About the work
Bert's painting called 'Crossing bridges' was inspired by a visit in September 2018 to the old railroad bridge 'De Hef' in Rotterdam.
'De Hef' (which means lever) is a steel railroad bridge that connects the Northern Island (Noordereiland) in the river Maas with the Southern district Feyenoord in Rotterdam. The Hef bridge Rotterdam was built in 1877 as a moving swing bridge to connect railroad traffic in the North of the Netherlands with the South. De Hef was part of a long railroad bridge that ran straight through the city of Rotterdam. In 1918, a German steamship ran into the swing bridge and destroyed it. The original lift bridge was replaced by a movable swing bridge which was completed in 1927. De Hef Rotterdam was the first rail bridge of its kind in Western Europe. De Hef is operated by two 60 meter high towers with huge concrete counterweights to lift the bridge deck. This construction allows big ships to pass under the bridge.
In 1993, the Willems railroad tunnel was opened to replace De Hef in Rotterdam and other railroad bridges. Nowadys trains pass the river Maas underwater and a big part of the city of Rotterdam underground. Nowadays De Hef is not in use anymore, but you can still see the railroad tracks at the bridge. The Hef bridge in Rotterdam is sometimes open for visitors and is a Dutch national heritage site. The Hef's official name is Koningshavenbrug Rotterdam. This contrast is typical for the architecture in Rotterdam.
On the bridge in the painting you can observe two persons, unlikely to be there: a young boy and a beggar. The beggar kisses the hand the boy and symbolizing with that act the title of the painting: 'Crossing bridges'. As a model for the beggar Bert choosed Dobri Dimitrov Dobrev (20 July 1914 – 13 February 2018). Dobri Dimitrov Dobrev, better known as Grandpa Dobri or The Saint of Bailovo, was a Bulgarian ascetic who walked over 20 kilometres (12 mi) each day to sit or stand in front of the Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky in Sofia to collect money for charitable causes. Dobrev donated all the money he collected to charities, orphanages, churches, and monasteries. He turned 100 in July 2014. In Bulgarian, his name translates as "good" or "kind".
In background of the painting the other two mayor bridges (the Willemsbrug and the Erasmus brug) can be seen.