Ruiten, stroken, cirkel en gezicht
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.
This engraving by the Dutch artist Anton Heyboer was made with the use of two separate zinc plates which were printed one below the other with a small space in between. The four elements from the title can be seen in the lower print. Crisscrossing lines form a pattern of diamonds. On the left there are three coloured bars: black, white and a brownish red. In the middle there is a circle. The top right corner contains a square shape with rounded corners which could be seen as a face, also because of the marks which have been scratched into it. The top print joins the lower print on the right side. On the left side, it is slightly indented. Various vertical lines from the bottom plate continue onto the top plate. In addition to the above-mentioned elements, both plates contain a number of inscriptions that are like drawings. The engraving was made in very roughly polished zinc and countless scratches are visible in the background.
Heyboer lived a very unconventional life. From the early 1960s he lived with four or five women and a large number of pets in very primitive conditions on a piece of land with a farmer’s shed. His aversion to what he considered an over-regulated western society could be explained to some extent by his earlier history when he spent part of his youth in Indonesia and Curaçao. In the Second World War he was captured by the Germans and was badly treated when he was put to work in a camp near Berlin.
After the war Heyboer started to draw. In the 1950s, after spending some time in a psychiatric institution, he developed a philosophical system which was translated in the imagery of his work. He produced diagrammatic work in which lines, numbers, simple human and animal figures, written text and planes of colour are all shown in different combinations. All these elements and the way in which they are interrelated are significant. The circle represents unity, harmony and completeness. In many cases it is divided into two and in this way symbolizes the unification of opposites often found in philosophy and religion. Heyboer was seeking a balance in pictorial contrasts, but also a balance between the hand and the head, intuition and reason. The Cobra artists felt a spiritual affinity with Heyboer and valued his curious working methods and lifestyle.
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