Untitled (graphic wall) (1966) Bouke Ylstra

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About the artwork

The Stadhuis metro station has access on both sides of the Coolsingel. On the side of Stadhuisplein, a 'graphic wall' has been installed between the stairs, designed by artist Bouke Ylstra. Works that Ylstra made for a built environment followed just as much from his free work as from the situation in construction. For instance, this wall has much of the spontaneous nervous 'writing' that characterizes his etchings from that period. In the mirror-smoothly polished concrete panels by the artist, lines are engraved that are filled with a deep black paint based on a two-component adhesive. They form two configurations that resemble shapes. The line writing has playfully assumed forms that cannot be precisely named, but which are evocative. With their tenuous strength and their details, they are reminiscent of human or robot figures as well as schematic plans and lifting cranes, energy and circuits. The main shapes of the figures placed on the left and right side are determined by thick lines, which are inserted and supplemented with thinner lines and some black areas. Something like a pointed arm extends from each configuration to the other. The strikers almost touch each other in the middle panel. The wall receives diffused light from fluorescent tubes and light tiles in the ceiling and daylight from the stairs. Unfortunately, there are always strangers who give in to the tendency to add to the performance.
In April 1964, the artist was first asked about the assignment. It was decided in January 1965 that no art would be applied to this station first. The contract followed in December of that year.

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About the artist

Bouke Ylstra (The Hague, 1933 - Dordrecht, 2009) grew up in Rotterdam. From 1950 to 1954 he attended the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam, where he later started teaching himself. He worked as a graphic artist, draftsman and painter, commissioned for buildings and for the built environment. A constant in his work was the portrayal of a somewhat fragile yet cheerful person, who holds his own in a world of geometry and who often does well, but still radiates a sense of clumsiness. Line predominates in his drawings.

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