karlyn   de   jongh:   for   over   50   years   you   work   with   nature   as   content   and concept   of   your   art.   partly   you   make   works,   such   as   the   earth-rubbings,   in which   you   show   nature   as   it   is.   with   your   text-work,   which   we   will   mainly speak   about   in   this   interview,   you   use   words   to   describe   life.   nature   is.   you want to communicate. as an artist, you clearly want to transfer a message. herman   de   vries:   yes,   that   is   true.   although   i   cannot   tell   you   exactly   what that   message   is.   my   work   is   so   versatile   that   it   is   difficult   to   clearly   say   what it   is   about.   years   ago   in   the   netherlands,   there   were   a   few   sceptics.   they then   said:   "what   is   this   de   vries   doing   now?"   that   is   not   a   compliment.   i myself   once   said:   "next   week   i   will   have   my   own   group   exhibition."   my works   may   look   very   different,   but   they   have   to   do   with   each   other   and   can also exist side by side. at   the   moment,   i   have   many   exhibitions.   for   me   that   completes   the   work.   the studio,   that   is   the   place   where   i   make   the   work.   but   if   the   work   is   not   seen,   it is not complete. communication is essential. it   is   about   conveying   the   aspect   of   reality,   i   think.   what   is   art?   art   is   a   visual formulation   that   contributes   to   awareness   or   becoming   aware.   that   is   my definition   of   visual   art.   it   is   a   wide   field.   the   calligraphic   work   for   example. those    are    works    that    i    make    boom-boom-boom    [de    vries    makes    hand movements]   with   pieces   of   burned   wood.   i   like   to   do   that   in   the   evening, when   i   do   not   have   much   concentration   any   more.   i   like   to   go   naked   into   the studio   in   the   barn.   there   is   a   piece   of   paper   hanging   on   the   wall   and   there are   a   few   pieces   of   burned   wood   in   cartons.   i   look   at   what   wood   is   there,   sit down,   concentrate   and   then   spontaneously   take   a   piece   of   wood:   bang, pang! and then it's done. two   years   ago   i   had   an   exhibition   in   schiedam,   netherlands.   in   one   of   the rooms   there   was   a   six-meter-long   wall.   on   that   wall   i   made   a   drawing.   the action   was   filmed.   it   took   36,   maybe   38   seconds   to   make   the   drawing.   then it was done. very important is the spontaneity. if   i   stop   or   hesitate   for   a   moment,   it   is   over.   then   i   make   a   mistake.   then   i   do   something.   with   such   a   drawing   that   i   made   for   schiedam,   i   cannot   speak about „making“ or „doing“; it happens. kdj:   you   are   sitting,   looking   at   a   piece   of   paper   or   surface.   and   at   a   certain moment   "it   happens":   you   get   up   and   let   the   drawing   happen.   now!   are   you waiting for the right moment? is there such a thing as a right moment? hdv:   that's   it.   usually   i   do   not   have   a   concept   of   what   i   want   to   do   exactly. except that i took a piece of burnt wood. kdj:   that   seems   to   have   something   to   do   with   zen.   as   far   as   i   know,   the observation in zen meditation is without words, it is about letting it happen. hdv:   let   it   happen.   yes,   that   of   course   also   strongly   influenced   japanese martial   arts.   with   martial   arts,   you   have   to   let   things   happen.   you   should   not think about it, because then you have already lost. you must be direct. kdj:   a   video   made   by   your   son   vince   de   vries   shows   how   you   write   the   word " joy ".   during   such   a   moment   in   which   the   drawing   "happens",   does   the   word you   write   spontaneously   come   up   in   your   mind?   perhaps   similar   as   when you   are   collecting   leaves,   and   a   certain   leaf   catches   the   eye?   is   that   similar when choosing words? or was the word already present in your thoughts?
