World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 169 - Wilco Kwerreveld

At the Open Studio Day of Art & Complex I saw large-sized silhouettes of birds in Wilco Kwerreveld's studio. They hung on the walls. There was a oystercatcher, a partridge-like, a bunting and a rook.

A few weeks later I am back in the studio and there are many surfboards on the ground, along and over each other. The silhouettes are still there. Wilco is working on sanding the outer layer of the surfboards. This has already happened with one board. It is then painted black as a blackboard and a feather is drawn on it with school chalk.

"I can make an installation, with the surfboards in blackboard chalk, in bird patterns, combined with the silhouettes along the wall. But maybe it will also be whales, I do not know yet." He is still in the 'searching phase'. "I never have an idea, always a suspicion. I'm going to start looking, then the process starts and at best I get something to deal with. I try to solve things. I never copy anything. I want to ask questions. Questions for myself and for those who watch. Then you can communicate. "


Wilco Kwerreveld slowly grows towards a certain shape. Those birds started with a tree trunk with a feather pattern. They were on view at Arte Concordia 2016, the outdoor exhibition on the Avenue Concordia. He shows me a picture. At the bottom of the tree trunk I see a round mirror with which you can see the surroundings. "The tree trunks with feathers on it formed the step to the silhouettes. I've been brooding on it for a long time. For a long time I have been busy with objects that I was going to scour, the outer layer off, to rid them of 'the first skin', like a bird in the moult. I was looking for pure forms, a 'scoured world', it was no longer about the 'thing in itself'. Sometimes I gave the objects a new, second skin. With those feathers, I gave the tree a certain lightness. It was very fragile. I have always been like that, even as a child, but now my formal language is slightly different. The sanding will definitely come back in my work. Now I'm scouring the surfboards. That's part of me. I have exhibited a lot with it. "

The hidden life of trees

We are on the 'upper floor' of his studio. On the table is the latest book by Peter Wohlleben 'The forest, Handbook for every forest walk'. Coincidentally, I read another book from Wohlleben, 'The hidden life of trees', a while ago. That was about how trees communicate with each other. Trees appear to have feelings and a memory. They take care of their old and sick neighbors. It gave me a whole new look at trees. Wilco Kwerreveld knows that for a long time. At the age of seven he regularly went into the woods. "That was in the Achterhoek. I went to watch / observe birds. I still do it. I have binoculars with me, sometimes more than one. I am not a 'bird watcher' who is searching for birds in groups. For me it is much more about being in the woods. Ideally I will sit still for two hours, observe and study the behavior of animals. I find it interesting to look at traces. Sometimes I place night cameras and if I play them later, I see a badger or other animal passing by. "

On the outside windows of his studio I saw 'Schors en Scheef' (bark and skewed), the name of the landscape architects' office where Wilco regularly realizes scenic projects. "I consider it as part of my artistry." He has a strong preference for the landscape, with alternating trees, meadows and bushes. It is the landscape of the Achterhoek and also of Twente, in the east of the Netherlands. "This landscape has stratifications. There are natural transitions and small animals can flee into blackberry bushes and other bushes. That in turn attracts the birds. "

Birds and people

He had shaped an area a few years ago, of which the client went bankrupt. It was already planted in a coulisse-like way. "It has been left behind. It is now a rough terrain full of twittering." Cities try to create green oases, but often do it 'too neatly', says Wilco. "You can combine nature and people in a city. I try to create organic landscapes, even along a highway. You see that nature also adapts. Oystercatchers search for their nest in the sand, but when the sand had already been forgiven, they found another habitat: gravel roofs. They dig a sort of dimple between the pebbles. I find that fascinating. "

Some birds imitate people. In the city they appear to whistle harder and sometimes even sing phone tunes. "By means of a little tune on a branch, a bird indicates his territory. He can hop on and move the territory with it. Sometimes territorial battles arise, very familiar in the human world. I think it is super fascinating. Sometimes the strongest wins, the other times the smartest, they use the group. All birds are fanatical, there are no born diplomats. "

People and birds have a lot in common. "Take the attitude you assume. Birds also have macho behavior. They are super wooers, like no other they can court someone." Bird sounds of which he is impressed are, among other things, that of the bittern, "a booming sound", the oriole in the forest "a short series of paired notes, like a flute", the goldfinches and the yellow wagtails. He shows me his drawings, among others of egrets with a yellow beak. He worked them out on a size of 1.50 x 1.50. It is a key work he says, among the works with feathers and the silhouettes as other key works.

Wilco Kwerreveld has lived in Rotterdam for about 20 years and has been with Kunst & Complex for 15 years. He studied at the AKI in Enschede.

Have fun in what you do

Finally, what is his philosophy? "I once heard it, and it also applies to myself:" Freedom is not doing what you want, but having fun in what you do." What I do gives me so much fun. That is my freedom."


1) Wilco Kwerreveld, 2) Diving swans, gouache, 40x60, 2018, 3) Wild swans, gouache, 40x60, 2016, 4) Egrets, gouache, 40x60, 2016, 5) Birds detail (right) 3x2m, cotton, feathers, wood 2017, 6) Birds, overview, 2017, 7) Rook, groot he, 2018, 8) Rook 3.5x1.5m, cotton, wood 2018, 9) 7) Rook detail1 3,5x1,5m, cotton, wood 2018, 10) Partridge, 3x2 m, cotton, wood, 2017, 11) Partridge detail 3x2m, cotton, wood 2017, 12) ZT 11 x 3.5 m wood, feathers, mirror 2015, 13) Z.T. 11 x 3.5 m wood, springs, mirror 2015, 14) Z.T. 11 x 3.5m wood, feathers, mirror 2015



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