Can you tell us something about your background as an artist?
Bob: «I graduated from the academy in Utrecht in 2015 and have been working for myself since 2019. In addition to making autonomous work, I also work as an illustrator. In this way, I can maintain my artistic practice without the use of subsidies. A recurring theme in my work is archaic Europe and the way people spiritually interacted with nature. I find their way of co-existing with nature inspiring and I try to convey this through my art. I do this by incorporating the often naive (in a positive sense) and pure style of the archaic people into my art. I mainly work with graphics, pencils, and wax crayons on thick and disordered surfaces. Those rough surfaces give me a handicap that forces me to simplify my style. Roughness, coincidence, margin of error, and the analog aspect are all part of my search for purity and authenticity. See it as my act of rebellion against the uniformity that is slowly but surely devouring the world! What I find important to mention is that I was born in Bennekom. A village on the Veluwe full of old sagas and legends. That’s where my fascination with mythology and antiquity was born. The woods still seem to whisper mysterious things in certain places. Even in the Netherlands, there is still magic to be found.»
Can you tell us something about the window painting?
«I was asked to do something with the Christmas theme. That’s why I immediately thought of pre-Christian midwinter celebrations! In ancient northern Europe, it was called Joelfeest or Midvinterblot. I got inspired by ancient traditions around the longest night of the year. Throughout Europe (actually the whole world) people used to get «into the skin» of animals, ancestors, or natural elements. This is expressed through masquerades, theater, or other spectacles. I think it’s important to emphasize these ancient festivals because it comes from a time when people could identify with nature rather than with a god «outside of nature». The figures I have drawn are loosely inspired by this theme.»
How did you experience the creation process?
«It was quite a challenge to draw on the windows. Usually, when I’m working on a wall, I first make a sketch on scale with a grid system. Then I draw that grid system on the wall so that I can make the drawing one-on-one. I can now tell that this is pretty difficult on a window! So I decided to make loose sketches, not even on scale, and just give it a try. And it worked! I have experienced this creative process as a success because I have learned something new. I now feel like making even more work on such a large scale!»