Siemen Dijkstra (1968) lives and works in the village of Dwingeloo, in Drenthe in the Netherlands; here he produces spectacular coloured woodcuts in which he seeks to ‘capture on paper the spatial experience of a landscape.’
These are ‘fisheye’ prints, laden with plants and leaves, ripples and grass. But alongside all the details, Dijkstra never loses sight of the global image: light piercing the vegetation, colours that harmonise, the slightly misty atmosphere in the distance.
The technique of reduction woodcut (à bois perdu) that he uses entails each layer of colour being cut out separately from a single piece of wood, then printed successively on the paper. With his large editions sometimes built up out of 10 to 18 colours, the artist evokes, inside his studio, an eloquent world beyond his four walls. ‘What I should really love to do is to be able to reproduce the scents of the outside world’, he says. His prints smell of printing ink, of course, but with the cut-out forms and the printed colours, he is able to suggest light and the sky, the earth and vegetation in masterly fashion.
In the seven exhibition rooms allotted to him at the Fondation Custodia, a selection of Dijkstra’s very best coloured woodcuts is offered, all dating from the past twenty-five years, along with drawings, gouaches and watercolour paintings by his hand.
His work is based upon his acute sense of the history of the landscape he depicts. In his view, the organisations for the protection of nature are mistaken in their attempts to create an idealised landscape: the landscape of Drenthe is unique because the authentic heaths and peat bogs jostle with the agricultural and forested lands of the twentieth century – which have themselves now become a kind of nature. Siemen Dijkstra illustrates this diversity.
The Drenthe landscape is Dijkstra’s main subject, but in Paris representations of other parts of the Netherlands are also on show, as well as drawings and prints executed during (or immediately after) travels in Scandinavia, India and France. At the centre of the exhibition, by way of an intermezzo, can be found drawings of dead animals: birds killed by crashing into a window or a windscreen, rats and mice caught by a cat, weasels, moles and hedgehogs and, less frequently, a stone marten or a squirrel. Still-lifes of fur and feathers.
Fondation Custodia – Collection Frits Lugt
121, rue de Lille
75007 Paris, France