2018. Introduction website by Anneke Oele (To the Dutch version)
Thoughts on a new website: 'This website is undergoing a
It's been a while since you would be able
to find peterspaans.nl on Google. As of now, the launch is
finally a fact. I have been walking around the website for a
month, enjoyed myself for hours. I have the feeling that I
still have not seen it all, so be warned.
For example: You can browse through all the books Peter has
ever made. Type in what you are looking for and it can be
found from the beginning of 1974 until now. And that's the
fun, after browsing through one book after the other, going
through time, you realize that everything is connected, the
circle is complete so to speak.
A project that Peter recently completed titled ‘The city as Catherdral’,
whereby the St. Jan van den Bosch is involved, has for
example, its origins in 1976, when Peter attended the art
academy in Den Bosch and the city council wanted to convert
the St. Jan into a parking garage. The drawing ‘Parking', can be found on the
website under Work From 1976.
Perusing quickly through the books from the 1980’s about
Berlin and New York (such as ‘Works
of a city’), you realize that the visual language
conjured up by Peter, pops up again in the reliefs that he
has been making since 2015. (For example ‘Secretary lunch break')
That is one of the few beautiful things of ageing: you can
in the best-case scenario evaluate whether your life, in
various aspects, is coherent. And yes, now that it's all so
beautifully brought together, we can congratulate Peter on a
coherent life and artistry, because in his case it becomes
very clear that these two are not separate from one another.
In this film
you will see a modest overview of his work through the ages.
(not chronologically by the way).
Another example: In the context of this consideration,
Peter sent me a document in which he described his life in
one continuous text. Particularly the beginning of his life,
which took place in Groningen, I do not want to keep from
'Peter often played
outside in the still undeveloped areas, where many flats
and new roads were being built. Such as the big road
heading south, towards Assen, on a high slope, prepared
for the future. Peter dreamed of cars, built a lot in the
sand with the omnipresent building materials, dug holes,
stacked wooden planks together to make a flat (always with
a hole in the middle, so that you could crawl to a higher
floor), built endless huts in the living room and in his
(shared, with his brother) attic of rugs and sheets and
blankets fastened to chairs and tables with clothespins.
Peter was commissioned by
the school to investigate the neighborhood to measure
everything and record the size of the street and the
neighborhood. Peter became curious and wanted to know what
could be behind it all. He built models out of papier
maché, drew a lot, thought about how a radio or TV worked,
or fantasized about building his own car out of wood. '
You can see it before you. Here the artist is already rising
up in him and it is only 1962.
A large part of his oeuvre consists of capturing urban
environments, in which he, as an outsider, considers cities
such as Berlin and New York, such as ‘Canalstreet’ from 2013 and
Amsterdam. From 2007, photobooks have been added of
road-trips through (The United States) America, which he
undertook with his friend Dan Schmidt, entitled ‘On The Road Too' Part I and part
In both cases no people are to be seen in the photos. Peter
photographs the cities and the country as they appear to
him, with no sentiment of human intervention or romantic
I would like to point out a somewhat more personal part of
his oeuvre, namely the biographical archive project ‘World Works' (2011 - 2013)
in which Peter combines his life and work from the 1950s to
Part of this project is the library from 2013. This library
consists of twelve parts. For example, there is a booklet
about his sister, who died in 1974, entitled: ‘Ellen Marina José’. The works
have a different and more personal character than the other
works and as a result they provide a more complete picture
of Peter Spaans.
‘In a conversation with Hans
Eijkelboom’ at the presentation of the series in 2013
at the Johan Deumens gallery, Peter said the following:
'In this work, where I
start the series with all sorts of news photos and
articles from newspapers, I slowly trickle myself into it.
First in the form of a picture of myself as a child,
pictures with family, and then there comes the first
drawing, or a note, so my presence in this world is
getting bigger and bigger. '
In this way Peter Spaans also shows something about his
personal life as being a part of his art production. He does
so very modestly and in a form that coincides with the works
in which he portrays cities and landscapes.
In conclusion, a quote from Peter from the above-mentioned
conversation with Hans Eijkelboom about the ideal website:
' I want a website that
feels like a city. Yu really want to go there and you let
yourself get off guard, you get lost, stop somewhere,
visit the sights, read a newspaper, stay overnight, then
get lost again. You leave the town and come back again for
the next visit et, etc, etc. That is not standard for a
website. A site must be extremely accessible, approachable
and look like other sites. I simply do not want that. Lose
you way, get irritated and not finding your way back and
if you don’t come back, then don’t, this city is not
suitable for you.