Artists Erris Huigens and Gysbert Zijlstra make up the Amsterdam based Graphic Surgery. During their educative years at an art academy, they discovered a mutual source of inspiration in contemporary cities. They were utilising photographs to capture abstract compositions: construction sites, details of eroded rusty surfaces and modern industrial) architecture. This provided the basis for the partnership, back in 2000 which has continued to this day!

Photography still forms the foundation of the work and the recurring theme ‘construction cranes’. As they say “Besides being visually and endlessly inspiring, cranes are the symbol of change in the city. Wherever there is a crane something is going to be built or demolished. As soon as the transformation has been completed the cranes move to the next part of the city.”  This process of a city under construction fascinates the pair and in their work they try to capture this process of constant change. “We deconstruct bits and pieces from our photos and reconstruct them intuitively into altered images by use of scanning, digital editing, printing, photocopying and stencil technique. We started referring to this self sufficient process as graphic surgery. This cut and paste approach has manifested itself through different techniques applied on a wide range of vintage materials, for instance: collage, painting, drawing, screenprinting, etching and digital printing.”

Work by Graphic Surgery has been seen in numerous exhibitions throughout the Netherlands, and also in Paris, Brussels, and Luxemburg. Currently they are collaborating on various projects with several interaction and multimedia artists.

Graphic Surgery1. What would you say is the most important theme in your work?
The city and specifically the changes within over the course of time. Construction cranes became a symbol for that.

2. What’s most inspiring to your working process?
The unforeseen outcomes of things you experiment with. Accidental as well as purposeful or definite choices.

3. Have you any strange talents that influence the work you produce or the way you produce it?
Gysbert: I loved skateboarding and graffiti when I was young, which got me into photography. Both deal with the city, and particular spots, and to capture moments you take pictures.

Erris: I simple experience a city, and know how I want to paint it (or elements from it) in an abstracted way…

4. Which artist of the past would you resurrect to collaborate with and why?
Gysbert: Honestly have no idea. Maybe whole movement groups, like ‘de Stijl’, the ‘Dadaists’ or the ‘Russian Constructivists’.

Erris: Yes, I would love to see a piece of art that myself, Theo van Doesburg, Franz Kline, Jean Michel Basquiat and Wim Crouwel would create together.

5. Do you think your work is understood or misinterpreted and why?
It’s quite abstract and geometrical though there are constructions to be found. Like most art, you love it or you hate it. People have to just simply interpret it in their own way. What seems too abstract and geometrical for one person is a perfect piece of art to someone else. Most of the time, the minute you see an artwork for the first time, you feel it or you don’t feel it.

6. If you could decorate one place in the world what would it be and how would you do it?
We really like 3d mapping – beaming onto existing architecture and make the visuals interactive.

7. What to date has been your ‘cherry on the cake’ moment and what was it that got you there?
It lies in the near future, our first solo exhibition next month in the heart of Paris, at Galerie Celal.

8. What we ask everyone! Does your artistic style influence your underwear?
Gysbert: Haha, I wear woven boxer shorts with all kinds of classic checks 😉

Erris: Yes…

Doodle space, if you feel so inclined!

Graphic Surgery

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Artwork courtesy © Graphic Surgery