The sculptor Eric Don, born in 1954, who completed his studies at the Rijksacademie Beeldende Kunsten Amsterdam, is unsurprisingly living and working overlooking the wide water expanse of the IJ river which is still enshrined by the remnants of the Amsterdam harbor,. where he is constantly inspired by the robust industrial heritage of his immediate surroundings. The impressive huge metallic crane guarding the entrance of his workshop functions as a forceful beacon to his primary sources of inspiration.
The waste driftwood and weathered rough metal material, staging as the scarred fruits of toiling workers, the products of the Industrial Age, seemingly carelessly thrown away in our Postmodern Age, apparently meaningless, but simmering with a yet unearthed internal life, are only waiting to be detected and made apparent by the artist.
Eric Don is respectful of and attentive to the primal message uttered by the mute stone, wood, metal. They touch him, he recognizes their grace and extracts their initial anonymous meaning. He knows their history of violence and aggression through his experience with the past of the shipyards. It is this extraction of their soul, this implication of a vigorous creative process which makes the artist stand apart. He imbues them with a new life..
There is no true metamorphosis of the object in the sense that the anonymous object had already been instilled with an inner life long before, perhaps at the end of the 20th century, or perhaps at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, or perhaps even in more distant ages, just waiting to be given a second or a …seventh life during the course of the creative process. The artist lets the material sing with the words and music which belong to it.
Eric Don wants to live with the objects. Not just comment them.
His message is clearly directed towards the unraveling of the rough beauty, the aesthetical qualities and intrinsic character of honest material.
His creations tend to the abstract, conceptualized within scientific and sculptural perimeters but with certain aspects tending to the figurative. He is fascinated by degrees of symbiosis between man and architectural elements such as stages of integration between the pedestal and the sculpture whereby the sculpture outgrows the pedestal as an almost natural or vegetal outcrop.
This leads to a strong sense of irony not only directed towards our ambient ambiguous society but also towards our contradictory unsettling past resulting in constantly prevailing subtle winks or witticisms.
Thematic figures referring to history of art or more closely connected to African, Greek, Roman, Celtic or Polynesian inspirational sources or purely mythological subjects such as Narcissus, Pan, Icarus and other dwellers from the classical pantheon find themselves astonishingly reincarnated from the stone, the wood, the metal the artist uses.
This state of irony hallmarks his works aptly named: Pregnancy, One Horsepower, Tank, Lost Wheel, ’Moses received the stone tablets and thence was created …Sculpture!`.
The sources of his art include: Etruscan, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Celtic sculpture and more recent inspirational influences are the loud voices of: Giacometti, Germaine Richier, Gonzales, Chilida, Serra, Picasso. Solana, Wotruba, Dodeigne, Bourdelle, Abakanowicz. The sounds of Stravinsky and Captain Beefheart are also resounding in his head.
Eric Don arrived at sculpture after his studies in painting at the Rijksacademie Beeldende Kunsten Amsterdam whereby the sculptor Paul Gregoire and the painter Norbert Olthuis were his guides. He still has a lot to say with tridimensional pictural works even though he chose to dedicate himself mainly to sculpture.
Sculpture involves the need to work manually, to use strong solid materials, which lead a concrete relationship with reality instead of limiting itself to a purely mental contact such as is the case with painting.
The work of Eric Don combines elegance betraying his artistic sensitive proclivities with threatening elements related to the harsh reality of the industrial world.
It allows us to enter a world of harmony. A world expressed by silence…
Lucas de Wannemaeker, Amsterdam September 2008
Eric Don was awarded the Kunstbeeldprijs in 1985.
His work has been exhibited at various locations in the Netherlands and abroad and can be found in various Dutch and foreign public and private collections.