Hendrik de Vries (1896-1989)

21 June 2006

From 23 June to 1 October 2006, the Groninger Museum will present twenty-two drawings by De Ploeg artist Hendrik de Vries in the Print Gallery of the Museum. The drawings mainly cover themes such as landscapes and female dancers.

De Vries was a self-taught artist. When creating a work, he did not formulate a plan or make a draft study or sketch. Most drawings were created in short periods of sudden inspiration in which he generated forty of fifty drawings. Hendrik de Vries became a member of the De Ploeg artists’ association in September 1929. He wrote several important introductions for group exhibitions, but as a painter and draughtsman he occupied an exceptional position. The De Ploeg artists always took reality as the basis of their paintings, but De Vries always used his imagination.

In the period from 1924 to 1936, De Vries took annual holiday trips to Spain where he came into contact with dance music and songs that would have a major impact on his graphic art. He had much contact with the gypsies in Spain and their world was a source of inspiration to him. Especially the gypsy girls and women fascinated him. At home, he drew these gypsy women, mainly as dancers. Hendrik de Vries worked on the basis of his thoughts and recollections, and he also drew Spanish landscapes in this way.

To many, Hendrik de Vries is primarily renowned for his poems. Nevertheless, his drawings will not seem alien, as his visual work tends to be an extension of his literary work. De Vries was also inspired by a dream world full of secrets, and his work leaves much to the imagination. In one of his compilations he reflects a world as a child sees it, the real and the fantasy world cannot be separated, it is a world full of terrible hazards. There are taboos, but the child cannot resist seeking danger, and the end of the story is never told. One interesting statement by Hendrik de Vries is as follows:

‘People should not seek any literary intention behind my drawings. A drawing or painting is never illustrative or symbolic.’

A biography of Hendrik de Vries by author Jan van der Vegt will be published by J.M. Meulenhoff on 22 September 2006.

Note for the editor
Exhibition co-ordinator: Susan Smelt
For additional information, please contact: Josee Selbach, jselbach@groningermuseum.nl, +31 (0)50-3666555, www.groningermuseum.nl