The Alkema family came to live in the city of Groningen in 1913. Wobbe's father was a house painter there. Wobbe was apprenticed as a furniture maker and also took drawing lessons in the evenings at the ‘Avondvaktekenschool’. In 1919 he was enrolled at the art school Academie Minerva in Groningen for the summer course. After leaving the course in the second semester, he took engineering courses and drawing lessons with the sculptor Willem Valk. In 1922 he rented an attic floor as a studio together with Johan Faber and Jan van der Zee. Together they worked in an advertising agency: Het Atelier voor Artistieke Reclame (Workshop for Artistic Advertising).
In 1922 Alkema became a candidate member of De Ploeg. Through Jan Altink, Alkema was introduced to the Belgian art magazine ‘het Overzicht’. In this way, Alkema came into contact with constructivism, which appealed to him very much. In the summer 1924 he visited Antwerp and in the same year he became a designer at an architectural firm. In the summer of 1925, he visited Belgium again and established friendships with Belgian artists, among them the poet and writer Paul van Ostayen (1896-1928) whose work impressed him.
Alkema and De Ploeg
In November 1924 Alkema became a full member of De Ploeg. He played no major role in the society, partly having to do with the fact that he was a teetotaler but in particular because he found hardly any kindred spirits within De Ploeg. He only took part in one exhibition of De Ploeg. In 1925 he had to give up the attic and moved back in with his parents. In that year he also resigned his membership of De Ploeg. In January 1926 he again applied to be accepted as a working member, but this request was rejected by the general meeting. He would never become a member again.
Between 1925 and 1933, Alkema made paintings, graphics and collages. Work by him was printed in Belgian magazines. Between 1926 and 1930, work by him was printed with lighter background and in lighter colors. In 1930 and 1931 he made eight dry-needle etchings with lines referring to Kandinsky. Therafter Wobbe Alkema was no longer able to work due to his poor economic conditions and the imminent political situation. Only after the Second World War would he be able resume his work as an artist.
Text: Toos Boersema
Henk van Os, Wobbe Alkema en de Groninger Schilderkunst, Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff en Bouma’s Boekhuis, 1978. Cees Hofsteenge, De Ploeg 1918-1941, De hoogtijdagen. Groningen: Benjamin & Partners 1993. Doeke Sijens (red.), Wobbe Alkema, Het absolute, het heldere, catalogus bij de tentoonstelling 15 maart - 14 juni 2009. Groningen: Groninger Museum 2009. Adriaan Venema, De Ploeg 1918-1930, Baarn: Het Wereldvenster 1978.