fire is, and needs to be, much stronger. Hotter, if you will. Each new work of art starts with a blank slate. There can be no routine. No time keeping, no quotes, no billing. No working days or weekends. No manager telling you what to do or looking over your shoulder. If the fire doesn’t burn within, it doesn’t burn anywhere.

We asked the participating artists about their inner fire. Lisanne Hoogerwerf: “To me, inner fire means life force and life energy. Everything I do or make, is from within, without external necessity. Only when I manage to follow my creative urge without any hindrance, will I be able to create something unexpected and beautiful.” Or Daniel Levi: “My inner fire is unreachable like the subconscious, and unquenchable like a peat fire.” And Anne van As tells us: “First I paint, without worrying about the overall image. Then an inner fire keeps me brushing and painting until the painting is finished. A struggle that never ends.”

Anne van As, Orange light. Acrylic on wood.

Looking at the dozens of artworks on display at the exhibition, it is not always obvious how this inner fire is expressed in the image. But the longer and closer you look, the more you see. In Lisanne Hoogerwerf’s Abditory, we see a slumlike shed in a desolate landscape next to a bare tree. In front of the shed a small round pond. Is this a war setting? What is that glow in the pond? Poison? The reflection of the setting sun? Or the earth’s inner light shining through the crust, coloring the desolation of the scorched earth?

Lisanne Hoogerwerf, Abditory. C-print on Dibond.

One of Pieter Kusters’ artworks, Lucifer, shows the artist’s face surrounded by unburnt matches. The face is disfigured by burn marks, referring perhaps to the pain that is inextricably linked to the creative process.

Pieter Kusters, Lucifer. Watercolor.

Thijs Linssen created a screen saver especially for this exhibition, to be displayed on the computer screens in our office: a watery sun that barely manages to break through the clouds in a Dutch rainy sky, perpetually bumping against the edges of the computer screen. The pale reflection of an inner fire, caught in a box.

Thijs Linssen, Sunscreensaver Wijk aan zee

A final example: the pollard willow of C.A. Wertheim (yes, family), reminding us of the more gloomy paintings with the same subject by Vincent van Gogh. This particular pollard willow seems to tell us silently: You can knot me all you want in winter, but I will bud gloriously in spring by all the life that’s in me!

C.A. Wertheim, Untitled. Ink on paper.

Back to us, back to FHIR and Firely. What is our deepest motivation? Ewout Kramer, cofounder of FHIR and Firely: “My inner fire for FHIR is related to healthcare. We deal with humans at their most vulnerable. The value we bring is not one of luxury, but of necessity. Others depend on us to improve and sometimes save their lives. And ultimately, we are bound to the others in the field by the inevitability that we will all at some point be patients ourselves.”

The exhibition Inner fire runs from October 14 to December 16, 2022. Opening hours are Fridays from 5 to 7 PM or by appointment (call +31-644920812 or +31-622029917). The address is Westerdok 442 in Amsterdam. Participating artists are Anne van As, Heike Kati Barath, Sjef van Beers, Lisanne Hoogerwerf, Julia Kiryanova, Pieter Kusters, Fons van Laar, Daniel Levi, Thijs Linssen, C.A. Wertheim. More images are available on Facebook and Instagram.

The exhibition is curated by C.A. Wertheim, with special thanks to Anne van As.

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