Jan Eric Visser

Jan Eric Visser lives and works in Rotterdam. He trained as an artist at the art academy at Kampen in the Netherlands and has taken part in more than 40 group exhibitions. His exhibition at GroundWork, TrashArt, in 2018 was his sixth solo exhibiton and the first in the UK, though there had previously been a significant development of his work in the UK with his discovery of the artistic potential of a ground-braking material, Aquadyne, a kind of recycled plastic which was briefly in production before the company which made it was bought out by Unilever (see the TrashArt exhibition page for further details).

The majority of Jan Eric’s work begins from his own household. All the paper and card, packaging and newsprint which comes in through the front door, once it has served its original purpose, becomes transformed in his studio into sculptural forms. In Jan Eric’s world, it becomes part of another form of existence for artistic purpose.
While the underlying scale of any work can be shaped by the garbage it starts from, he is never literally guided by it, but his forms emerge gradually. Using pulped paper and card fixed and finished with wax recovered from Catholic church candles, he makes art instinctively without ever anticipating the end result. http://www.janericvisser.nl

Jan Eric’s art relates to a deep understanding of the ways in which a form can relate to the human scale and needs to occupy space. His sculptures often take the form of enigmatic figures, hovering mysteriously somewhere between humanoid and abstract. The work is always untitled, he does not want to fix any specific identity or association. Its material presence, its quality of surface and colour, scale and shape, is inextricably related to the ethics of its production. For TrashArt he created a new body of work, 10 major pieces of freestanding sculpture and wall-reliefs and 11 smaller wall-works made from waste collected along the River Great Ouse in King’s Lynn.

“The artistic practice of Jan Eric Visser has been focused entirely on the transformation of his everyday garbage items into autonomous works of art. He likes to refer to this process as ‘Form Follows Garbage’, exploring the boundaries of his control over shape, material and color, at the same time addressing pressing environmental issues like resource shortage and overconsumption by reducing his own carbon footprint.”

I must admit that I don’t look upon art as another commodity that is easily understood and consumed. Every day I am working towards a transformation of matter, and therefore of myself

Jan Eric Visser
One of the sculptures made for TrashArt from River Great Ouse waste

Waste is the new gold

Jan Eric Visser

Visser is well known in the Netherlands and also exhibits internationally, being represented by the gallery Art Affairs in Amsterdam. From November 2017-April 18 he had a major exhibit as part of a group show, ‘Lost in Garbage’ at the Verbeke Foundation, Westakker, Belgium, involving the work of 13 artists using waste as a substantive starting point and artistic medium http://verbekefoundation.com/en/ To accompany this, the foundation published a book of his work entitled ‘Veritas’, the latin word for ‘truth’, the artist having noticed that this same word was used for branding by the boats in Venice carrying the garbage out of the city. Waste is truth. Waste for him contains the essence of a new poetry. Visser describes waste as ‘the new gold’, increasingly valued, commercially traded, sought after and fought over.

Untitled 2017

In another place or context, the materials the artist starts with, common household waste, might be rubbish to be discarded without care, at best, recycled into another household product. But in Jan Eric’s world, it becomes part of another form of existence for artistic purpose. As art, Jan Eric Visser’s work is part of a new kind of environmental politics. 

Untitled 2013.