From: Gust Romijn explorer (ontdekkingsreiziger) 2013 by Eva van Berne


Passion for every period
The life and work of Gust Romijn

‘They said that I jumped from one subject to another. Said that you must have a “trademark “ as an artist, you had to see who the maker was. I always laughed loudly about that. They didn’t always know how to deal with me or place me, shocked at every exhibition. Each time it was a blow and that wasn’t often dealt out here. But I was never afraid. Variability is part of me. I personally think I have a very changeable nature. I’m a little bit of enormous this and enormous that, mountains and valleys. Always was. Rather difficult for your environment I think.’

Gust Romijn is an artist continuously inspired by life itself, art and his surroundings. During an active period of more than sixty years he always engrossed himself in his own way in current art trends. If he is thereby grabbed by new styles or subjects these get his full attention and the previous ones are left behind. The criticism that often befalls him regarding his sometimes erratic style development in his oeuvre doesn’t bother him. He speaks , among other things, of his lyrical, wild and thoughtful years in which time and again he internalized new forms of expression and techniques. Investigations in space and on the flat surface, sometimes figurative but mostly abstract, whereby alternating organic and taut forms predominate. Within these extended periods he always works on what he terms ‘items’, series of drawings, graphic work, paintings or sculptures in which a specific topic is worked out. In a period ranging from a few weeks to months he is immersed in a particular stylistic or substantive theme and only stops when he has completely mastered it. After such an intensive work period he distances himself from his work and studio. However it never lasts long before he goes to work again with a new series, completely different or yet again reverting back to the preceding works.

Regardless of the view that critics of his work have, appreciation is often expressed for his diligence and decisiveness. Romijn is a getter type ‘don’t talk but do’. This applies not only for his own artwork but also for the numerous commissions he realizes, his teaching positions and his work as designer for international festivals. Romijn’s oeuvre is not only versatile but also very extensive. His work and personality color the Rotterdam art world in the years forty, fifty, sixty and seventy. Then he settles in Zeeland. His life and work show his character, his humor, his penchant for large and lots, always new forms of expression, sometimes thoughtful but often vehement. He compares his work as an artist with that of an explorer, someone who is always looking for new impressions. There are periods in which he actually travels a lot. But he also makes discoveries in his vicinity and in his extensive collection of books on art and culture.

This publication describes the personal story of an artist’s life, the various aspects of the work of Romijn and the context in which it came into being. Also the manner in which he gave form and shape in his teaching positions and activities for Poetry International and Film International Rotterdam are discussed. The biographical texts are based on the stories of Gust and the memories of Marianne Kleijwegt, with whom he lived from 1982, written in 2011. These texts are supplemented with information from his extensive archive, interviews and secondary sources. From different periods of his oeuvre works are highlighted, which provide an overview of the variety of styles and techniques Romijn applied en route in his exploration trip through art and in art.

1922   October 3rd born in Noordwijkerhout. Dutch father, Surinamese mother  
1927   Romijn family moves to Rotterdam  
1940 - 1945   first drawings and sculptures. Lives and works in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Maastricht  
1949 - 1954   works in the ateliers of ’t Venster in Rotterdam . The artists who worked there were later called De Venstergroep (The Venster group)  
1954   member of Liga Nieuw Beelden (League New Images), Amsterdam  
1954 -1955   grant from Maison Descartes. Trip to Paris. Works in Atelier Dix-Sept with Stanley Hayter. Contact with Alechinsky en Tajiri  
1955   winner of the National May 5 Graphic prize  
1956 - 1957   iron and scrap sculptures, paintings with thick layers of oil paint  
1957   winner of the Prix Susse Paris  
1958 - 1963   contacts in Milan and Rotterdam with Piero Manzoni  
1960 - 1963   black paintings and brass sculptures  
1962 - 1963   lives and works in New York City  
1965 - 1970   painted steel sculptures and chrome sculptures  
1970 - 1974   neon sculptures and installations  
1970 - 1983   teacher, later Dept. Head at the Academy for Fine Arts in Rotterdam, department spatial design and idea development and at the Vrije Academie in The Hague  
1973 -1983   visiting lecturer at the University of Victoria and Emily Carr College in Vancouver, Canada  
1973 - 1986   artistic designer Poetry International, Rotterdam  
1977 - 1982   artistic designer Film International, Rotterdam  
1983   settles in Dreischor, Zeeland  
1984   prize-winner Delta Monument, Province of Zeeland  
1982 - 2010   large oil and acrylic paintings, drawings, sculptures in freestone, lacquered wood and painted steel & posters and designs for Nieuwe Muziek Zeeland  
1985   forms fictional Foundation Zeeland Pyramid  
1990 - 2010   makes computer designs for paintings and computer prints in editions  
1995   commissioned for steel and bronze sculptures ‘Mealtime’ in Amersfoort-Kattenbroek and ‘Ode to the Madder’ in Sint Annaland  
2002   on his 80th birthday publication of the book Gust Romijn a spatial adventure (een ruimtelijk avontuur)  
2003   commissioned for the ‘Flood Monument’ adjacent to the Flood Museum in Ouwerkerk on Schouwen-Duiveland  
2005   publication of the book Gust Romijn and the desire for space (het verlangen naar de ruimte)  
2010   Gust passes away on January 28th at his home in Dreischor at the age of 87  
2013   publication of the book Gust Romijn explorer (ontdekkingsreiziger) and there is a retrospective exhibition at the Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke by Antwerp