Reading art history is not unlike watching West Side Story. For a good hundred years, modern artists drew lines in the dirt. Manifestos were written, tomatoes and fists were thrown, and rival movements were joined. That old-fashioned passion went out with the touchy-feely “everything goes” attitude of Post-Modernism sometime around the Vietnam War. A contemporary manifestoed group is preparing to invade the world from Holland. Put your duct tape away; they are a friendly group with an impish name: the Toyists.
Toyism is a collaborative movement that began in a basement in Emmen, Holland in 1992. Dutch artist Dejo wrote a manifesto that is, unfortunately, secret to all but Toyists. Toyist artists assume fictional names with which to sign their work. In doing so, they hope to counter the art world’s worship of the individual by forming an anonymous collective.?Trying to divine Toyism’s manifesto is a real job. The manifesto is known to the artists as Moeder, Dutch for “mother.” Each artist is seen as a partner and their paintings as offspring.
Any resemblance among the works – and there is a strong stylistic resemblance between Toyist paintings – is a result of the partners’ connection to the manifesto. The paintings are narrative, innovative, and imaginative. A world full of colour, transparency and clarity drawn from reality, the surreal, and fantasy. This isn’t your grandpa’s surrealism though, kiddo. Raised dots resemble Oceanic or aboriginal art while the style of drawing sometimes looks like computer-drawn cartoons. The amoeba-like quality is part Joan Miró, part free-flowing, hipster doodle. The innovation in their work comes from free association between the group, influenced by being human. Humans have dreams, have sex, like to eat, drink, and enjoy nature.
They break rules of color contrasts and form that provoke personal narratives on the part of the viewer. Marking the movement's 10-year anniversary, Toyism revamped itself in 2002. That year, Dejo traveled through Russia, China, and Southeast Asia. Dejo found further inspiration in other artists' work and decided to open membership to artists worldwide. An international collective, men and women, Toyism now includes twenty members from all over the world. Their press release states, "New partners from the entire world may flirt with Mother. By a mutual love, the new partner is taken up and recognized." (Don't be scared, dear reader. It's not Jonestown, it's just art). "They follow their Mother like artists do a muse," was once said about of the Toyists relationship to the Manifesto. "She really doesn't exist but in their minds. It represents their idea of value, or beauty, if you want to use that word." Beauty is a concept that has been steadily reemerging in art. Everyone associated with the love for art is eagerly awaiting the Toyism arrival, because, coming from the Dutch painterly tradition, the works are said to be extremely well crafted.
Checkout their site toyism.com