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A shape that represents nothing but says everything

In the non-figurative minimalist work of visual artist Kees van de Wal (Oirschot, 1967) we see shapes. Sometimes organic, often more or less geometric, lately inspired by the shape of flat-folded cardboard boxes. Shapes, residual shapes and composite shapes, almost always in a certain peace and tranquility.

Since his first exhibition in 2008, the work has evolved from abstract, tranquil landscapes to the visual language it is today. After the horizon disappeared from the landscapes, suggestions of clouds and vegetation were further abstracted into independent shapes with the right combination of tension and balance. When Van de Wal was no longer limited by the edges of the canvas, the first wall objects were created.

In search of the ultimate shape,
a shape that represents nothing,
but everything says.

In the past Van de Wal made objects from extruded polystyrene. When processing the material, many small dust particles are released, which is bad for health, and the material also produces a lot of waste. That is why Van de Wal started looking for an alternative in the summer of 2022. He started an experiment with working on corrugated cardboard from used packaging boxes. At first he copied the working method from polystyrene to cardboard. He folded the boxes into a flat surface, glued various layers together and sawed out shapes. Once working, Van de Wal was inspired by the shape of the flat-folded boxes.

‘I saw the shape of a box folded into a flat surface, I saw residual shapes, a punched-out handle, adhesive strips and score lines. The boxes have been used, goods have been packed and transported in them, folds and cracks have appeared, the cardboard has come ’to life’. Initially I wanted to use the cardboard as honestly as possible. Don’t make it more beautiful than it is. Later I started cutting the material more and recently, in addition to acrylic paint, I also use leftover alkyd paint to paint the cardboard.’

In his recent work, Van de Wal is guided by the materials received, the shape of the cardboard and the pots of paint. He does not make any sketches in advance, but forms an image in his head and gets to work. The cardboard is the starting point, Van de Wal adds his own visual language and use of color. In this way, each work acquires its own character in various phases, tranquil and informal. The result is – according to others – playful, cheerful and a bit contrary.

After a period in which Van de Wal made more organic shapes, geometry has returned to his work. Form/residual form, minimalism and stillness still play a major role. The use of the received material fits in the times of overconsumption, but above all it challenges the artist.

Van de Wal has exhibited in various galleries in Belgium, France and the Netherlands and his work is in many private collections.

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Kees van de Wal
Born in Oirschot, 1967. Lives and works in Zaltbommel.
Education

  • 1983 – 1987: Graphic Lyceum Eindhoven, aesthetic design;
  • 1990 – 2000: various courses: drawing / painting / etching / model drawing;
  • 2009 – 2014: Academy of Fine Arts, Arendonk, Painting, passed with honorable mention;
  • 2014 – 2016: Specialization degree Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Arendonk, passed with a Great distinction.

Others

Kees van de Wal in zijn atelier

Photo: Bommelerwaardgids/Marijke Verhoef, 2023.