Bep Rietveld's Portraits from Japanese interment camps

Bep Rietveld's Portraits from Japanese interment camps

Now on view | until 7 july

Bep Rietveld (1913-1999), daughter of furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld and student of Charley Toorop, painted and drew portraits and still lifes all her life. After a failed marriage, she traveled to Batavia in 1938 to start a new life there. During the Second World War, she and her children ended up in the horrors of various Japanese internment camps. There she made portraits, mainly of children and her fellow campmates, with minimal resources.

Search for camp portraits

From 2018 onwards, a call was made on Bep Rietveld's website and via Facebook to report portraits made by Bep during the Japanese occupation. Thirty of these portraits were on display in the exhibition at Museum Flehite in 2020. After this well-attended exhibition and after the broadcast of the NOS documentary about the search for the camp portraits, another 15 drawings emerged. These can now also be seen in Museum Flehite.

Het Indische Licht, the book

The stories now also written down in the book 'Het Indische Licht'
Based on archival research, ego documents and interviews, historian Erika Prins wrote down the stories behind all these portraits. How did these families end up in the Dutch East Indies? How did they earn a living? How did they fare during the war and afterwards? Prins placed these different life histories, including that of Rietveld himself, in their historical context. The result is a kaleidoscopic story about a unique period in colonial history.

For sale from March 12 for €26.99 in the museum shop and bookstore.


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