What does the ideal artist’s studio look like? How much time does an artist spend there? Is it a sacred place? This week in 'The Artist’s studio' series: Folkert de Jong, whose work is on display at Art Basel Unlimited this week.
Do you visit your studio every day?
I live and work at the same location, in Amsterdam. That's ideal. Living and working are mixed, but I am quite traditional in my working hours. I usually work five days a week, and from nine to five. Before and after that I am busy with my family, and with my garden. My studio at home is not very big, but good enough as a basic studio. Occasionally, I rent a larger workspace if I want to work on bigger installations, like this year, in preparation for my retrospective exhibition at Kunsthal Kade in Amersfoort, in January 2023.
What time do you leave for your studio, and how: on foot, by bicycle, public transport or car?
I walk downstairs, put on my work clothes and go! Get started. My preference is to take a forty-five minute walk before I set to work, but that hasn’t happened for a while because of the many works that I want to make.
Do you hold on to certain rituals in your studio? Music or silence?
I like music, especially indie pop, classical and freaky underground. I have a playlist, and then I let the algorithm surprise me.
How important is light to you?
I have a set of LED tubes installed on the ceiling, which are nice and bright, and illuminate the whole studio well. Daylight is not necessary, but nice to keep in touch with the outside world and the garden in the back.
What does your work process look like? Do you work everywhere and all the time or does work only commence the moment you enter your studio?
I think about my work all the time, but I think it's important not to work too long, otherwise I lose the ability to judge if I'm on the right track with a certain work. That's why I switch between different projects all the time.
Since I have a family, I've made it a point to spend the beginning and end of the day and weekends with the kids. That keeps me in touch with reality and prevents me from indulging in my obsession with being busy with my art all the time. It also makes me more social.
How much time do you spend on average per day in your studio?
Seven to eight hours. After 8 hours of work, I really enjoy grocery shopping and cooking. To me, preparing a meal is like a continuation of artistry, but in a lighter way. I experiment a lot. I start from a cookbook, and then I free-style from there... and that is often appreciated by my housemates.
Is your studio a sacred place?
No, I see it as a workshop, a kitchen, or a laboratory, where I can get to work. I think at home or in bed. In the studio I want to experiment and give shape to the ideas, in doing so I distance myself from the theory, and I enter into a dialogue with the work, and see if there is more to it. I often want to get my ideas out of my hands as quickly as possible so that I can park them. Later on, I go back to this first impulse again, and wonder if it can turn into something. Art is a vehicle for me to get something from my head to the outside world: a means of communication.
Do you receive visits there; collectors, curators or fellow artists?
Yes, I am quite open in receiving people. For me, the studio is a place where I like to talk about art. But I like it best when parents of my children’s friends come into the studio. They are frightened and do not know what they see. At that moment, I realize how wonderful it is to be an artist, and to be able to work like that every day. And I'm soooo glad I'm not an accountant, or a lawyer.
What is the most beautiful studio you have ever seen?
Good question! I own a book on Anselm Kiefer’s studios. He cycles indoors from artwork A to B. That seems ideal to me. As an artist, it is best to look around my own head: my studio is a kind of enlarged skull in which I walk around and look in the corners for forgotten plans that I can investigate.
What does the ideal studio look like?
Big, hangar-like, although it's dangerous for me to have a studio that's too big. I don't clean up anything and keep moving to the next empty spot; after a year it is a big garbage dump. Maybe that's how it is in my head too... disorganized, busy with everything at once. But it does feel nice.