Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs has had shows in Brooklyn, Paris and Copenhagen. Still there is relatively little known about him in The Netherlands. He is based in Maastricht, where he also has his own gallery. At the age of eleven he starts writing graffitti. The difference from what he makes now is that he went from graffiti to contemporary art.
“It is the only thing I wanted since childhood. I have given up on a lot of personal things, such as some family relationships. “
>Van der Sluijs’ graffiti style is, as he calls it, ‘honest graffiti’. At the age of twelve he starts a study at a professional painting college, where a teacher encourages him to seek a more creative study. “The teacher had a chat with my parents. That’s how it went back in the days,” says Van der Sluijs, “after an open day at the Sint Lucas in Boxtel, I made an entrance exam and got accepted.”
He is sixteen at that time. Even though he had already worked for some skate brands, this is where his artistic talents start to develop.Van der Sluijs is a fulltime artist since 2000. “In collaboration with VJ collective Kijkbuiskinderen, I opened an exhibition space in Breda called Punct. We were allowed to use this space for three months, but things got so positive that we were obtained more grants. It was found to be a very interesting open platform. At openings it attracted more visitors than for instance at the Pont Museum in Tilburg.”
For many artists it is a dream to be a full time artist. “It is the only thing I wanted since childhood. I have given up on a lot of personal things, such as some family relationships. Having a family get together on a Sunday afternoon is what I abolished years ago. My parents are thrilled with what I do. My contact with them is very good.” It is to be said that his career as an artist is going perfectly well. A lot of international exhibitions are being lined up. A group show in Montreal and a duo show in Paris with his partner in crime Rutger Termohlen.
However, in his home country there is a slight less attention.Van der Sluijs: “How come? I have no idea. Perhaps because I rarely offer myself? The internet is of course indispensable. Many Dutch artists have their website in Dutch, which I do not feel like doing.” Five years ago his website was in Dutch, until he got emails from people asking if he could translate. A website in English makes more sense if you want to have exposure outside your own country. “The foreign market is much more interesting than the Dutch market. Traveling and meeting people is a nice bonus.”
In his current work Van der Sluijs uses lots of colors and fantasy images. It all seems alot of fun, but it is not always positive. His artwork ‘Only in the weekend’ could be a scene from Alice in Wonderland. The story behind it takes place in Maastricht.
“On the corner of my gallery is one of the very few brothels in Maastricht. During weekends I always see businessmen, who are staying for the weekend only. They walk down the street and make phone calls. Sometimes I can see that they are taking off their wedding ring and are counting their money. One time I saw a guy that went inside. Two weeks later I saw him with his wife. He looked at me and I looked at him. He got a red face!” This kind of behavior is what translates the images in his work. In ‘Only in the weekend’the man is the horny hare. On the canvas there is also a girl in sexy lingerie. In between her and the hare are different masks, which represent the man. “These are very small daily things, but on the other hand, it has a big impact. That is what I find really interesting.”
For many years Van der Sluijs is working together with his good friend Rutger Termohlen. In terms of personality and work they understand each other very well. Sometimes they work six hours in a row without saying a word. Together they create a certain power thatthey cannot create on their own “Rutger is super brilliant in drawing. I am not. We therefore complement each other. It does however not always work. Once we made acouple of canvasses, but afterwards we painted them black, to make it even more sadder.” Some ideas happen spontaneously. Most of the time it is that one of them has a starting point from where they begin. What happens on its way to the final product can easily change during the process.
Besides being an artist, Van der Sluijs has his own gallery called Green Light Gallery. “The property is from my grandparents-in-law. They gave me and my wife a chance to use it as a gallery.” He does not only exhibit his own work, but also others work. What you will not find in his gallery are water color landscapes and certainly not chain art. “At the end of each year the same lady comes in the gallery. Last year she got into chain art. These chains are made from yellow Kindersurprise caps. And if I wanted to buy and exhibit it. She is a very kind person and I am not evil, but there are certain things that I have to say no to.” In his gallery Van der Sluijs primarily exhibits contemporary art. In the beginning the city of Maastricht had to get used to having a gallery such as Green Light Gallery. “Maastricht is very Catholic and Conservative, but once you’ve conquered your place, then you do get embraced.” Amsterdam is where Vander Sluijs certainly would not want to live. Maastricht gives him the peace he needs. It does not really matter where you live if you want to have international exposure. Van der Sluijs certainly has a lot of foreign attention.