Hetty van Boekhout, Frank Gribling: batik, experimental batik, wax techniques, art, artpractice, lecturing, teaching art

Wax-resist paintings

Hetty van Boekhout

Wax - Resist



On my technique

I learned the Batik-technique in a very traditional way , during my art-studies at the 'Stadsacademie' in Maastricht , the Netherlands , from 1963-67 .

I was fascinated being able to create a design on fabric , stage by stage , dip dying , using the tjanting for fine details with lines and dots . Batik combines my love and affinity for dye color and fabric .

For many years working with traditional Batik on fabric towards a more personal way , I didn't feel satisfied anymore with the flat end-result of the surface after removing the wax . With Batik on paper I discovered new possibilities which I constantly explore . Paper with its own properties , thick or thin ,rough or smooth , opaque or transparent , creating tactile qualities . During my art-studies I made several applique' tapestries .I enjoyed dying the fabric and assembling the pieces together .

Now working on paper , collage is an important element in my work again , which creates layers of ‘’skin’’ . Shapes can be moved around . The idea has a better chance of being developed without being forced . Contrasting elements and chaos meet each other , making new shapes and images . Wax lines are kept on the surface and in other places the wax is melted with a hot iron to keep the underlaying papers into place . Transparent papers , like tissue paper , create depth , overlapping each other .

I like to emphasize the material quality and the tactile values in my work , using the specific technique of Batik in an autonomous way .

Hetty van Boekhout

The emancipation of Batik into Fine Art .

Batik is a technique , traditionally used to produce decorative patterns on fabric . As such it was brought to perfection in Indonesia , on the isle of Java , around the end of the 19th century . At that time it had an impact on the Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe , especially in Holland , where the socalled 'Amsterdamsche School' used it in interior design. Nowadays the wax-resist technique is developed in a more autonomous way , although it has still a strong crafts connotation. It is typical for Batik in general , that the wax is used during the dying process ,but is not important for the material condition of the end-result . It is washed out thoroughly .

In another technique , called 'Encaustique ' , already known from the Fayoum portraits of ancient Egypt , the wax is an enduring and stable component of the artwork itself . It has a tactile quality of its own , probably the reason why Encaustique was rediscovered in 20th century modern art . Jasper Johns used coloured wax in his famous American Flag paintings of the early sixties .

Batik is today also emancipating towards Fine Art .

An important contribution to this emancipation are the 'Wax-resist Paintings ' by Hetty van Boekhout . She uses all kinds of dying and bleaching Batik-methods on paper , but not on textile . The use of paper is quite important , as it puts her work in the context of Art . As the material quality , the tactile qualities of the artwork are of prime importance for her , she doesn't remove the wax , but keeps it for it's own sake , as in encaustic paintings . Although she makes obviously use of wax-resist dyes , instead of paint , her work can easily be called 'Wax-Paintings ' , instead of 'Wax-resist Paintings ' .

Another aspect which puts her work firmly in an Art tradition , is the way she introduces collage in Batik . Collage is of course , from Kurt Schwitters to Rauchenberg , a venerable modernist method to smuggle object-reality into Art .

Hetty van Boekhout does something different . She transforms by collage in wax , her own bits and pieces of raw batik textures and patterns , a chaos of informal shapes , into a dynamic , spatial world , based on aesthetic laws . She doesn't incorporate found objects in the work , as most collage and assemblage artists do , but she creates an abstract universe ,waxing together the results of fundamental batik procedures .

This opens up new perspectives for an age-old technique , often linked up with it's crafts background . But it also gives new vigour to Informal Art , with different means , normally not used in Art .

Hetty van Boekhout ads something new to an 'Art Autre ' , that Tapies and others started half a century ago .

franck gribling

Delight in the ephemeral .

Hetty van Boekhout's work has a rare instinctive poetry which defies form and narrative . Hetty delights in the ephemeral and yet tempts scrutiny and interpretation .

The Batik process in the artist hands is skilfully spare and judged to ensure that the aesthetic integrity is not compromised .

Paper is Hetty's favoured material , cut and torn , overlayed and transparent .

The effect of this subtle blending of wax and dye on paper is distinctive and vital , enhanced but not inhibited by the craft .

Hetty's work successfully shows the relish and challenge of the medium . Its spirit has authority and engages the eye .

Noel Dyrenforth

Some Publications

'Textiele Kunst in Belgie ', Openbaar Kunstbezit , Holland 1975 .

Gids voor de Kunstcollectie ,Provinciehuis , Antwerpen ,Belgie ,1989 .

Fukomoto Shigeki , Senshoku alpha ,Osaka Univ.of Arts ,Japan 1997 .

Fukomoto Shigeki , Senshoku Jisshu , Osaka Univ.of Arts,Japan ,2001 .

Development of Batik in Europe to-day , Britain,Tourist Info Magazine ,

Guizhou , 1998 .

Sarah Tucker , Batik , London , 2000 .

Noel Dyrenforth , Batik , Modern concepts and techniques , London , 2003 .

R.Smend,R.Trefois,M.Waworuntu ,P.Wenger, Batik 2003 Gent , Art in motion ,

Editor J.Coenye , Gent 2003.