An introduction to the works of Christina de Vos (1)

Too early

Christina de Vos (1965) is an artist who used to be very reluctant to call herself that. Born in rural Holland, far removed from metropolitan high culture, her development towards artistry wasn’t stunted by preconceptions about what contemporary art should look like. This “naivete” has stayed with her, and in fact she feels much more akin to outsider artists, than to the in-crowd of the fashionable art world.

She attended art school in Rotterdam, at first intent on becoming a traditional painter, but soon she veered off towards the draughtsmanship that still pervades her entire output. Christina concluded her study with a massive series of very small drawings on scrappy pieces of paper, and a tetraptych (or rather four matching large drawings on canvas), that attest to both her fear of accidental self-portraiture – resulting in numerous headless bodies and featureless heads – and her quest for human form.


Human form, surely to express human emotions, surely to say something about how the artist perceives the human condition, but nevertheless and foremost form, shape, tone and composition. Christina de Vos depicts human forms, to portray human feelings.

This precocious academic flowering presented itself as “schöne Greuel­märchen” (beautiful horror stories), theatrical, Beckmann-like depictions of cruelty, stagings reminiscent of freakish sideshows, martyrdom, and worse. It did earn her accolades, a prestigious gallery show, and the inevitable label “promising”, that blandest of epithets. What it didn’t do, however, was offering a way forward: the hardship that went into producing works of such brooding intensity proved untenable for an artist that young.


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