The issues that Dieuwke Spaans raises in her work relate to the limits of knowledge and the reality that lies beyond reality, the subjectivity of our perception, and – ultimately – our inevitable break with the familiar. Spaans provides the viewer with elements for an experience of that abstract realm without defining this further. She brings various visual elements and materials together, then leaves it up to the viewer to amalgamate them in such a way that they form a ‘spectacle’ which is greater than the sum of its parts. In doing this she fluctuates between the two poles that characterized her earlier works, namely (at one end of the spectrum) the narrative aspect and (at the other) pure abstraction. Dieuwke Spaans is well known for her collages that are made up of what she calls ‘everyday images’. Those everyday images are existing images: pages from books, empty pages—in every possible gradation of white—photographs, writing, fragments that she snatches away from their original contexts in order to use them as building blocks for a new reality. Sometimes her work contains references to everyday images or objects that are fictitious like e.g. in her works in ceramics and porcelain. In a casual manner she consequently associates her work with the contemporary discourse in which the current relevance of tradition is sought.
Dieuwke Spaans was born in Rheden in the Netherlands, in 1973. She lives and works in Amsterdam. She obtained her Master’s degree at the Ateliers Arnhem and was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (NL) from 2001 to 2003. A residency followed in 2005 at Delfina in London (UK) and in 2007 at Projektstudio Berlin, in Berlin (DE). In 2020 and 2018 she was a resident at the EKWC, Europees Keramisch Werkcentrum in Oisterwijk (NL). Spaans won various prizes, including the Royal Award for Painting in 1997 and 1998. Among the locations where her work has been shown are The Whitehouse Gallery, Lovenjoel (2022, BE); Museum Kranenburgh, Bergen (2018, NL); Stadsarchief, Amsterdam (2016, NL); De Vishal, Haarlem (2015, NL); Museum Arnhem, Arnhem (2014, NL); Frankendael Foundation, Amsterdam (2014, NL); Kunstvereniging Diepenheim, Diepenheim (2014, NL); Manifesta Office, Amsterdam (2013, NL); Nest, The Hague (2013, NL); Museum Hilversum, Hilversum (2012, NL); Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Schiedam (2011, NL). AMC Art Collection, Amsterdam (2011, NL). The work of Dieuwke Spaans is included in private and public collections within the Netherlands and abroad.