Interview: Ron van der Ende

Ron van der Ende erschafft wunderbare Reliefs aus Holz, die teilweise so realistisch wirken, daß man nicht wirklich weiss, ob man gerade eine Collage, ein Gemälde oder eine Skulptur betrachtet.

Im Interview erzählte er mir von seinem künstlerischen Werdegang, seiner Technik und dem Verhältnis zu Internet und Musik als wichtigem Realitätsanker…

The Past

I discovered I was so entrenched in my techniques and tricks that there was much more freedom in sculpture so I changed classes


Diskursdisko: Hi Ron. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start painting and sculpting?

Ron van der Ende: I grew up in a small village not far from my current hometown Rotterdam.
Some of my earliest memories are set in the old industrial woodworkshop where my father worked. I guess that had a big effect on me. I painted all through childhood and eventually started attending art school to become a painter. But once there I discovered I was so entrenched in my techniques and tricks that there was much more freedom in sculpture so I changed classes. I never regretted that choice but it is clear that in the long run I have come full circle to the very edge of sculpture and painting .

The Art

Cars evoke our individuality but at the same time they are the symbol of environmental catastrophe, of unsustainability.

stadsbusDiskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art?

Ron van der Ende: I collect old doors and stuff. Old painted wood that I find in the street. I take it apart and skin it to obtain a 3mm thick veneer with the old paint layers still intact. I construct bas-reliefs that I cover with these veneers much like a constructed mosaic. I do not paint them!

Diskursdisko: What inspires you?

Ron van der Ende: For my subjects I draw from everyday life and popular culture. I’m always on the lookout for interesting subjects. Things that have something important to say or that talk to what I call my “basic boyish enthusiasm”. I do not like use the word inspiration. It sounds to much like a force outside myself. Like some mythical god given spark. I like to take a down to earth view at art.

Diskursdisko: Your sculptures and reliefs look very painterly, and at first sight, it’s often difficult to tell whether one is looking at a painting, a collage or a sculpture – how did you develop this style?

ornenRon van der Ende: I suppose it is more a technique than a style. In my early career as an artist I experimented with a lot of different materials. Eventually I came to realize I should limit myself to one technique that was decisively my own to specialize in and excavate. I chose working in old wood. First I did small models of boats and submarines etc. They were very powerful and successful objects, but I wanted more. Most importantly I wanted to build cars. That seemed like a theme that was at the center of our culture, that speak to us on many levels. To our dreams and nightmares both. Cars evoke our individuality but at the same time they are the symbol of environmental catastrophe, of unsustainability. I did one 3d car at one point. It looked nice but its brand was hard to recognize and it took to long to build, something like 8 weeks. It made me furious.

Eventually it came to me in a flash that I should construct a bas-relief from old wood and that it could be almost flat regardless of the size. That this way I could work big and light and that I would only need a single photograph as reference instead of the whole technical layout. After working feverishly for three weeks my first car bas-relief was a reality.

The effect of the built in perspective was so strong that it made some people dizzy. My relief technique is still very labour intensive but the advantage is that the energy that goes in is on the surface for everybody to see. Also building a relief is a creative process from start to finish. Its great fun to work on them!

The first bas-relief was still kind of crude, very simple in color template. But the 3d effect was intense, especially with the open door being in fact almost flat.


akai-vt100Diskursdisko: You’ve got a very long post at your blog detailing all the bands you’ve been listening to lately – do you feel that music informs your art? Are you inspired by the music you listen to?

Ron van der Ende: Music works like a reality check to me. I’m not sure if it directly informs my art but listening to fresh and challenging music is important to me when I work in my studio. It keeps me in the moment. I’m always looking for new stuff.

Four years ago I started inviting my friends and colleagues to send me a list of their favorite music for the past year to put on my blog. This has since become a tradition. The post you refer to was done in that context. I wanted to know what their studios had sounded like. It was a way to discover new music but I also wanted to get artists I admired involved in the internet.

At the moment I’m listening to The Woods, Fever Ray, Dan Deacon, Caribou, Madensuyu, Deerhunter, Cold War Kids, pretty mellow stuff.

The Web

All of my favorite websites from those days were discontinued a couple of years later.

Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?

Ron van der Ende: I did ArtBBQ from 2003 to 2007. After that I felt it was time for others to take over. The website I do now is called The Stray Voltage and it is much more irregular and informal. ArtBBQ was more like an index of what artists were doing on the internet. I started it because there was no platform for artists to advertise and discuss their web ventures at that time.

I thought artists also needed something with the dynamic that was evident in blogs connected to the music scene back then. Right now there are a lot of great blogs out there but I think there is still room for improvement. The standard blog setup is very limited in terms of user interactivity because of its pipeline chronology. I’ve started using Facebook but I’m not sure that whole thing is headed anywhere in particular.


Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?


Ron van der Ende: I went on the internet in 1998. Before that I had relied on the library as a source for visual matter. The internet was perfect for finding large amounts of images on any given subject.

All of my favorite websites from those days were discontinued a couple of years later. Gone without a trace even. Some of my favorites were a website for Gilly’s Car Wreckers, a car scrapyard in the California desert that had photographs of all their vintage rusting automobiles for part ordering reference. An other one was called that posted photos of police cars. They had to close down because the traffic on their site was making the project to expensive. Hosting and bandwith was still very costly back then. Same with a site specialized in hearses, vehicles for undertakers. I just loved to browse these extensive image bank type websites. A site that is still there is who sell used medical equipment. Also all of my favourite musicblogs have been deleted by now. David Fenech used to have a great adventurous music blog and a guy called Aaron Coleman did essential music reviews of unknown bands on a blog called called Almost Cool for ten years until he decided to quit a couple of months ago.

Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?

la-douzeRon van der Ende: The most special is always the one that I’m working on right now. Just about all of the reliefs I made are sold so it is also wonderful when I get the opportunity to see one of my babies again.

One is special to me for sentimental reasons. It is a small car I did two years ago, a Renault 12. It was the first car I remember my father driving. This is a small swift and sketchy piece that shows a lot of potential for developing upon.

Another would be a piece called Flawless, a diamond I made a little over a year ago. And last summer I built a relief called Peekskill after a car that was hit by a meteor in a place called Peekskill near NY in the early nineties. That piece is incredibly painterly. The car is accompanied by a 3d model of the rock that hit it.

The Future

Due to where I am in my career and also due to the state of things in the world I feel a need to make my work more concentrated…

Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?

Ron van der Ende: I have many plans. In fact I’m planning to take my work to a new level thematically. Due to where I am in my career and also due to the state of things in the world I feel a need to make my work more concentrated, more severe, and to put my work in the context of current events. I’m planning a years break from doing exhibitions to realize this new body of work. It will be on show at my gallery in Seattle Ambach & Rice in 2010. At the same time I will be venturing out into the real world doing art assignments, some of them in the public realm.

Diskursdisko: Ron, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?

Ron van der Ende: No, that is it. Thank you for having me!

Vincent Wilkie hat diesen tollen Beitrag verfasst. In seiner Freizeit ist er Musiker, Webdesigner und DJ.

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