Construction by Bas Degroot, Winger, Ontario. Painted in 1988, at 140 King
Street (Welland Library - Main Branch), 27' by 17'. Degroot approached
his topic of the construction of the Welland Canal bypass with a symbolic
expression of the relationship between man and machinery. He used the baroque
style of the Dutch master with dark, heavy colours contrasted with yellow.
tried to create an atmosphere of labour, suggesting the huge size of the
project by visualizing the machinery as large, insect-like black silhouettes
with just a few, seemingly unimportant people. The white silhouette of
a gull reminds me of spiritual motivation and human strife, that shapes
outdoors can keep me from further developing a design. That is a a disadvantage,
since I have the habit of almost endlessly adjusting and (hopefully) improving,
only stopped by deadlines. On the other hand, being in contact with the
people who will have to live with my work, having a chat now and then,
exchanging views, is very rewarding. Yet, in the future, someone should
prevent them from climbing and shaking my scaffolding while I am attempting
to paint at the highest stage, being afraid of heights, trying very hard
to forget where I am."
Virtual Guide's Comments
artistic sensitivity of Bas Degroot is obvious in this mural as he uses
shape, colour and perspective to present his message almost subliminally.
Giant black machines occupy the foreground, but they are devoid of detail.
We seem to be looking at the idea of machinery, not the machines themselves,
enclosing the men and dominating them. It is as if the machines are in
control. The dream-like atmosphere is heightened by the monochromatic presentation
of the construction scene. Even Degroot's trademark white bird is a symbolic
anomaly, for although it is the harbinger of hope for the future, it flies
out of the frame and away from the men."
the Artist: Bas Degroot, Winger, Ontario
Degroot was born in the Netherlands and arrived in Canada in March 1988.
He studied visual arts and futurism at university and as a private student.
He is known in Europe for his huge brick murals and glass mosaics. As well
as his large-scale outdoor art, Bas works on miniatures and has written
eight books and numerous articles, in Dutch mainly about futurism. He practices
art in a versatile way: teaching private, secondary and college students,
illustrating magazines and books, designing for stained glass and producing
monumental works of art for building structures and squares (in 25 Dutch
cities, also Welland, Niagara Falls and Waterloo).
has about 200 North American illustrations published in newspapers and
various magazines. He has created about 20 stained glass designs for the
Luxfer Studios in Concord, Ontario. Several of these have been executed
for churches around the province. His largest outdoor projects are mosaics
in brick relief, measuring up to 1,000 square metres. In Europe, he designed
his works in the studio and others did the actual construction.
Degroot is now committed to creating and developing authentic Christian
art in Canada. Current projects include designs for two Niagara churches
and a Christian school.
Festival of Arts gave him his first opportunity to tackle an exterior painted
mural, which will always commemorate his new beginning in a new country.
"It's my first Canadian work," he noted. "It's my start."