Rutger de Vries

Born in Zwolle, Netherlands

Artist RUTGER DE VRIES’ colorful and immersive paintings are created using self-made painting machines that serve as extensions of the painter’s hand. By employing this method, he deliberately pushes the boundaries of painting. DE VRIES: ”I use tools to create images. I’m always thinking what else can I do with a spray paint”. As a consequence, there is always something between the artist and the painting, either self-developed spray machines using techniques such as aerosol spray paint, paint bombs, and corrosive etching chemicals or printers he installs himself. The machines are carefully staged and exist out of self-developed sprinkler systems connected to fire extinguishers that he fills with paint and sprays onto the canvases. The results are multi-layered dynamic paintings in primary colors. “I am always searching for a contrast between free movement and rigidity, by bringing these two opposites together, a certain alienation is expressed”, DE VRIES explains.

“I took inspiration from spirographs – a geometric drawing device that produces mathematical roulette curves. Based on this idea I build free-hand tools and combine them with self-developed machines or by building printers.” His background as a graphic designer has interested him in working exclusively with graphic design colors such as CMYK, RGB, NCS and RAL. “I like to be in control, which is why I like to work with systems of graphic design. I love how they’re constructed and how you can find balance and contrast with color and form. The Moiré series, for example, comes from graphic grid shapes that imitate movement in the image, while Glitches is made from images of software mistakes that I collected throughout the years.”

Alongside his large scale canvases, DE VRIES builds site-specific installations that continue his approach to paint. Rather than limiting his artistic space to the canvas, the artist includes walls, ceilings, pipes and other architectural elements to create immersive room installations. He takes graffiti as the starting point for his approach, as a way of occupying space and questioning authorship.

By building up these layers of color in all of his works, DE VRIES allows the paint to transform into a fluid entity that manifests into a kaleidoscopic and multidimensional dimension. In the process, the boundaries between individual colors, between horizontal and vertical dripping lines, are dissolved. The resulting movement opens up spaces rich in abstract structures that together form an all-encompassing, pulsating movement of color.

(June 2022)


The expansive painting installations of RUTGER DE VRIES diverge in both geometric visual language and more organic, fanning painterly surfaces that draw upon the dynamics of seemingly contradictory actions of expression and concealment. At first glance, his work echoes the expressive character of a restless painter, but visible traces occupy the installation’s scene: the stray tools characterize the maker’s own absence. DE VRIES extends the experimental gestures and systemic logic derived from the traditions of process painting and conceptual art into self-developed tools, merging industrial mechanics and computer-controlled machines with techniques such as aerosol spray paint, paint bombs, and corrosive etching chemicals. By blurring the value of his identity, DE VRIES investigates the scope of his own authorship, while reflecting the visual means of anti-establishment movements. Consequently, by operating in the context of the visual arts, a new antagonist appears at the intersection of private and public space.