Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Enno de Kroon

(click images to enlarge)

“The concept of "recycling" usually refers to the breaking down of used items into raw materials and then using those materials to make new items. In contrast, the concept of "reuse" includes both using an item again for its original function, as well as for "new-life reuse" where it is used for a brand new function. "ReUsing is similar to Recycling, only we aren't getting rid of things, we are finding new uses for them" explains INSPIRE, administrator of The ReUse Project group on Flickr that serves as an International hub for reuse artists.

A main aspect of my own art-making process involves recycling and reusing. I would wager to say that about 80% of my work is constructed of recycled or reused materials and almost 100% of it contains at least one recycled or reused element. That said, I always keep an eye out for other artists who help our earth along by making art out of these materials, but I would have noticed Enno de Kroon’s work regardless. I'm crazy about it!

Leading both recycling art and cubism into the 21st century is, Enno de Kroon, from The Netherlands. Enno uses ordinary egg crates instead of canvas to make spectacular "two-and-a-half" dimensional paintings in a style he defines as Eggcubism.

The most obvious question to ask Enno de Kroon is what he was thinking when he decided to start painting on such an inconvenient surface as an egg carton:

“The egg carton works came about out of my previous work where I find the relationship between the viewer and the piece as an object to be of great importance. I’ve always played with distortions of perspective, which puts the viewer on the wrong foot and makes them conscious of their manner of observing. The way we see things is so conditioned and decides what our minds eventually see in something. The egg cartons had been lying around my studio for some time ready for me to be painted upon, but it took some courage before I could take the plunge. It also took a while to come up with a product I was satisfied with.”

Painting with hinderances requires a new approach by the painter, which in turn has led the viewer to have to take a new approach to looking at the art.

The viewer discovers quickly the presence of an obstacle when looking at these works and finds it necessary to look at it from different sides, and then to decide themselves which position they want to take. Every position suffers the consequence that other parts of the work can’t be seen. The extra effort of this process really offers something new to the art: The process of viewing this art work becomes a purposeful, even interactive and exciting experience where both your expectations and memory play a role.

“In this way I’ve been inspired by cubism, the art form developed at the beginning of the 20th century where Picasso and Braque were the pioneers. They were the first to show us that you can take an object, a person or landscape, and simultaneously show it from different angles. It was also due to the times and the fact that much thought and contemplation surrounded psychological subjects and experiments. Freud’s Gestallt theory suggested that the human spirit automatically strives for the complete and will, on its own, complete an image."

"But in contrast to cubistic painting, it remains always with my paintings that it isn’t the single or multiple interpretations of the artist which matter. The viewer plays, by simply accepting my work, an active role. My work is dependant upon the viewer, it is only valuable once it is in the spirit of the one who beholds it."

"Just how long do we spend looking at a piece of art in a museum? Usually not longer than about ten minutes, and even then it would be an exceptionally interesting painting. Eventually a masterwork “exists” only immaterially, in the spirit of the one who has seen it; the memory of looking at the image plays an important role. This is also the reason for the fact that many people still know in what context they have witnessed or experienced an important event. If an image makes an impact upon you, then it has the potential to remain intriguing and inspiring to the public. A famous painting becomes “carried” through a great many people, and has won a place in our collective memories.”

This self awareness became De Kroon’s starting point, and started him off approaching the viewer as an experienced entity. “The average person of the 21st century is used to processing an enormous amount of visual information. Even when you watch television these days we are constantly zapping and are able to follow different story lines from various programmes at the same time. When you find something interesting you can choose if you stay and watch it which is exactly how it is with my eggcubism.”

The eggcubism works consist mainly of human portraits. During their evolution, humans developed a complex ability to recognize the human face and its subtle changes and differences. That, and the fact that the portraits confront the viewer because they seem to be looking as well as following you, is what makes the human face a continuous source of inspiration for Enno de Kroon. In his recent combined double portraits, which show multiple people, he develops a three way relationship between the viewer and the figures. As the viewer you wonder just who is looking at whom.

Enno de Kroon still has a long list of ideas. Some piled up and stuck together, egg cartons flung around the studio, ready to be painted. And an impressive large work in progress, consisting of some 80 egg cartons, is there on the wall.

"This new work is inspired by my daughters first schooldays, it will depict a loud and messy classroom full of kids. The sales so far have given me the opportunity and freedom to keep experimenting. I could never just make variations on the same theme.”

His work comes enclosed in these boxes with text written in three languages:

For more information about Enno, please see his flicker site at THIS url.

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Stacy Alexander