working in china - 2011/2012

In 2011 Bart Drost was a short period a guest lecturer at the Art Department of the Tan Kah Kee & Design College of the University of Xiamen, China. His stay in Xiamen was a heady acquaintance with the Chinese culture, with everyday life in the city. He became as it were infected by the boundless energy that currently haunts in Booming China. The result is seen in five art projects that Drost at the end of this work period presented in various locations in Xiamen..


let's have a seat and talk about it - xiamen china - 2011

People often ask the artist 'What kind of work do you make?' But asking the question is often more easy than giving the answer. How to describe an image in simple words? Nowadays artists answer with a simple 'Take a look on my website'.
In the installation 'Let's have a seat and talk about it' Drost has found a unique way to give the visitor an idea of his art work and his artistic life. Not by referring to his website, not by showing just one painting, one drawing or one sculpture but by showing almost hundred photo's of his private home and studio in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In his believe daily life and making art are not two seperate worlds, they are woven together and form as such the complete life of the artist. The photo's are printed on format 30x50cm and form each the surface of hundred little notebook tables such as students in Xiamen usual use when they are laying in their beds. In this installation Drost invites the visitor to take a little chair and spend time together to have a chat about the images the tables are showing. Chatting on your notebook all alone in your bedroom is okay and of course very convenient, but nevert forget the importance of communication face to face. Take time, no hurry.

pictures hang on walls - xiamen china - 2011

As the Xiamen Tan Kah Kee College Bart Drost in 2011 invited to be a guest teacher at the Art Department, they asked him also to do an exhibition of his artwork. Mostly artists see such as a possibility to create new works in a kind of artist in residence situation: making new things, experimenting with new forms, getting inspired by the new invironment. But in Drosts opinion it would make more sense to show artwork that he made in his homeland, in his own studio in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Isn't it true that Chinese art students are curious to see 'western art'? That they want to know how artistst in 'the western world' act and survive? For the installation 'Pictures hang on walls' Drost enlarged a vague black and white photograph that he took in his studio. At that time - November 2010, it was the day of the open studio, so anybody could come in and take a look - more than fifty drawings and paintings were hanged on a wall.
But being in China Drost couldn't refuse the new possibilities of copying one will find nowadays in nearly every street corner, so he gave a new form at the images. Some of them he 'took from the wall' and re-created them into flat two-dimensional objects, which he enriched with gold and a little red. The new works became a sort of religious items, very easily to carry with you in a procession. Sacrefying the arts, so to say!

grooms for 1 day - xiamen china - 2011

In the installation 'Reflections Part I: About Love' there is a book placed on a pedestal that has the title 'Grooms for one day'. It is a wedding book like many people make in order to memorize their wedding. Bart Drost contacted a Chinese wedding photo company and asked them to make different photo series of the grooms. He plays one of the grooms and he asked a college artist to play the role of the other groom just for a day. The result is beautiful book and it involves more than a non-verbal story, it's about more than the social phenomenon 'two mail marrying '. During the recording and production of the book Drost received all cooperation. He printed the book in a luxury edition of 25 pieces. Transport to Netherlands, however, proved to be notnot easy: the book was ' suspect material '.


reflections part one: about love - xiamen china - 2011

The leading sense in China seems to be 'Everything is possible'. It is amazing to see what is going on in this society. A great feeling of optimism and a never-ending range of possibilities to growth. But in a way it is again a matter of copying that's going on. Bart Drosts contribution to the development of contemporary China is it to copy one of the best hidden secrets of The Netherlands: the birthday-calendar. The images on the calendar are a tribute to Hollands most famous export product: since 2001 it is the first country in the world that aloud gay and lesbian couples to get married. For the China market he changed the Dutch couple of kissing farmers into couples of kissing Chinese brooms. Therefor he gathered traditional (ceramic as well as plastic) wedding couples, he separated bride and broom and combined again two brooms together.

reflections part two: about chinese art education - 2011

As a visual artist from Europe Bart Drost has a certain kind of western art-language: art for him is to express his inner life, whatever there is going on. With his art he tries to give images to his feelings and visions about what's happening in and around himself, about the world and him. By showing these images at the public Bart Drost communicates on a level where words fail. Being these weeks in Xiamen as a guest teacher at the Art Department of the TTK-university he has to realize that making oneselfs personal life common is all but usual. They are different -the Chinese and the Dutch artist- in expressing their feelings. Thats not only in art, but also in the behaviour in everyday life. It is amazing how extremely good some Chinese students can copy the works of old Dutch masters, how they work virtuous with brush, paint and pencil. But however, it hurts to see how difficult it is for them to make a  new work', out of their own, without an example they could copy. Most of the time it is their art-education that seems to be the reason of being unsure about their own possibilities: as if they not to have learned to speak and to develop an visual language of their own.

home is where the art is - xiamen china - 2011

During his stay in Xiamen Bart Drost had always his photo camera with him. To be honest: he forgot his own camera when he left Nijmegen, so he had to buy a new one at Schiphol Airport. That turned out to be the start of a new project. Because this new camera has a splendid video possibility. The result is an amount of more than fifty little movies, from 30 seconds until 11 minutes, but most of them around 5 minutes. Little movies about the beauty of everyday life. All of the videos were shown at the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Exhibition on May 22nd 2011 in the appartment Bart Drost lived in Xiamen. For three hours visitors were invited into his house. Six digital screens played the movies all at the same time.


mind your step - video - ceac xiamen, china - 2012

In 2012 Bart Drost visited Xiamen for the second time. Now as artist in residence at the CEAC (Chinese European Art Centre).
It is common at the end of the work period,
artists have a final exhibition within the space of the CEAC. The plans Bart Drost submitted were rejected by the organization because of the presumption that the works would cause too much commotion, because of the idea that the installation Drost was prepering had too much a 'gay-character'.
Drost therefore decided not to make its own exhibition but made a presentation of works by young Chinese artists who had been a guest at MAAS Artist Residence (which he initiated in his hometown of Nijmegen).
At the closing of the work period he made 'quickly' the short film Mind your step, because it's not always easy to walk on tiptoes.


going home - tkk museum of art xiamen - 2012

In april 2012 Bart Drost together with hisChinese friend Xiaoming Xia made a brief trip to his homeland. In theexhibition 'going home', specially created for students of the Art & DesignDepartment of the XiamenTan Kah Kee College does Drost report of this trip,which is peppered with stories from the childhood of both himself and XiaomingXia. A 'going home' in two respects: the Chinese friend is looking for his homeplace, Drost serves again the way of painting in which his career has started.The result are 18 black/white paintings (220x85cm), 23 color paintings (110x85cm), 23 pen drawings (15x10cm) and 1 shortmovie.


teaching the arts at tang kah kee college

At the invitation of the Tang Kah Kee college, Bart Drost developed a series of lessons for first-year students. He was amazed at the fact that the students - although they have a bigh amount of technically know how  - can hardly work with 'free assignments'. So they became more or less loosening lessons.


the students


three books

Three books have emerged from all these projects in China:

the xiamen projects - which provides an overview of all projects

grooms for one day - the wedding album

going home - which recorded images and texts from a trip to hubei

back to archive


Bart Drost

free artist

Graafseweg 183a
6531ZR Nijmegen
The Netherlands