Artist Profile: Don Drawings
Meet Alewijn Don, also known as Don Drawings, an Amsterdam-born autodidact artist and conceptual designer with a background in Art History and History. He has developed a profound passion for the constructivist movements of the early 20th century, a source of clear inspiration for his artistic style. His work seamlessly incorporates elements from Suprematism, De Stijl, Cubism, and Bauhaus.
He is also the local artist bringing character and personality to our flagship Bob - Bob W Amsterdam Noord, creating over 200 pieces of art that bring in the local Noord neighbourhood, ready for you to enjoy.
What inspired you to become an artist? Was there a particular moment or experience that sparked that passion?
My initial inspiration mainly came from the early abstract artists and my love for interior and architecture. I’m a somewhat unconventional artist in the sense that I studied Art History and History prior to becoming an artist. As a trained academic I found a job with an art auctioneer, and that is where my first inspiration came from. On a daily basis I was surrounded by 20th century artworks by smaller and more famous artists. The endless possibilities in art struck me, and I was inspired to get creative myself: this is where my alter ego ‘Don Drawings’ was born. The early abstract art movements have inspired me along the way. The pioneering character of their work plays a vivid role in the shift within the arts in the 20th century. I wanted to get a taste of that. But even more, the aesthetic approach of the world around us inspires me. These artists taught me to let everything go and mainly focus on shape, composition and movement. This combines perfectly with my love for interiors and furniture, since these elements are vital in the architectural world as well. This is probably why this inspired me from the get go in my work.
Your artwork has a unique blend of styles and themes. What inspiration contributes to this diversity?
I think the diversity in my work comes from the broad range of artists that keep on inspiring me. From the early suprematists and the artists associated with de Dutch De Stijl movement, via Zero artists like Jan Schoonhoven, to contemporary artists such as Vera Molnár and François Morellet. These artists are all quite different in their work, I think that could explain the adventurous road that I embarked upon in my artistry. Furthermore, the rapid moving world around me is a huge source of inspiration. I lived in Amsterdam for two decades all together and I can say that it is rooted somehow in the way I approach my drawings and paintings: always dynamic and ever changing.
How does Amsterdam inspire or influence your creative process and the themes you explore in your art?
Amsterdam forms a part of my artistic route. In my autonomous work I mainly play with the possibilities of movement and order on a flat surface. It started out as something planned, but it transformed into an approach in which I am very spontaneous and I am always trying out new things. This is something that living in Amsterdam probably taught me. There is so much going on in Amsterdam on different levels, that it helps to be spontaneous once in a while. This way I was able to connect to the dynamic character of the city. The fact that Amsterdam has a rich nightlife, a vivid cultural day life and a historically interesting city character helps a lot in this. Amsterdam is always alive and it breathes change and diversity. It’s the perfect location for an artist like me to be able to blossom and get inspired for the first years of my artistic life.
Your use of colour and texture is quite striking. Are there specific places, people, or emotions in Amsterdam that influences this?
That is a good question. I think inspiration is always in the details. If you take a stroll through the historical city centre it is hard not to get inspired. The unique character of the 17th century ‘grachtengordel’ (the area with the most important canals) and the variety in typical and atypical building facades, are a celebration of shape and composition. Throw me a pencil and a piece of paper and you’ll see me capturing compositions in sketching and by copying these visual treasures. But then if we move further away from the centre to the modern 21st century business area ‘Zuidas’, there is inspiration to find as well. This is a good example of modern architecture and urban planning. The silhouettes I find there form almost direct outlines for some of my paintings and drawings.
Are there other artists that have inspired your own creative journey?
Like I mentioned before. Many artists have inspired me. The most important artist is Kazimir Malevitsj. As one of the main founders of modern art, I owe him gratitude in paving the way for abstract artists. His paintings with a few colours and shapes got me to try to create these myself. I literally copied his work at first to try to capture an idea of what shapes could do if you paint them. But not only his aesthetic style formed the start of my artistic career. The idea that we are free to use colour and form in any way we want, liberated the artworld from a conservative approach. The same happened to me. In a way his body of work convinced me I basically could do anything I want. As long as it feels right.
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