Folkert de Jong, ‘Act of Despair II’, 2012, DENK Gallery

About Folkert de Jong

In his sculptural tableaus, Folkert de Jong explores the history of colonial conquest, particularly that of his native country The Netherlands. “The Dutch seem to be very proud of their historical conquests,” de Jong has said. “For me as a kid growing up here, they are like adventurous stories, with costumed characters as in Hook and Peter Pan.” In his often grotesque-looking figurative sculptures—made from contemporary, often non-recyclable materials like Styrofoam and covered in vibrantly colored, syrupy paint—de Jong often makes reference to the figures and dress depicted in Old Master paintings by Dutch ancestors, including Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Frans Hals. This dialogue between past and present is pronounced in the melancholic mannequins of de Jong’s Les Saltimbanques (2007). Eternally paralyzed, these sullied jesters are the forlorn, degraded descendants of Picasso’s Harlequins. In other works, de Jong satirizes important historic events such as the Dutch purchase of Manhattan for beads and a mirror.

Dutch, b. 1972, Egmond aan Zee, Netherlands, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands