Fedde de Jong


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His father was a police officer in Sneek. Despite his Frisian descent, Fedde de Jong has mainly worked in the west of the country. About 15 years old he left for Amsterdam where his sister lived. He worked in a hotel and continued to make a living selling calendars. As an artist he was a late bloomer. In 1947 – he was 33 years old at the time – Fedde de Jong went to the National Academy of Visual Arts in Amsterdam, the first year to evening school, then during the day. There he was a student of Heinrich Campendonk. This German expressionist painter had fled Germany from the Nazi regime in 1934 and had been professor of monumental arts at the Rijksacademie since 1935. Campendonk has been of great influence in the development of a large group of younger artists of Fedde de Jong’s generation.

After his studies Fedde de Jong went to study in Antwerp and Paris. On his return to Amsterdam he ended up in the so-called Contraprestation. The Counter-Achievement was introduced in 1949 by the Ministry of Social Affairs. In short, it meant that artists submitted work and received a financial benefit in return. Only artists who could not make a living from their art production were eligible for admission. In 1956 the name changed to Visual Artists Scheme (BKR). Although Fedde de Jong wanted to get out of the Contraprestatie as soon as possible, he was happy with this arrangement – many of his colleagues were very disappointed. Another source of income was the purchases of his work by the Municipality for the Topographical Atlas of the Amsterdam Municipal Archives, for example drawings by Ouderkerkerdijk, the Houthaven, Kostverlorenvaart, Riekerhaven. He was always looking to earn money with his work , he sought every opportunity to market his work. He went to lunchrooms of department stores in the Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk. There he vented his work to the customers who were having coffee. Often they were specially made drawings and paintings – he himself called them “air bubbles” -. Colleagues scoffed at this, they did not consider this approach worthy of an artist.

From 1965 Fedde de Jong started selling larger work and his work was shown at exhibitions. In that year a retrospective exhibition was held in Arti on the occasion of its 50th birthday. He also exhibited abroad: in Paris, Antwerp, Spain, America and Canada. Fedde de Jong has always traveled widely in Europe. He traveled in a Citroën bus that he himself rebuilt in the company of his wife to Luxembourg, but especially to Brittany, which he called his second homeland. He made sketches of landscapes, industrial areas and especially harbors in the form of gouaches. He always had a special tent with him to dry the gouaches. On his return to his Amsterdam home, De Jong set to work making large paintings based on the gouaches. These landscapes, situated in France, often have something dramatic. The gouaches are much more cheerful. “That is, says Fedde de Jong, because I painted it outside, directly in full light. The paintings are made from sketches in my studio. ” In the gouaches a little more shape had been retained. One recognizes more clearly than with the paintings what they represent and is more lively and direct, but the gouaches often do not have the far-reaching balance of the large paintings. At the beginning of his artist career he made his own paint with egg, but because the quality of this paint was not durable, he switched to acrylic paint. De Jong was one of the moderate moderns in his day. Starting out as an impressionist, he had become more and more expressionist over the years.

The expressiveness is expressed in its clouds and landscapes, set up in rhythmic coarse brushstrokes and strongly abstracting. With his landscapes he moved on the edge of abstraction, but the recognizable was not let go. His work is highly sketchy and suggestive: “I do not paint boats, but the essence of those boats,” he said. Yet they were thinly applied to the canvas with the brush. Due to their dull appearance they look a lot like the gouaches. He showed himself to be a pedigree painter. Everything was broad and flowing on the canvas in large irregular patches of color. Greyish and bluish hues predominated , but other more warm colors such as ocher and nuances of white and black made his work lively and varied.He suffered from his leg and had to undergo surgery in 1970. In 1977 he died at the age of 62.

Many of his works are in the possession of municipalities, provinces and the State. But also large companies in the Netherlands and abroad have included work by Fedde de Jong in their collection.