Helen Frik (b. 1960) has been actively collecting her own work ever since 1996. The Gemeentemuseum now shows a wide selection of idiosyncratic works on paper drawn from the resulting collection.
The Frik Collection dates from the time when Helen Frik was preparing for her retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Encountering several of her favourite drawings which she had sold years before and never seen since, she suddenly felt the urge to form a collection of her own work. She became aware that the excitement of a potential sale could not outweigh the sense of loss that followed it. Moreover, she experienced an ever more profound realisation of the more complex significance that individual works can acquire by being viewed in the context of her other drawings. The earliest of the drawings in the collection dates from 1981. Together, they provide a clear insight both into Frik’s oeuvre and into the evolution that has taken place in the artist’s thought over the last twenty years. The works dating from the early eighties are extremely minimalist. After that, however, Frik rapidly developed into an artist whose work can best be described in terms such as poetic, idiosyncratic, direct, imaginative and (subtly) humorous. The drawings – in widely varying formats – occasionally include a few words or sentences and the majority of them contain figurative elements. The use of materials varies: sometimes the artist uses pencil and ink; on other occasions these materials are complemented or replaced by materials as diverse as gold leaf, snakeskin, oil paint or fragments of photographs. Helen Frik is certainly not the only artist who collects her own work. You might suspect that artists form such collections in order to refer to them in relation to current projects. Using this exhibition as a case study, the Gemeentemuseum seeks to throw light on the other motives artists may have for actively collecting their own work.