I am a graphic artist from the Netherlands. My figurative linocuts and woodcuts often address political and societal topics, because art has the ability to make these complex issues accessible. My primary inspiration comes from art, the work is influenced by styles such as art nouveau, symbolism, surrealism and pop-art. The works often explicitly refer to specific artists, styles and even existing artworks.
My work can be described as anti-conceptual art. My art is characterized by a radical disinterest in material and materiality. It characterizes itself by the use of traditional media, techniques, styles and iconography. It is anti-conceptual because I think conceptual art generally fails to do what it promises. The liberation from traditional art forms has not led to the ability to better portray concepts. Rather it has shrouded ideas in piles of objects and materials. Therefore I returned to traditional art forms as I think that after a century of conceptual art these are still best understood by, and therefore most suitable for reaching, the public at large. Anti-conceptual art is not necessarily traditional, I think new art forms such as digital art can also be suitable for creating accessible art (in that sense I find the work by Herre Methorst very inspirational, as it is both innovative and aesthetic). I think artists should aim to win back the public which we have lost in the past fifty years of conceptual dominance in art and art academies.
Art Nouveau to Orwell
My work is influenced by styles such as art nouveau, symbolism, surrealism and pop-art. Rather than asking questions I aim to portray specific opinions. In that sense my political art can be seen as the visual exponent of my political writings (which are for example published by the website www.joop.nl and newspapers such as the NRC and Het Parool). My writings are heavily inspired by George Orwell, notably (in terms of style) by the followings rules which Orwell noted down for writing in his essay “Politics and the English Language” (he noted six rules but these three mainly inspired me):
“Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”
Anton Heyboer as main source of inspiration
Anton Heyboer is a major inspiration when it comes to the accessibility of art. During the 1960’s and 1970’s Heyboer was one of the Netherlands most prominent artists. His works were displayed multiple times during Documenta and in 1975 the Stedelijk Museum organized a major exhibition with his work. In galleries his etchings were sold for thousands of euros. In 1984 Heyboer decided to break with the art world. He saw that his works had become too expensive for most people and he realised that only the elite could still afford his work. In an attempt to reduce his prices he sat down with gallery owners and he asked them if they would be willing to sell his work for no more than double the amount for which he would sell it to them. Thereby the galleries could still earn money and he could make his work affordable again. They unanimously refused because they thought that he should not interfere with the pricing of his work after they had bought it. Therefore he decided to sell his work from his farm in Den Ilp for no more than a couple of hundred euros (sometimes even for less than a hundred euros). Since that day he drew large crowds of people who came to his farm to buy his work. But the art world lost all interest in him. They described him as crazy (he had already been taken into a clinic in 1955 so this was by no means something they ‘just found out’ about him). They started to criticize him for having multiple wives (he had multiple wives since the 1960’s). And lastly they described his work as commercial (oddly considering he rebelled against his work being too expensive). In my view Heyboer is the most important anti-capitalist artist of the 20th-century. His radical effort to make his work affordable and accessible for the larger public inspired me to keep my work affordable. My art is now often bought by young people and students, people whom cannot spend a fortune to buy art.
Both in my writing and in art accessibility is the key. I think that when the message is important everything should be done to make it reach a large audience, whether it is through writing or visual art.