Current Exhibitions

Recent works




Texts about the work of Juul Kraijer

Texts by the artist

Curriculum Vitae




This site was designed and created by bomdesign:

The copyright of the artworks is the property of the artist.




Over the past twelve years I devoted myself entirely to drawing, making a total of two hundred and twenty drawings. The present book contains a selection of thirty-nine of them, dating from the last six years. My work is marked by monomania. Unlike those artists who from time to time venture to take a new turning, I seem to be the type of artist who recognizes a small field as his or her domain, to be explored in depth and detail. In the drawings made during those twelve years, the main principles remain the same. Changes do not occur in the form of an abrupt break; instead, they appear as gradual shifts, leaving the core intact, like landscapes at the turn of the season.

Some of the changes came about in spite of myself. The drawings became less linear, angular and gauche, and increasingly more modelled with soft-woolly, silver-grey tones. In that respect, they became more classical, although drawing in a classical way is not particularly my preference.

The drawings are all done on the same kind of paper and in charcoal or - when colour is needed - pastel. Wiping and rubbing are occasionally used as techniques in their own right, just as important as drawing proper. Traces of earlier positions of heads and limbs are still visible, showing how the bodies obeyed the choreographer's guiding hand. In all drawings, the bounds of what is anatomically possible are exceeded. The female body, which in some of my drawings verges on androgynous, is remodelled into simple and elegant calligraphy - unnatural yet credible. The guiding principles in making these drawings are conciseness and reservation. To my feeling, these principles are not of my own choice; they seem to be dictated by the drawings themselves. Every drawing contains no more than what is strictly necessary. Everything that could provide time and space coordinates is absent.

The drawings are decidedly not representations of situations existing in reality. Rather, they are incarnations of frames of mind. The bodies are nude but neutral - vehicle rather than flesh. They remain in the domain of the spirit.

In the older work, all postures are still, and countenances unmoved. There is no suggestion of movement or spontaneous expression - just an intensely concentrated posture which seems to have been adopted for eternity, as being the most meaningful one. More recent work shows figures immersed in complete self-absorption: profound sleep, unconsciousness, or death. The postures in some of the drawings - for instance, that in which a figure is composed of flocks of hundreds of migratory birds - are akin to that of Maria in a state of swoon in paintings representing the 'descent from the cross'. Occasionally, instead of an absence of time there is momentarily frozen time. Postures display a tension like that of compressed springs; the absence of movement seems to be but the lull before the storm. Faces also tend to become more expressive. Drawings belonging to this group were preceded by a series containing creeping and lying figures, their bodies covered with volcanic landscapes. Apart from suggesting plasticity, these landscapes are also patterns on the bodies. In this series might also be included a drawing made after a stay in the Himalayas in 1999 - one of the few to refer to a concrete experience - in which the body is filled with glaciers and faŤades of mountains. Whether or not the landscape in this drawing is spatial is equivocal. Two different scales, that of the body and that of the landscape, coexist. Less equivocal are the patterns of tattoos covering the skins of some figures. However, although these patterns are just linear and therefore less illusionistic, they, too, confuse the eye by displaying multiple image layers. Initially the tattoos were drawn in ink. In later drawings they were incised into the paper itself by means of a surgical knife; thus, the drawings enter the realm of the third dimension.

Drawings featuring swarms and flocks are the most recent. Here the shape of the body partly dissolves into a pattern of vibrating particles. Such decomposition of a form which is experienced as absolute appears again, though in a rather different manner, in drawings of mosquitos settled on faces. The red transparent bodies of the mosquitos are full and drop-shaped. As winged drops of blood they will soon spread. Transience is a permanent companion.

The drawings elude traditional iconography. In its place, use is made of physical sensations granting access to the inner mind. Human bodies are joined to animals or elements of a landscape. This fusion of incompatible entities has a matter-of-course calmness in spite of being enforced and creates a short-circuit in reason. For a short moment in time meaning can be perceived in a different way. This mechanism is analogous to that of imagery in language. Each drawing contains a trope: a simile or a metaphor.

In relation to the drawings, the present text should also be perceived as a simile, and no more than that.