WHO WAS EVERT DE GRAAF?
Evert de Graaf (1953-2013) lived and worked in Friesland, in the Netherlands
Evert was a turfmaker, an eelsmoker and a selftaught painter. But most of all he was a man whose life was dedicated to living in a natural environment, 'far from the madding crowd'. In Evert's case: living in on a boat in the beautiful Deelen area in Friesland, where he lived for many years with his partner and even many more years alone, waking up with the sound of birds and water, cut of from electricity (a waste of money) and most basic comfort (it could be really cold on the boat). Evert would be catching fish (eel mostly) which he would sell to local fishmongers - but first he would strip the skin of eels: he would prepare the skins in some magic way (getting rid of the fat and the smell), stich them together on his old sewing machine and then apply them on small wooden panels - creating amazing landscapes, on which he would sometimes a bit of paint (some blue, some white) but the best ones are 'untouched'.
Life wasn’t easy for this man, who didn’t fit our modern times. He passed away too early leaving a small body of delicately painted still lives, couples, (moon) landscapes, fisherman's gear, cigarettes, eggs and bird’s nests. But most of all, he will be remembered for his famous eel paintings, a Dutch touch of Arte Povera.
EXHIBTIONS AND PROJECTS
Evert de Graaf has been exhibited extensively in Friesland: he had numerous solo shows, and was also exhibited at the Belvedere Museum. Book lover and art collector Steven Sterk introduced us to Evert's work in 2007, when he showed the famous 'eel paintings' in his private home and in his gallery. We were lucky enough to include some of Evert's work in an exhibitition dedicated to silence and contemplation called 'Neue Stille' in Amsterdam, where we sold some of his eel paintings.
KLERKX & THE EVERT DE GRAAF ESTATE
We work in close collaboration with Elly van Wijnbergen, Evert's sister. When we took over the estate - 60 remaining works, numerous prints, an unpublished memoir, some fishing materials and lots of ephemera - we decided to focus on conservation (some of the eel works are slightly damaged) and on presenting Evert de Graaf's work in galleries and museums (his work in currently on view at the group show On the Spot in the Belvedere Museum in Heerenveen). Read a review here.