The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
Using very thinned black paint, Elly Strik painted a huge crow on a sheet of paper. His beak is open and pointing towards the ground. A light spot on the grey ground, immediately beneath the beak, suggests that this represents the crow’s warm breath. ‘Making the breath of a bird visible was the underlying principle behind these works’, confirms Elly Strik, referring to a series of works depicting birds. She says, ‘The work had to be this big in order to make something so immaterial into something visible and tangible,’ and, ‘The visible breath can activate the viewer, so to speak, and stimulate the recognition of possible new connections.’ It’s all about the contact between the viewer and the crow (its eye is looking at you), the viewer and the work. It’s about the energy enclosed within the work that leaps across to the visitors as they view. This way, the crow becomes more than just a crow. It asks questions or gets the viewers to ask their own questions. ‘To me, the panting crow has always been a form of consciousness that is concerned with an awareness of death; the crow is preheating the ground, as it were,’ says Elly Strik. Because breath simultaneously stands for life and a beginning, the panting crow holds within it a kind of cyclical thinking.
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