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Netherlands: Festive Opening of the Art Exhibition ‘In Search of Brederoc’

A long wait it was! The original exhibition was set to open its doors more than two years ago. But, as happened in the case of so many events and celebrations, an uninvited and undesirable visitor by the name of Covid-19 scuppered the original planning.

Martien van Leeuwen MHM and his invaluable team of expert assistants and fellow enthusiasts – The Dutch Master Painters – kept the momentum going notwithstanding numerous obstacles and challenges.

So, finally, yesterday, Sunday September 11th, their long-cherished dream came to fruition: the Tongerlo Huys Museum in Roosendaal opened its doors to what the museum director called ‘a once in a lifetime totally unexpected beautiful surprise gift’.

A sizeable delegation of retired Mill Hill Missionaries, residents of Sint Jozefhuis, made the trip to Roosendaal to witness this once in a lifetime artistic and missionary event.

The exhibition ‘In Search of Brederoc’ features a choice of arresting paintings – self-portraits, still lives, landscapes and nudes – and beautiful etchings. They are the lifetime’s work of Fr Kees Breed MHM (a.k.a Brederoc), a gifted painter as well as inspired missionary in the Philippines.

In her introductory talk principal organiser, Ms Giséla in ‘t Veld, spoke of the ‘barn find’ which left her and fellow founder of the Dutch Master Painters, Bart van Gerwen,  gobsmacked, when, at the invitation of Martien van Leeuwen, they came to investigate the artistic legacy of Fr Kees Breed safely tucked away on the loft of Missiehuis Vrijland. This hidden treasure was crying out to be revealed to the wide world, they were convinced. And so the process started. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Herman Pleij, emeritus professor of Medieval Literature and well-known public speaker, gave the keynote address at the opening of the exhibition. Focusing on the series of self-portraits in the opening gallery of the exhibition he defined the missionary artist Brederoc as a painter not content with likeness but searching to portray the essence.

Kees Breed, he argued,  was a passionate artist with a keen eye for social inequality. His portraits of ordinary, often poor, Filippino subjects witness to that passion.

Not content with merely expressing his passion in art he also founded a periodical called ‘Impact’ which carried his keen insights into social and political – and church – issues far and wide to a readership of some 30.000 subscribers!

His missionary calling thus found a delightfully original expression through his artistic and writer’s talent.

One of the panels at the exhibition puts it this way:

‘God is the inner reality that binds everything together’.

The last few years of his life he developed a keen interest in the mystical dimension of our existence. Other faiths and currents of thought attract his attention. In word and image you encounter everywhere the influence of Hinduism and theosophy. In essence he searched for our inner mystical reality of us humans, and of our planet Earth, all his life.

Fons Eppink MHM

View additional pics on FLICKr

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