‘Cuckoo’s nests'


Blues music is based on a few simple formal principles: the use of wailing sounds – the so-called blue notes – and a fixed chord progression. Within these restrictions, a limitless range of variations are possible, that never fail to touch the listener’s heart.


The work of visual artist Ton van Kints is reminiscent of blues music in more than one way. Van Kints, too, works from simple principles that create space for a limitless number of variations, with the ability of conveying emotions to the viewer almost physically. And as in the blues, any display of technical virtuosity is absent in Van Kints’ work, though it is unmistakably made with skill.


Ton van Kints’ chord progression consists of the sawing up of wooden boards, the separate parts of which are reassembled. His blue notes are the loose ends and splinters in the saw-cuts, that remain visible as scars on the damaged, once smooth skin. The final mood of the work is determined by the method of assembly – with staples, kit or distemper – and a sober, monochrome use of colour. Through the years, ever new series are created, always unmistakably his, but with considerable differences between them.  

The same goes for his most recent series, ‘Cuckoo’s nest’. These series starts from loosely sawn circles, with an inner circle sawn out in each of them. This ‘egg’ is then put back into its counter form the other way round, like a cuckoo hijacking another bird’s nest to have its own eggs hatched out. The result is fragile and harrowing, especially when Van Kints violently crams the cuckoo’s eggs into the ‘nests’. This creates a friction that resonates in the spectator’s own body. Sometimes, to take away the tension, Van Kints adjusts the ‘egg’ on the edges, refitting the puzzle pieces. This he calls ‘poldered cuckoo’s nests’ referring to the Dutch ‘polder model’, i.e. the Dutch habit of planing and fiddling until any unevenness and tension is smoothed away, as if there were no differences or opposites. Meaningless forms turn into meaningful metaphors. However, Van Kints never indulges in purely conceptual or socially critical art. Primarily, he remains a lyrical poet, sing-sawing the world. Black and blue, with dents and gnarls.

Onno Schilstra