hdv:   that   video   was   very   difficult   for   me   because   it   had   to   be   made   in   parts. i   had   to   stop   in   between,   otherwise   it   did   not   work.   normally,   i   cannot   do something   so   spontaneously   as   organized.   vince   has   done   a   great   job cutting   the   video,   because   you   do   not   see   that   as   a   viewer   and   the   video gives a good idea of how i make those works. actually,   i   have   thought   about   the   word   extensively.   they   are   chosen   words. there are words and concepts that i like to work with. joy is one of them. kdj:   joy ,   all    or   part ,   in   your   drawings   you   write   those   words   over   and   over again. how do you see this act of writing? hdv:   it   works   like   a   mantra.   i   cannot   think   about   it,   then   i   write   another   word. i have to stay with: all all all all all all kdj:   on   one   of   the   walls   of   your   biennale   exhibition   in   2015,   you   wrote    ways to   be   all   ways   to   be ...   these   are   words   that   often   occur   in   your   work. depending   on   where   you   make   a   pause,   the   meaning   changes,   there   are different   possibilities   to   interpret   the   text.   the   text   says   so   much,   and   that with those few words. hdv:   that   is   a   very   important   and   central   text   for   me.   it   originated   on   the swayambhunath,    a    hill    next    to    kathmandu,    nepal,    on    which    a    buddhist monastery   stands.   in   the   monastery   i   heard   the   monks   sing   mantras.   i   liked this   idea   of   mantra   so   much   that   i   had   the   text   „ways   to   be   all   ways   to   be“ printed   in   kathmandu.   the   booklet   has   a   separate   centre   page   so   that   you can   change   the   text   over   and   over   again.   to   be.   to   be   all.   ways   to   be   to   be. to   be   to   be   ways.   you   can   create   all   these   possibilities.   i   find   that   very beautiful. kdj:   you   say   "mantra".   mantra   indicates   a   singing,   something   lyrical.   the sound,   the   pronouncing   makes   the   words   live.   is   it   important   for   you   to speak   the   words   out   loud?   that   it   is   not   just   words   written   by   you,   but   that   it lives by pronouncing and becomes a part of the person who pronounces it? hdv:   i   think   that   it   is   primarily   about   the   meaning   of   the   words.   actually   it   is very   nice   if   you   would   speak   the   text   and   could   hear   it   at   the   same   time.   i can   make   an   lp   with   that!“to   be   all   ways   to   be”   i   always   keep   in   mind   when   i am   not   doing   well.   there   is   no   way   around   the   consequences   of   my   own text.   they   are   a   kind   of   existential   key   words.   those   words   or   expressions come   to   me   again   and   again.   such   a   small   collection   of   words   is   actually   a complete philosophy. thinking   is   something   diffuse.   visual   art   is   interesting   for   me   because   you can   express   things   that   you   cannot   express   in   verbal   language.   i   use   the words   that   appear   in   my   text   works   as   a   sort   of   distillate.   they   come   forth out   of   the   diffusivity   of   thought,   from   there   these   expressions   emerge   - usually   a   word   or   a   few   words   -   which   in   my   eyes   have   a   strong   formulating power.   and   which   are   also   representatives   of   an   important   aspect   of   my thinking. eschenau, germany 23.11.2017 excerpt of an interview by karlyn de jongh
herman de vries language is alive, so also always changing. i can use a word in another context and so sometimes the use is uncommon. language is a field of living creativeness. keep it living! be a part!
karlyn   de   jongh:   for   over   50   years   you   work   with   nature   as   content   and concept   of   your   art.   partly   you   make   works,   such   as   the   earth-rubbings,   in which   you   show   nature   as   it   is.   with   your   text-work,   which   we   will   mainly speak   about   in   this   interview,   you   use   words   to   describe   life.   nature   is.   you want to communicate. as an artist, you clearly want to transfer a message. herman   de   vries:   yes,   that   is   true.   although   i   cannot   tell   you   exactly   what that   message   is.   my   work   is   so   versatile   that   it   is   difficult   to   clearly   say   what it   is   about.   years   ago   in   the   netherlands,   there   were   a   few   sceptics.   they then   said:   "what   is   this   de   vries   doing   now?"   that   is   not   a   compliment.   i myself   once   said:   "next   week   i   will   have   my   own   group   exhibition."   my works   may   look   very   different,   but   they   have   to   do   with   each   other   and   can also exist side by side. at   the   moment,   i   have   many   exhibitions.   