A way of life ; the art of Jan Eric Visser

                                                                                                                                               Three minutes after my visit to the studio of a sculptor in Gorinchem , called Jan Eric Visser , a well-kept truck passed me by with lettering in capitals saying : VISSER TRANSPORT , and – close to its registration plate – a notice : " Sorry I'm limited ". 

Shortly before that Jan Eric Visser had revealed his fundamental ideas to me in his laboratory: no church or aristocracy , no dogma or class consciousness , but ordinary human experience shows that human knowledge and achievement are quite limited . Furthermore no substantial hierarchy of matter is to be found on our planet ; everything is dust and will be transposed to dust . The artist Jan Eric Visser wants to incorporate both these ideas into his visual art.

 Matter and means ; the process

 Visser’s working material is most simple and consists of all sorts of waste paper , dumped plastics , inorganic refuse and in fact everything that " normally " would be thrown away . Newspapers and leaflets are reduced to a pulp and used as a raw material for the making of his sculptures . After drying in the sun , drilling ,sawing and cutting , after the ovenprocess , the " skin " of the hardened material is impregnated with microcristalline wax which makes the object waterproof and intensifies its colour . The object in its finite form is stunningly robust . 

Form and colour 

The forms created by Visser are not in the least imitations of existing constructions or elements . In their finite appearance they are objects that largely affect human imagination . It is therefore up to the beholder to associate ideas . ( Is it a helmet ? a coffer ? a bust ? ). Visser’s creations for that matter have values of their own , inviting aesthetic experience as well as meditation and fysical contact ; they appear very constructional even without screws , nuts or bolts used . Their colours are fascinating thanks to all shades and the texture is smooth and shiny . 

What we see is not what we get

Visser has experienced how the public like to touch his creations . They desire to find out : is it ceramic ? bronze ? stone ? Not only the forms give cause to this , but also the colours , that often resemble bronze , forged iron or brass . Usually , people are surprised to learn that the truly solid material is made of waste paper .  

Visser ; visual artist

Visser’s work stems from a human condition that he defines as a fundamental inability to see " the multitude of things " connected in a meaningful way . Complex technological and social processes in fact are beyond human perception . As a person Visser is also faced with a painful inability to understand the nature and origine of major current issues ( such as world pollution ) , and find the right words . His art arises from his awareness of human limitations , literally grinding the words of newspaper reports and giving them a new shape . As such Visser’s work is a continual act of despair and its sole prospect is that a new form also offers a new outlook on a new life . Perhaps that is why he often presents his creations in unique self-made boxes that fit like a second skin . Full of care and respectfully like a Zen-buddhist at a new birth ! 

Language and the visual arts

Visser does not give titles to his work as he works towards a form that does not have any relationship with reality . Also the beholder , who as it were "completes" the artwork , should be allowed enough room for his own fantasy . Moreover according to Visser language and the visual arts are separate entities . The beholder of his artwork may simply think of him as a transporter , one of great significance though .


Kees Rood , Author .

(Summer 1996)


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