Written by Drager Meurtant


A recurring dream: Sitting in the backseat of a car, driving with increasing speed down a steep slope and then the discovery that the driver is asleep, or dead?

A man I know since my early childhood – he was born in 1919 – has remembrance of the Great Depression, and of the looming threat and then actual striking outbreak of World War Two. He knows what car he and my mother drove during the era of the Korean War – a Ford V8 – and the number on the license plate: L9336. Together they felt the terror of a possible conflict with massive use of versions of “The Big One”. Even so, my dad, on a day in the second week of December 2022, expressed his strongly experienced and depressed view about the poor perspective for his great-grandchildren. That feeling is shared by many nowadays.

Society has experience with earlier dark episodes. Midway the 20th century people faced the extent of the genocide on Jewish, Sinti, Roma, homosexual and mentally-handicapped people by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 and this undermined the trust of many in human behaviour. The start of the nuclear era produced a further shock, with the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs in 1945.

Also in the art – according to actual memory of our generation – these events produced a major shift in perspective of human society. “This fusion of the terror and allure of destruction <….> represents an essential dichotomy in art and culture since World War II”. The enormous effects of nuclear energy, not confined to the sun, brought artists to seek a new position for their art in relation to this potentially cataclysmic and annihilating power.

In current times – up till the present (early 2023) – the dangerous consequences of climate change and loss of biodiversity increasingly have penetrated the conscience and experience of people, with daily news reports published in recent years. Furthermore, there is a constant flow of images from the war in Ukraine – started by Putin in February 2022 -, plus the threat of a war waged by the People’s Republic of China against Taiwan. News in many forms spreads more frequently and rapidly by all sorts of media than news from most wars and disasters did in the past. This leads to a higher level of stress in society, while increased avoidance of news over time might be taken as one form of response to such stress. Furthermore, various armed conflicts as well as negative consequences of climate change have led to a steep increase in the number of refugees, which may also lead to unrest in areas that experience this migration.

The easy spreading and sharing of news may be considered one reason that more people now have a sombre picture of the future of the earth and society. Current generations have become trained in thinking that they control their destiny, more so than in earlier generations. However, the bombardment of news that warns of damage by climate change and loss of good living conditions makes people – in particular young people – feel powerless and thus, depressed. Early 2023 there will be an issue of Frontiers in Psychology published on the effect of the war in Ukraine on global health and my expectation is that – again – the unrelentless exposure to news of atrocities will lead to a feeling of being powerless against such continuous and massive criminal actions even when at a distance. This will have significant negative impact on mental health in countries not directly involved in this war.

Over the past 6 years this author has also experienced a change of mind that has influenced his art. More often there came a link with daily news that dealt with inequality and violence in society, and anger rose that leaders and institutions were not able to prevent such negative events. The artworks and associated poetry texts relate this personal evolution. The short, often poetical, texts do not explain the visual art. Rather, they tell the story through different means.
There is also irritation about the word ‘hope’. Hope is not enough: action is needed. Action to end the use of fossil energy. To have trade more associated with respect for human rights.


Poem for a statue

Statue, you look at me
with your fools eyes,
that are no eyes.

Statue, your mouth swears
my imperfection
to tell the truth.

You suck me empty
you drain my power
you feed yourself
with my imagination
and leave me hollow.


Wandering – on top of the hill

That’s what I’m telling,
about the time
I was wandering –
on top of the hill.

Not about how it is
to go down:

One must get down,
but it ain’t worth
talking about.

The top, the summit
that’s where you want to be.

There is our society
of hills and mountains.

Valleys are for other people.


Shutted up

Perhaps he had a big mouth
and used too many words.

Perhaps the way he looked
got us irritated.

No matter what,
he is shutted up
for now and for long.



Relief came with
the sight of this
closed wooden door,
struck by graffiti.

The key is like any other,
not to keep people
but rather to let them

You say:

“Such a simple scheme
of separation of
sanity and lunacy,

I must make
a mental copy

Just in case
we meet, again.”


What are you telling, now?

“What you’re telling now,
that this day, this very day,
started without the sun.

There was no sunrise,
no sound of birds.
There were no colours.

Then, hours too late,
the sun arrived.
saw us fighting.

Our fight was not the usual.
It was not triggered
by that late arrival.

We had an argument,
fierce, about who
we could blame”


The other – portrait,
the confinement of modern times tangible

Looking for a look alike
a similar surface
a glance familiar
undisturbed by
the boiling inner

A look, not in danger
of a blasting eruption.

But a face at peace
with anything, with
nothing even.

That’s why


The Scientist

“The scientist counted brain cells
and connections,
then he measured the distance
between boulders in the stream
as related to the strength and speed
of the current passing,

until an aching toe
drew his attention to
a shoe too narrow
for his foot.”


Exploring the past

Two billion years long, there
was a standstill on the earth..
Such is our human perception.

Life was restricted to the sea
and alien,
pretty much as strange
as that in
Russia today.

Such is our view
on one of the last days
of 2022.


Drager Meurtant is the artist alias of Gerard Rutteman (The Netherlands) who - after graduating as DVM and obtaining his PhD degree in veterinary sciences – has worked for 39 years in veterinary medicine as oncologist and researcher. In this period he has published over 125 publications in peer-reviewed biomedical scientific journals, as well as several journalistic essays for the general public. He undertook a few exercises in the making of assemblages over these years, and five years before retiring started a second carreer as artist. Fields encompass photography, and creation of assemblages, collages, graphics and painting. Images of these art-forms are often accompanied by short poetic, often ironic, texts.



The author thanks Jaap Joles for valuable help with English grammar.

Text and photos/artworks © Drager Meurtant.



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By Drager Meurtant


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