|LAFRIQUE PERIPHERIQUE ATLAS or JOURNEY AROUND AFRICA
an exhibition featuring selected etchings by Dutch artist Rolf Weijburg spanning the period from 1986 to 2000, and celebrating the publication of Weijburgs new book LAfrique Peripherique Atlas. The etchings record the splendor of the African Islands, a series that the award winning printmaker started in 1986 to document the natural beauty and cultural environments encountered during his travels.
© 2000 Rolf Weijburg
Exhibit at The Williams Gallery
8 Chambers Street, Princeton NJ
Saturday September 16th to October 14th 2000.
© 2000 Rolf Weijburg
About the Exhibit
Rolf Weijburg was born in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in 1952. Originally studying social geography and cartography at the University of Utrecht, he switched to the Academy of Fine Arts in the same town and concentrated on printmaking and the graphic arts. He has followed the tradition of many Dutch artists since the 17th century who traveled abroad, usually to the southern regions of Europe. After extensive travels through Southern and Eastern Europe, Rolf Weijburgs etchings took a turn to Africa following a years voyage through the Middle-East and East and Central Africa, in 1979. Many more travels through and around the African continent have followed, providing him with an endless flow of inspiration.
His work would best be described as travel stories or, as: "a documented inventory of various parts of the world -- a Dutch artists way to remember his journeys and share them with us." The late Franz Geierhaas, teacher and art historian, in his book The Creative Act speaks of the this passion for traveling as satisfying an artists need to explore diverse cultural, social, geographical and aesthetic components abroad. Additionally, in Rolfs case Franz notes that Rolfs passion for traveling and gathering in the world as a yearning almost Rousseauian for the simple life -- a return to nature.
The islands around Africa are the subject of "LAfrique Peripherique," a project Weijburg started in 1986. A superb drafter, Weijburg makes many sketches en route, takes photographs and audio-recordings of sounds encountered. These recordings on paper, film and tape become the working material for the etchings when the artist returns to his studio in Utrecht.
Being a cartographer as well as a print maker, Weijburgs images are often superimposed on a map of the region whence the image stems. As further aids to the viewer there are small inset maps of the African continent with the pertinent country indicated. In the introduction to his Book published in Dutch in 2000 the artist states:
"I found the common denominator for my series: the islands surrounding Africa. There were enough to keep me occupied for a number of years and not too many to make my undertaking impossible. It had to be a series of colour etchings. And to make them I traveled from 1986 to all the inhabited island groups. From Lamu to Rodrigues, from the Dahlak Islands to the Seychelles, from Tristan da Cynha to Malta."
The following excerpt taken from Rolfs translations about one of the many journeys represented in his etchings, is that describing MASSAWA :
"The narrow road from Asmera, Eritreas capital, at an altitude of 2,350 m, hurls itself down through a mountainous landscape to Massawa, at sea level, 90 kilometers farther. The road is closed from 9 to 4 every day due to road works and when we are driving down around 3 oclock we are stuck. At Nefasit there is a long row of coaches, cars and lorries waiting at the chain that closes off the road Once the road opens, it meanders through spectacular mountains, barren at first, and cold. But as we proceed further down, the air warms up while the landscape turns greener and lusher until at sea level it dries up again in the coastal desert
The remarkable perception and skill of artist, cartographer and printmaker Rolf Weijburg brings to the viewer the beauty and the reality of over 80 Islands and their peoples.
A major exhibition in The Singer Museum in the Netherlands and the publication of a book depicting all of the etchings from LAfrique Peripherique together with travel stories and other illustrations marked the end of this project in 2000. In 1992 Rolf Weijburg won the Dutch National Prize for the Graphic Arts.
Rolf Weijburgs newest project will be An Atlas of the Worlds 20 smallest countries.
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