Autumn '18

Kwelder, Mud-Flat or Tidal Marsh


Lieuwe Kingma, Mud-Flats XXII, 2014, acrylic / oil on canvas, 50 x 60 cm



For Lieuwe Kingma, ‘figurative’ and ‘abstract’ are not opposing concepts between which a choice must be made. Far from it: ‘I often arrive at abstraction by means of reality, and the other way around.’ That can happen in terms of form (representation) or technique (matter). Pictures of rust (flaked car parts at a wrecker’s yard) or old doors can make themselves felt in abstract works. ‘I don’t paint the flaked surface, but make it like that – by literally pulling off the paint.’ So it’s not painted suggestion, as with the realists, but layered matter. Because of the way Kingma looks at things, the transition point between abstraction and figuration (or between perception and imagination) often takes an unexpected turn.


Kwelders or Mud-Flats in the Northern part of The Netherlands, where land meets sea.

Door panel on the farm, as mentioned in text
Mud Flats I and II, 1985, gouache / acrylic / oil on paper on panel, 25 x 32.5 cm

Detail of Mud Flats I, showing craquelure

Dried clay ground


For example, he might ‘discover’ a landscape in an old door board. That leads to works like “Mud Flats I and II” (1985), two paintings of dry plains in the water with clouds above. Sometimes chance and time play a part of  their own. Kingma made an undercoat of gouache and binding agent on prepared paper, on top of which he then applied oil paint. Over time it started to pull a little, so that a craquelure developed (which doesn’t come off). A stroke of luck, as it looks like the mud flats do in reality: dried-out clay soil. Lieuwe: ‘I could have done without it, it’s technically not really correct, but it’s a happy incident.’ The ‘Mud Flats series’ is still in progress.


(source: quotations from article written for jubilee book: Lieuwe Kingma, 25 Years of Art by Annelette Hamming 2010).


I will conclude with a story that I wrote in 2004 on behalf of the buyer of these “Kwelder” paintings in order to explain how and where I got the idea for this subject.


During my student years at Art School “Academy Minerva” in Groningen, Netherlands, I still regularly worked on the family farm not far from the sea coast in the Northern part of The Netherlands. It is a familiar environment, since I grew up there. Being an art student, I found myself looking at my surroundings in a different way. My eyes were being trained to look for light fall and contrasts, to discover colors and shapes, and to recognize lines, repetitions and rhythms in my surrounding landscape and space. One day my eye was caught by an old door (see picture above) that had been there for ages.   It suddenly struck me as an imaginative abstract landscape. On the door, which was turned on its side in order to fence off a space, I recognized an abstract landscape in the form of left over paint peeling off the door surface. Then I recognized that these shapes were not coincidence.  This made me think of the paintings of the Dutch painter Gerrit Benner and also of the French painter Nicolas de Staël.


Gerrit Benner

Nicolas De Staël


A few years later (in 1985) these impressions resulted in these two paintings, which I named “Kwelders I and Kwelders II.  I presented them at the exhibition that took place at the final exams at art school.  They received a great deal of attention and positive feedback. In particular, the sense of color was praised.


These two paintings never disappeared from my retina and they inspired a series of abstract “Kwelder” paintings that is still in process today. This article started out with the most recent painting, “Kwelders” XXII, 2014.


© Lieuwe Kingma, March 2015


I look forward to your reactions!

Warm regards,



Kwelders III.1995

Kwelders IX.1995


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