Cees Elzinga

The promised land (2021/22)

Woodblock prints

The promised land (2021/22)

The quest for he promised land is always triggered by something that threatens to destroy our families, our neighborhood, the lives we lived, our future, everything that we took for granted. Oppression, war, flood, famine, a disrupted society. Often, such disasters come together to cause tremendous fear, the loss of kin and home, the loss of purpose.

Then we go for it, with all we can carry, all that is left. We know that many of us will never reach this promised land, that many of us will die on the road, nameless debris of history. Others will get lost and end up in hostile environments. We know all this, and still we go. For we have no choice.

All the prints shown here are somehow related to this theme.

The leftmost image, entitled “The promised land 1”, is a woodcut of 19 x 19 cm, printed on a 30 x 25 cm sheet of 40 gr/m² Kozo paper in an edition of 15. It was made by printing two layers: the first one comprising of the black/white image and the second layer consisting of a transparent, homogeneous bluish-gray. The prints cost € 250.-, unframed and VAT included.

The second image is a drawing: the design for the leftmost print. It is drawn in black ink with pen and brush on a sturdy, white sheet of some 200 gr/m². It comes in a black alloy Mavanti frame with passe-partout and anti-reflective glass at € 900.- (VAT included, free of shipping cost).

“Fiat Nihil” (2022), woodblock print.

The image on the right, entitled “The promised land 2: Fiat Nihil” is a woodcut of a building devastated by artillery. The sheets measure 32 x 38 cm of 220 grs Fabriano Rosaspina, the image itself measures 280 x 215 mm. This is often how human migration starts – by war. This is what Putin and Kirill created: nothing.

The price is only € 50.-, VAT and shipping included. From this amount, € 38.- will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross; the rest is used cover VAT and shipping.

Frans Clement (1989) “Na de sloop”, woodblock print.

It appeared surprisingly difficult to draw a mess that can be recognized. The Dutch painter Frans Clement also made a woodcut, entitled “Na de sloop (after the demolition)”. He only needed two recognizable objects – the concrete tube and the pallet – to make us see the remnants of demolition. Do visit his website and admire his paintings: https://www.dutchrealism.com/schilderijen.html. Unsurpassed!


“Dwalen” (2022)


The making of “Fiat Nihil” interfered with my normal work, so when I started working on it, I was already working on the plate that I finished shortly after “Fiat Nihil”. I called it “Dwalen” (transl.: “Wandering”), the colored print shown on the right. The image (280 x 200 mm) is printed on 220 grs sheets of Fabriano Rosaspina, measuring 35 x 27 cm. It comes in an edition of 14, the price is € 330.-, VAT and shipping included.

As you can see, it has many colors but I only used a very limited palette of colors to mix with: white, burned sienna (a dark reddish brown) and ultramarine (a bright dark blue). When these colors are admixed, the mixture yields a grey. A bit more sienna, the grey becomes warm brownish and a little excess of ultramarine yields a cool, bluish grey. By admixing white, the grey becomes lighter and by admixing a so-called “extender”, i.e. an “ink” without pigment, the mixture becomes more or less transparent. All colors used where generated in this way. If you want to know more about color mixing techniques, there are tens of interesting and sometimes funny video’s on Youtube.

To create this image, I used two different plywood boards: a smaller one with image of the three persons cut out and a second, bigger one for the landscape/air. First, I printed the slightly brownish-white “background” over the whole surface and than use the smaller plate to print the three wanderers. Only then, I printed the lower part of the landscape (two passes), including the faint bluish horizon and in a third pass, I created the bluish sky. So, in total, I needed five passes to finish the print. Clearly, each of the three wanderers has a different color – this was a accomplished through using a color gradient when inking. By now, most of my secrets have been revealed so you can start making prints yourself.