Siemen Dijkstra

Dutch, Den Helder 1968

Siemen Dijkstra is one of a number of young graphic artists in the Netherlands. He captures Dutch (mostly from his home province of Drenthe) and Danish landscapes in detailed color woodcuts. These realistic, colorful graphic prints are personal snapshots of vast, often empty landscapes that seem untouched by time.

When he was a young child, Dijkstra moved to the Southwest of the Dutch province of Drenthe.  From a young age, he accompanied his father, an amateur archaeologist, on expeditions looking for archaeological stone tools. What began as exciting expeditions later turned into a source of inspiration in his life as an artist. At first, this world of discoveries was seen in his drawings and watercolors, later it turned up in his color woodcuts. The high quality of these wood­cuts made him known to a large public quite soon after finishing his formal training.

Between 1986 and 1991 Dijkstra was trained as an artist at the Art Academy Minerva in Groningen. He majored in illus­tration and graphic arts. One of his teachers was Wim van Veen, who taught him 'wood­cutting by reduction'. Dijkstra still uses this method of making color woodcuts, which has become typical of his work. Woodcutting by means of reduction is a form of die-stamp or relief printing. The process involves cutting increasing amounts from the same piece of wood. Dijkstra often uses eight up to twenty (!) printings, adding a dif­ferent color to the print in every printing.

Dijkstra is inspired not only by his own surroundings in Drenthe, but also by land­scapes in Scandinavia. The Danish Baltic Sea and the Norwegian Barents Sea, for instance, are ancient landscapes in which

Siemen Dijkstra feels at home. His ex­amples are, amongst others, the Danish painters Johannes Larsen (1867-1961) and Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916). These artists inspired him by the way in which they portrayed their Denmark in symbolic landscapes at the beginning of the last century.

In some places the 'genius loci', the spirit of the place, greatly inspires the artist. His work is a search for the genius loci, and in fact a search for the essence of the landscape, unrestricted by the aspect of time. Dijkstra can be touched deeply by the soul of such places by means of for instance light or beauty. He wishes to penetrate into the invisible, metaphysical world of the place that summons this emotion. These are always places in which human activity took place over the centuries, such as ancient roads or (prehistoric) burial sites with an almost sacred character.

This search, combined with his incredible technique, has made Siemen Dijkstra into one of the most important Dutch contemporary graphic artists.
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