for   me   that   completes   the   work.   the studio,   that   is   the   place   where   i   make   the   work.   but   if   the   work   is   not   seen,   it is not complete. communication is essential. it   is   about   conveying   the   aspect   of   reality,   i   think.   what   is   art?   art   is   a   visual formulation   that   contributes   to   awareness   or   becoming   aware.   that   is   my definition   of   visual   art.   it   is   a   wide   field.   the   calligraphic   work   for   example. those    are    works    that    i    make    boom-boom-boom    [de    vries    makes    hand movements]   with   pieces   of   burned   wood.   i   like   to   do   that   in   the   evening, when   i   do   not   have   much   concentration   any   more.   i   like   to   go   naked   into   the studio   in   the   barn.   there   is   a   piece   of   paper   hanging   on   the   wall   and   there are   a   few   pieces   of   burned   wood   in   cartons.   i   look   at   what   wood   is   there,   sit down,   concentrate   and   then   spontaneously   take   a   piece   of   wood:   bang, pang! and then it's done. two   years   ago   i   had   an   exhibition   in   schiedam,   netherlands.   in   one   of   the rooms   there   was   a   six-meter-long   wall.   on   that   wall   i   made   a   drawing.   the action   was   filmed.   it   took   36,   maybe   38   seconds   to   make   the   drawing.   then it was done. very important is the spontaneity. if   i   stop   or   hesitate   for   a   moment,   it   is   over.   then   i   make   a   mistake.   then   i   do   something.   with   such   a   drawing   that   i   made   for   schiedam,   i   cannot   speak about „making“ or „doing“; it happens. kdj:   you   are   sitting,   looking   at   a   piece   of   paper   or   surface.   and   at   a   certain moment   "it   happens":   you   get   up   and   let   the   drawing   happen.   now!   are   you waiting for the right moment? is there such a thing as a right moment? hdv:   that's   it.   usually   i   do   not   have   a   concept   of   what   i   want   to   do   exactly. except that i took a piece of burnt wood. kdj:   that   seems   to   have   something   to   do   with   zen.   as   far   as   i   know,   the observation in zen meditation is without words, it is about letting it happen. hdv:   let   it   happen.   yes,   that   of   course   also   strongly   influenced   japanese martial   arts.   with   martial   arts,   you   have   to   let   things   happen.   you   should   not think about it, because then you have already lost. you must be direct. kdj:   a   video   made   by   your   son   vince   de   vries   shows   how   you   write   the   word " joy ".   during   such   a   moment   in   which   the   drawing   "happens",   does   the   word you   write   spontaneously   come   up   in   your   mind?   perhaps   similar   as   when you   are   collecting   leaves,   and   a   certain   leaf   catches   the   eye?   is   that   similar when choosing words? or was the word already present in your thoughts?
hdv:   that   video   was   very   difficult   for   me   because   it   had   to   be   made   in   parts. i   had   to   stop   in   between,   otherwise   it   did   not   work.   normally,   i   cannot   do something   so   spontaneously   as   organized.   vince   has   done   a   great   job cutting   the   video,   because   you   do   not   see   that   as   a   viewer   and   the   video gives a good idea of how i make those works. actually,   i   have   thought   about   the   word   extensively.   they   are   chosen   words. there are words and concepts that i like to work with. joy is one of them. kdj:   joy ,   all    or   part ,   in   your   drawings   you   write   those   words   over   and   over again. how do you see this act of writing? hdv:   it   works   like   a   mantra.   i   cannot   think   about   it,   then   i   write   another   word. i have to stay with: all all all all all all kdj:   on   one   of   the   walls   of   your   biennale   exhibition   in   2015,   you   wrote    ways to   be   all   ways   to   be ...   these   are   words   that   often   occur   in   your   work. depending   on   where   you   make   a   pause,   the   meaning   changes,   there   are different   possibilities   to   interpret   the   text.   the   text   says   so   much,   and   that with those few words. hdv:   that   is   a   very   important   and   central   text   for   me.   it   originated   on   the swayambhunath,    a    hill    next    to    kathmandu,    nepal,    on    which    a    buddhist monastery   stands.   in   the   monastery   i   heard   the   monks   sing   mantras.   i   liked this   idea   of   mantra   so   much   that   i   had   the   text   „ways   to   be   all   ways   to   be“ printed   in   kathmandu.   the   booklet   has   a   separate   centre   page   so   that   you can   change   the   text   over   and   over   again.   to   be.   to   be   all.   ways   to   be   to   be. to   be   to   be   ways.   you   can   create   all   these   possibilities.   