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What do you want to aspire to?

What do you want to aspire to?

When art meets science

Who: Ree Meertens, senior lecturer Health Sciences

Painting: Titus as a Monk, Rembrandt (in the Rijksmuseum)

Target group: all students

Rembrandt is one of the favourite painters of Ree Meertens, health scientist and artist. “I love the humanity of his paintings. He can express something that goes above and beyond time and cultures.” Take the portrait of his son, who died at a young age: Titus as a Monk. “People think that his style is very old-fashioned; that he only paints what he sees. But that is not the case. Titus’ expression has clearly been looked for; that is not how you look when you pose for a painting. Rembrandt shows exactly what he wants you to see. A sensitive boy, a meditative adolescent.”

She feels that when you look from a short distance, the painting appears impressionistic. “Some parts have been painted in a crazy manner. There is a streak of paint near his eye, for example. Close up you think: how did he dare to do that? But standing back, you see that it was exactly the right streak in the right place. Things like that amaze me tremendously.”

According to Meertens, this kind of craftsmanship and talent gets you thinking. “I don’t have that with every painting. When I walk through the Rijksmuseum, which is where this painting is displayed, I also see paintings that are not quite top notch. They don’t move me as much, whereas this painting instantly gives me energy. You start thinking: Where do my talents lie? What is worth aspiring to? How do you prevent just living one day after another doing something that, in hindsight, you never really wanted to do?” Students are precisely the people who should be thinking about such questions. “You are never too young to start, now is when you can change something.”

It is not just paintings that can incite these thoughts, says Meertens. “It’s personal, others may only experience it with music. I love it when something moves you the minute you look at it. That it enters your mind just by seeing it, without it having to be explained, without you even being able to describe exactly why that is the case. But it is all about the experience of that feeling, and you can get that from anything of quality.”

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