Artist Enno de Kroon – pioneer of Eggcubism, creates jaw-dropping art using the most mundane and seemingly uninspiring objects – namely discarded egg trays.
Just like the undulating ripples that seem to emerge from his paintings, Netherlands artist Enno de Kroon’s ‘Eggcubism’ has been making waves ever since he first started painting on egg trays in 2004. De Kroon’s paintings are the kind that make you stop in your tracks and squint, twist and even stand topsy-turvy in order to make sense of them.
This is precisely the kind of experience that de Kroon as an artist wanted to create. Speaking of the 10,000 visitors to his exhibition at the Rotterdam Central Library he says, “I loved seeing how masses of people moved around the works, observing them from all possible different angles. This is precisely my aim: to involve the observers and allow them to make their own choices in perception.”
De Kroon’s Eggcubism which is inspired by the ‘Cubism’ movement of the 20th century differs from the style pioneered by Picasso and Braque in dimension, and by the shift of emphasis from the painter’s perspective to the viewer’s personal interpretation.
Like the traditional Dutch artist Breughel, de Kroon’s subjects too are derived from common social scenes. Paintings like the Village Feast, Classroom, Fun Fight or Family Celebration explore the interrelation of group dynamics and personal intentions with a playful sense of humour, easily bringing a smile to the face.
Only, de Kroon transforms simple themes like these into something fantastical by painting them on discarded egg trays. It’s hard to imagine the humble egg tray capable of such artistic elevation, but to de Kroon, the undulating, uneven surface of the tray heaves with potential as his paintbrush explores its valleys and peaks.
Explaining the improbable choice of the egg tray as canvas, de Kroon says “As a painter I consider egg trays as two-and-a-half dimensional objects which offer me remarkable possibilities for imagery. The waves of the egg cartons limit the viewer’s perception; they also make him aware of his positioning towards the image.”
Since 2004, de Kroon has created many such Eggcubism artworks using discarded egg trays – each one more complex and breathtaking than the first. What began as simple portraits of sailors have grown into complex multi-layered scenes that often taken eight months or more to finish.
In 2007, the German Peter Klaus Foundation acquired 38 of his paintings while several of his other works today lie in the possession of private collectors. Ever since images of his work were posted online, de Kroon has been feted by the internet community for his creativity in recycling junk, with his artwork being pinned and re-pinned furiously by the ‘green’ brigade. However, to view Enno de Kroon’s Eggcubism primarily through the prism of recycled art is to do him a great disservice.
An established artist and sculptor from the Willem de Kooning Art Academy (Rotterdam), de Kroon wryly notes “I didn’t discover Recycled Art, which in my opinion has come and gone in all ages. It is more likely that the new vogue of recycled art has discovered my work on reused egg trays, and here my art seems to fit the spirit of the present time.”
Nevertheless, as a responsible artist genuinely concerned with the environment Enno applies his creativity towards making a positive difference by “taking part in the international debate on ‘Reuse and Recycle’ art”. Not all recycled art though, he says with a sigh, can be considered green. When artists use toxic glue, weld car parts or use spray paint which is harmful to the environment, they are creating plain-as-the-day ‘bad art’.
The adventurous artist who once even experimented with painting on hot-air balloons believes that he has finally found his match in egg trays. These days he busies himself with printing digital images of his Eggcubism art on 100% handmade paper from India. The uneven, bumpy surface and the distorted image it produces, he chuckles with delight, is just perfect.
De Kroon says “I’ve always played around with distortions of perspective; this puts the viewer on the wrong foot and makes him conscious of his manner of observing. Clearly what fascinates him about Eggcubism is the fact that the viewer has to interact with the painting in a dynamic way in order to experience its multiple expressions. To view Enno de Kroon’s art in all its two-and-a-half dimensional glory is to be able to appreciate the real genius of this master painter-sculptor. For now, we’ll just have to be content with 2D images.
Text By Christabelle Athaide Photographs Enno de Kroon