i   find   that   very beautiful. kdj:   you   say   "mantra".   mantra   indicates   a   singing,   something   lyrical.   the sound,   the   pronouncing   makes   the   words   live.   is   it   important   for   you   to speak   the   words   out   loud?   that   it   is   not   just   words   written   by   you,   but   that   it lives by pronouncing and becomes a part of the person who pronounces it? hdv:   i   think   that   it   is   primarily   about   the   meaning   of   the   words.   actually   it   is very   nice   if   you   would   speak   the   text   and   could   hear   it   at   the   same   time.   i can   make   an   lp   with   that!“to   be   all   ways   to   be”   i   always   keep   in   mind   when   i am   not   doing   well.   there   is   no   way   around   the   consequences   of   my   own text.   they   are   a   kind   of   existential   key   words.   those   words   or   expressions come   to   me   again   and   again.   such   a   small   collection   of   words   is   actually   a complete philosophy. thinking   is   something   diffuse.   visual   art   is   interesting   for   me   because   you can   express   things   that   you   cannot   express   in   verbal   language.   i   use   the words   that   appear   in   my   text   works   as   a   sort   of   distillate.   they   come   forth out   of   the   diffusivity   of   thought,   from   there   these   expressions   emerge   - usually   a   word   or   a   few   words   -   which   in   my   eyes   have   a   strong   formulating power.   and   which   are   also   representatives   of   an   important   aspect   of   my thinking. eschenau, germany 23.11.2017 excerpt of an interview by karlyn de jongh
herman de vries language is alive, so also always changing. i can use a word in another context and so sometimes the use is uncommon. language is a field of living creativeness. keep it living! be a part!
karlyn   de   jongh:   for   over   50   years   you   work   with   nature   as   content   and concept   of   your   art.   partly   you   make   works,   such   as   the   earth-rubbings,   in which   you   show   nature   as   it   is.   with   your   text-work,   which   we   will   mainly speak   about   in   this   interview,   you   use   words   to   describe   life.   nature   is.   you want to communicate. as an artist, you clearly want to transfer a message. herman   de   vries:   yes,   that   is   true.   although   i   cannot   tell   you   exactly   what that   message   is.   my   work   is   so   versatile   that   it   is   difficult   to   clearly   say   what it   is   about.   years   ago   in   the   netherlands,   there   were   a   few   sceptics.   they then   said:   "what   is   this   de   vries   doing   now?"   that   is   not   a   compliment.   i myself   once   said:   "next   week   i   will   have   my   own   group   exhibition."   my works   may   look   very   different,   but   they   have   to   do   with   each   other   and   can also exist side by side. at   the   moment,   i   have   many   exhibitions.   for   me   that   completes   the   work. the   studio,   that   is   the   place   where   i   make   the   work.   but   if   the   work   is   not seen, it is not complete. communication is essential. it   is   about   conveying   the   aspect   of   reality,   i   think.   what   is   art?   art   is   a   visual formulation   that   contributes   to   awareness   or   becoming   aware.   that   is   my definition   of   visual   art.   it   is   a   wide   field.   the   calligraphic   work   for   example. those    are    works    that    i    make    boom-boom-boom    [de    vries    makes    hand movements]   with   pieces   of   burned   wood.   i   like   to   do   that   in   the   evening, when   i   do   not   have   much   concentration   any   more.   i   like   to   go   naked   into the   studio   in   the   barn.   there   is   a   piece   of   paper   hanging   on   the   wall   and there   are   a   few   pieces   of   burned   wood   in   cartons.   i   look   at   what   wood   is there,   sit   down,   concentrate   and   then   spontaneously   take   a   piece   of   wood: bang, pang! and then it's done. two   years   ago   i   had   an   exhibition   in   schiedam,   netherlands.   in   one   of   the rooms   there   was   a   six-meter-long   wall.   on   that   wall   i   made   a   drawing.   the action   was   filmed.   it   took   36,   maybe   38   seconds   to   make   the   drawing.   then it was done. very important is the spontaneity. if   i   stop   or   hesitate   for   a   moment,   it   is   over.   then   i   make   a   mistake.   then   i   do   something.   with   such   a   drawing   that   i   made   for   schiedam,   i   cannot   speak about „making“ or „doing“; it happens. kdj:   you   are   sitting,   looking   at   a   piece   of   paper   or   surface.   and   at   a   certain moment   "it   happens":   you   get   up   and   let   the   drawing   happen.   