Centro Cultural Borges: "Ojo por Ojo" , November 2005
Erik Adriaan van der Grijn, born in the Netherlands, worked his formidable canvases throughout Western Europe before moving to New York and Buenos Aires a decade ago. Inspired throughout his life by hís social consciousness and spurred on by his sense of historie happenings and injustice often ignored or justified, he has split out his feelings on vast spaces, walls as he tenns them, fiercely yet lyrically painted in dominant and dominating yellow and black.
The cadmium yellows and dense blacks, with which he has brushed, sprayed and slapped for many years, connote the universality of awareness, danger and conflict that we all recognize. However, ever the optimist (in the long run), he sparingly, sometimes liberally, punctuates his works with an orangey red and celestial blue, symbols of the better times we covet and long for.
As a young artist of the 60’s, van der Grijn. a known as the “Yellow Feliow”, painted in the self named “hard edge realism” style, exemplified in the painting Train -Depot Doors. By limiting his artistic expression to straight liases and angles and simple palette, he sought, in his words, by means of extensive optical fields of form and contra form and repetition, to create a rhythm comparable to that of a Sebastian Bach fugue.
By the 1980’s however, his need for expression had taken him into abstract expressionism, a style which he continued through the 90’s.
The combination of the abstract (the felt but unseen) and the expressionist, often taking literal forros of photographs and drawings, including his personal obsession, his eyes (alread_y blind in one eye since birth, he lost his vision for nearly one year after an attack by street hoodlums in Amsterdam) fulfilled his vision at that time.
Most recently, needing to expand once again his manner of “seeing” the world-again his obsession with sight-he has merged, strikingly, these two highi_y differentiated styles into one.
To observe van der Grijn’s works without explanations is sufficient to feel their force; however, at times it is worthwhile to understand from where they came. In the early 1960’s, van der Grijn photographed, in Ireland, high walls painted yellow and black, declaring dangerous passages. He has painted these over the years, simplified hard edge, hauntingly abstract.
Nearly forty years later, in a 33 meter painting,-he is still reworking these walls, now in his hard edge/expressionist manner, to express the current dangerous passage between the extreme, allegedly religious, elements roaming the world and threatening whatever order there may be.