Featured Artist

Boris de Beijer

Interview by Floor Kortman, Art Boris de Beijer, photos shot by Lonneke van der Palen

Boris de Beijer shows his colourfully patterned objects in our magazine and basement gallery this month. De Beijer, who graduated as a jewellery designer, developed a unique visual language by making works that are hard to peg as either ‘autonomous’ or ‘applied’ arts. With his self-made materials, he brings about surreal shapes and designs that perform a delicate balance at the intersection of these creative disciplines. Through this exhibition, De Beijer scrutinizes the contemporary relevance of his practice and works towards formulating the value and meaning of his new, futuristic objects.

boris de beijer

Who are you?

Boris de Beijer, 28, artist.

You graduated as a jewellery designer, what made you decide to move into other territories by making more autonomous objects

During my study at the Rietveld Academy, where I was trained to become a jewellery designer I developed an interest concerning art forms that are difficult to categorize within existing frameworks of both the ‘autonomous’ as well as the ‘applied’ disciplines. Looking at my practice there, I think I was more interested in the historic relevance of jewellery then in becoming a jewellery designer myself. I was interested in the pragmatic and symbolic value of objects and wearables, and I always cherished a deep fascination for occult and ritualistic objects and symbolism.

For me personally, having a lot of questions concerning the contemporary relevance of my practice, combined with my fascination for it’s history, and the overall hierarchical structures within the arts, I felt I couldn’t properly explore what I was capable of within my own discipline. The logic step was to start making works that balanced between those disciplinary boundaries. I realize now that most of the jewellery I made maybe wasn’t supposed to be worn. At least not by humans. I feel more comfortable working without feeling restricted by any sort of boundary.

Boris de Beijer Boris de Beijer

Can you tell something about the materials you work with; they seem to be quite unusual?

After following a workshop ‘How to work with resin’, I got hooked. Which might have been caused by the toxic fumes. I work mostly with 2 component liquid resins, and I love how aggressive its reaction is when the 2 components are put together. It gets extremely hot and some resins change colour just by curing. There is a short timespan in which one can work the resin while its liquid. This adds some excitement to it. You got one shot, so you have to get it right. The right colour, the right amount, or creating the right effect. I have been working with resins for years now, and I experimented a lot with different pigments and additives, so I developed my own spectrum of effects and tricks. I love the transformation of a relatively cheap material like resin into a new material, which immediately evokes connotations with more valuable and traditional materials such as minerals and crystals.

I think working in such a precise way with this material shows similarities with both painting and alchemy.

Boris de Beijer

Are the patterns and colours of your work inherent to these materials or do you create this somehow?

No, colouring and adding pigments and additives to the resin is one thing, but I excessively studied the behaviour of the material. What was most important in my older, smaller work was symmetry. Symmetry is an ancient and extremely elaborate concept. It’s about an agreement of proportions and balance, and it has been used as a tool to gain more understanding of aesthetics. Symmetry has been used in all sorts of civilizations, old and new, and in all sorts of artistic practices to add balance and beauty to objects, painting, buildings and sculptures. Think of Byzantine religious murals, Egyptian pyramids or Greek sculptors. In ancient Greek they even applied a symmetric system to judge someone’s beauty.

You’ve mentioned this is a kind of experimental phase in your work, because you’re moving from one thing onto another, do you have any idea where you’re going to end up?

I do not know where I am going to end up, but I do have a strong vision about the course I’d like my work to take. I think I’m still operating in the grey area between disciplines, which can feel a little lost. But its also exactly that sense of not knowing, or wanting to be a part of a certain category that creates opportunities and space for new and genuine ideas and works. I’d like to keep that open approach while following my plan/vision. Working towards an exhibition at Subbacultcha was a huge stimulus to take important new steps, but there are so many ideas, I honestly can’t wait to work on the next project.

Boris de Beijer Boris de Beijer

I see that the photographic representations of your work on the website are very creative and thought out. How important is this part of the process? Because you make 3-d objects, which then have to be translated to 2-d, how do you work with photographers and are the pictures just for representation or are they another part of the works?

There are a lot of important details going on in most of my works, so what always has been most important to me was clear, clean and almost clinical documentation. I get help from friends who are graphic designers or photographers like Julia Kunzi who designed my website and came up with original solutions to display works. I appreciate the positive effect that collaborations can have. It broadens and refreshes the way one perceives its own work or methods. For Subbacultcha I collaborated with the talented photographer Lonneke van de Palen. She had some great ideas on how to document my work. Things that I wouldn’t of have thought of. Representative communication/documentation is important, but its not my field so I seek out the help of professionals who I look up or relate to.

Boris de Beijer

Do you have any big plans for the future, is there anything exciting coming up?

Yes! Besides from having my own practice, I work closely together with my 2 friends/colleagues Adam Nillissen & Peter van de Es. Together we form the core of the initiative ‘Unfair Amsterdam’. Unfair Amsterdam is a platform that pleads and supports a new generation of artists. Last year in March we held our first event in the form of an art-fair at Loods6 in Amsterdam. In collaboration with Heske ten Cate from Mister Motley we selected 30 outstanding and talented artist coming from all disciplines and who graduated not longer then 5 years ago from the academy, and we asked them to make a solo-presentation with works that they hadn’t shown anywhere else yet. This way we showed what a generation, our generation has to offer. With over 30% of all the work sold, and the great feedback we got, it showed to be a successful platform.

This year we are doing it again. Bigger, better, more elaborate and with some slight changes in the program. I’d love to say more, but I can’t just yet. Keep your eyes out for us, and check our website for updates, news and more information about our initiative and history.

Boris de Beijer