Start Panta Rei Primeval landscape Lantern Post Forest work Big Chief Slatelife Roots Miscellaneous Matter Exhibitions/CV Workshop Links



About the matter.



Although my work looks like paintings, it has nothing to do with the original painting.

With traditional painting all the materials are made to be of service for the artist. I however, try to position myself between the materials..

I don’t want to work the materials but I want to work with the materials.

For that reason I no longer speak of materials but of matter. The criteria for this name for me is that the own identity is not affected but emphasized.

The matter present in my studio can be devided in two catagories. The first catagorie is matter not jet influenced by mankind. For example sand from the primal earthlayers, vulcanic material,clay and several stages of peat.

The second catagorie is matter no longer usefull for mankind. For example ash from a woodstove and pieces of glass from a vandalished phone booth. By exceding the aera of use from mankind, the posibility for new, objective values and beauty arises.

The four basic elements; earth,water, air and fire can manifest themselves literal in my work.

Earth as matter. Water, air and fire as creative forces. Other creative forces are for example; gravity, my hands and the interaction between the matter.

I try to expel subordination from my work. For example when I use canvas, the canvas can manifest itself as matter and interact with the other matter. It does not just serve as a support for my creativity, but actually participate in the proces.

Although the earthly caracter of my work gives it a perishable appearance, it can easely endure the tooth of time.


Evolution of the matter through the years.



Requiem for oilpainting:2000


These are the last works in which oilpaint is used. Prepared paint could no longer overrule the eloquence of the pure unmixed sand-grain.


Requiem 1 en 2 (100/120)




These are  the first works in which the paint is unraveled.. The pigment-grain becomes a sand-grain, ash, clay, dried roots etc. The binder is still synthetic. Caparol for its transparency and Gesso because it dries white.

Startingpoint is prepared canvas.Three strips “zaans bord” paper are glued on the surface.

“Zaans bord”paper is traditional made paper from papermill the”Schoolmeester” in my village of birth Westzaan.


Aswerken (2x 50/70 en 3x 60/70)




In these works for the first time I use pigment as matter. The pigments where given to my by Samir Jacques Stenga, an artist from Ivory Coast. The pigments are natural and handmade. The bearer are small canvasses(40/50) with one strip of “Zaans bord”.

 Asrood (4x 40/50)


Fascination for peat.


A visit to a peat-park in Drente (in the east of Holland), arroused a strong fascination for peat. A cross-section from a peat-layer shows a constant proces of change in which every element is of influence. The oldest layer still contains the seeds of the origin. Exposed to water and air they will start growing again.  


Fascinatie voor veen (3x 60/70, 90/90, 100/100 en 90/120)





With the need of natural matter came the necessity for a natural binder. The solution I found in casein. A powder extracted from raw milk. Through the ages this has been used as glue and outdoor paint. The pure glue has a strong internal strength which can shape and crack the matter. These are qualities I can’t resist. By emulsifying the glue with varnish or oil, I can lift this internal strength. The arisen binder I can use from very liquid to almost massif.


Caseďne 2x 60/70 en 40/50


From support to participator.


 With the new way of working with the matter, I also started to look in a different way at the canvas. With prepared canvas most of the authentic qualities  like colour, structure, flexibility and absorption  are neutralized.  I decided to re-introduce these qualities in my work. Also the fact that canvas has two sides became an issue.


 Drager tot deelnemer 90/90 en 50/60


From frame to tree.

 Contemplating the frame also led to new views. The wood is sawed, re-glued,  roughness removed, milled in profile, support-crosses added etc. All this to oppress the natural warp of wood and to make the frame invisible. I wanted the wood back in my work. As starting point I use common beams. All own Identity is removed. The material is only used because it’s cheap and easy to work on. Before I make a frame, I start to split the wood and look for it’s own shapes. I call this process” Liberating the tree from the wood”. This process will continue when the frame is assembled. Together with the pure canvas the base is formed.


Spieraam tot boom 60/80 en 2x 60/70



From wicker-work to fibre


In the series BAGS  I further analysed  the prepared canvas. As starting point I used gunny bags instead of prefixed painting canvas. The rope that forms the bag, the fibre that forms the rope, the plant that provides the fibre and the bag itself are used as creative elements.


Vlechtwerk naar vezel 2x 107/175


The earth as pigment-grain

 Pigments are normally only used for there colour. The material of origin is grinded as small as possible for easy use. I decided to use the matter as presented by the earth. This can be small as dust or big as stones. Shape and size as I find them. Always the main issue is the own identity of the matter.


 Aarde als pigmentkorrel 120/120, 111/145 en 120/120




Copyright © 2005 Rob van Leeuwen. All rights reserved.

Send an email to Rob with questions about this site.

Designed by: Yvonne Post Uiterweer

This page is updated at 21-02-2018.