now!   are   you waiting for the right moment? is there such a thing as a right moment? hdv:   that's   it.   usually   i   do   not   have   a   concept   of   what   i   want   to   do   exactly. except that i took a piece of burnt wood. kdj:   that   seems   to   have   something   to   do   with   zen.   as   far   as   i   know,   the observation in zen meditation is without words, it is about letting it happen. hdv:   let   it   happen.   yes,   that   of   course   also   strongly   influenced   japanese martial   arts.   with   martial   arts,   you   have   to   let   things   happen.   you   should   not think about it, because then you have already lost. you must be direct. kdj:   a   video   made   by   your   son   vince   de   vries   shows   how   you   write   the   word " joy ".   during   such   a   moment   in   which   the   drawing   "happens",   does   the word   you   write   spontaneously   come   up   in   your   mind?   perhaps   similar   as when   you   are   collecting   leaves,   and   a   certain   leaf   catches   the   eye?   is   that similar   when   choosing   words?   or   was   the   word   already   present   in   your thoughts? hdv:   that   video   was   very   difficult   for   me   because   it   had   to   be   made   in   parts. i   had   to   stop   in   between,   otherwise   it   did   not   work.   normally,   i   cannot   do something   so   spontaneously   as   organized.   vince   has   done   a   great   job cutting   the   video,   because   you   do   not   see   that   as   a   viewer   and   the   video gives a good idea of how i make those works. actually,   i   have   thought   about   the   word   extensively.   they   are   chosen   words. there are words and concepts that i like to work with. joy is one of them. kdj:   joy ,   all    or   part ,   in   your   drawings   you   write   those   words   over   and   over again. how do you see this act of writing? hdv:   it   works   like   a   mantra.   i   cannot   think   about   it,   then   i   write   another   word. i have to stay with: all all all all all all kdj:   on   one   of   the   walls   of   your   biennale   exhibition   in   2015,   you   wrote    ways to   be   all   ways   to   be ...   these   are   words   that   often   occur   in   your   work. depending   on   where   you   make   a   pause,   the   meaning   changes,   there   are different   possibilities   to   interpret   the   text.   the   text   says   so   much,   and   that with those few words. hdv:   that   is   a   very   important   and   central   text   for   me.   it   originated   on   the swayambhunath,   a   hill   next   to   kathmandu,   nepal,   on   which   a   buddhist monastery   stands.   in   the   monastery   i   heard   the   monks   sing   mantras.   i   liked this   idea   of   mantra   so   much   that   i   had   the   text   „ways   to   be   all   ways   to   be“ printed   in   kathmandu.   the   booklet   has   a   separate   centre   page   so   that   you can   change   the   text   over   and   over   again.   to   be.   to   be   all.   ways   to   be   to   be. to   be   to   be   ways.   you   can   create   all   these   possibilities.   i   find   that   very beautiful. kdj:   you   say   "mantra".   mantra   indicates   a   singing,   something   lyrical.   the sound,   the   pronouncing   makes   the   words   live.   is   it   important   for   you   to speak   the   words   out   loud?   that   it   is   not   just   words   written   by   you,   but   that   it lives by pronouncing and becomes a part of the person who pronounces it? hdv:   i   think   that   it   is   primarily   about   the   meaning   of   the   words.   actually   it   is very   nice   if   you   would   speak   the   text   and   could   hear   it   at   the   same   time.   i can   make   an   lp   with   that!“to   be   all   ways   to   be”   i   always   keep   in   mind   when   i am   not   doing   well.   there   is   no   way   around   the   consequences   of   my   own text.   they   are   a   kind   of   existential   key   words.   those   words   or   expressions come   to   me   again   and   again.   such   a   small   collection   of   words   is   actually   a complete philosophy. thinking   is   something   diffuse.   visual   art   is   interesting   for   me   because   you can   express   things   that   you   cannot   express   in   verbal   language.   i   use   the words   that   appear   in   my   text   works   as   a   sort   of   distillate.   they   come   forth out   of   the   diffusivity   of   thought,   from   there   these   expressions   emerge   - usually   a   word   or   a   few   words   -   which   in   my   eyes   have   a   strong   formulating power.   and   which   are   also   representatives   of   an   important   aspect   of   my thinking. eschenau, germany 23.11.2017 excerpt of an interview by karlyn de jongh
herman de vries language is alive, so also always changing. i can use a word in another context and so sometimes the use is uncommon. language is a field of living creativeness. keep it living! be a part!