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Friday, 22 February 2013

Airbrushed from Art History: Henk Krijger

Henk Krijger was part of two significant art networks:

"Krijger was not alone in his criticisms of the Reformed tradition. During the summer of 1935 he met the christian poet Hein de Bruin. This man, too, felt a burden on his heart for the christian community of which he was a member. This community choked the life out its artistic members with theological debate and with demands for dogmatic orthodoxy. These two men were not alone as christian artists. They in turn were part of a larger group, a group of christian writers, W.G. van der Hulst, Anne de Vries, and Jan H. de Groot. Since the early nineteen hundreds there had been a christian writers association. Within this group there was much debate about the nature of christian art, the possibility of a christian artistic style, and the relationship between the christian artist, the church, and the world. Those who maintained the antithesis [that Christians were to cultivate a lifestyle of their own] said there should be a christian style and, of course, those who disagreed claimed otherwise ...

Following the war Krijger joined the christian writers association. As member of the association he wrote short stories, reviews of art exhibitions and essays for their journal, Ontmoeting. He also published a novel entitled De Witte Duiven. in the visual arts he worked freelance and as a bookdesigner. As bookdesigner he won several prizes for his outstanding work."

"September 1969 the Institute for Christian Art opened in Chicago, Illinois not as an art school but as an organisation that brought trained or accomplished artists together under a master-artist to work christianly in the arts. This arrangement was modelled along the lines of a medieval guild. It was thought that a workshop would facilitate a communal effort in the arts which was considered vital if a christian artistic presence was to be attained in a predominantly secular culture ...

When Henk Krijger was approached by Calvin Seerveld and Mary Steenland, he ... wanted to do 'free art,' unencumbered by patrons and the limits of commissions. The Institute of Christian Art offered [this] opportunity ...

Speaking out of his Dutch Calvinist upbringing, Henk Krijger believed that art was done in the service of God and His Kingdom, but he was not dogmatic about its content. It certainly was not limited to scenes from the Bible nor was it to be primarily dogmatically correct. It was to be good art; art that was informed by the formal elements and principles that govern the production of art. Therefore, according to Krijger, the christian artist was to be a competent craftsman; a craftsman who did not just copy the natural world (for that was plagiarizing God's work) but who created works of imagination."

"In the summer 1971 the Institute of Christian Art moved ... to downtown Toronto, Canada. A core of young artists moved with Henk to studios set up in a basement on Richmond Street, and with the indefatigable efforts of Willem Hart they became Patmos Workshop and Gallery ... [Krijger] followed up the major painting of The Annunciation (1971) with other works truly worthy of the name "Patmos" - visionary, troubled, complicatedly in the world but not of it."

"Krijger's art making demonstrates specific directives helpful for developing young artists. First, as a pre-war modern man, Krijger understood and worked within his location in history. His choice of a modern expressionistic form provided the format for his visual discussion of creation. Second, a play of the imagination permeates Krijger's artistry. His emphasis upon the intuitive and the emotive allowed his imagination to inventively conceive imagery as we observe, for example, in the works That night the moon was completely different (1970) and the Apocalyptic fluteplayer (1971). And third, he understood well the struggle of the Christian who saw his calling to be that of artist. He served God in his art making. Tragically, he enjoyed neither the strong support of his christian community nor the support of those in his contemporary artistic environment."

(Jan De Bree, Calvin Seervald and Mary Leigh Morbey in Hommage √° Senggih: A Retrospective of Henk Krijger in North America)

Artists exhibiting at the Patmos Gallery have included: Larry AckermanDavid Alexander, Nancy de Boni, Anne BoyleKlaas Hart, Willem HartJanis Pozzi-Johnson, Edward Kellogg, Edward KnippersJake Mol, Chris Stoffel Overvoorde, Wayne PetersonTheodore PrescottJack S. Vander Wal.

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Bill Fay - Be Not So Fearful.

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