Get Familiar: Jan Hoek

Get Familiar: Jan Hoek
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Over the last two years, Patta worked together with artists Regilio Benjamin and Desmond Tjon-A-Koy who both are part of the Outsider Art Galerie, and they developed two shirts together that are literally like wearable art. Both Regilio and Desmond are part of the Outsider Art Galerie and now also part of the Patta family. This collaboration was part of the project Outsiderwear in which the most unique designers were connected with the most talented artists from the world of so called “outsider art” where you can find artists that are not part of the rest of the art world for example because their brains are so unique that they sometimes need a bit of extra care.⁠ The Outsiders project is run by contemporary artist Jan Hoek. The Amsterdam based creative sat down with us on the eve of Patta and Outsiderlands exhibition at Outsiderland that will be taking place from November 4th until November 28th. 

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and let us know what you do?
My name is Jan Hoek and I am an artist from Amsterdam. Besides to that I run a foundation that want to bring the world of so called "outsider art" together with the rest of the art world and creative industry. In the world of "outsider art" u find for example artists with down syndrome or a homeless background. So I started Outsiderland, an art space within Sexyland World in Amsterdam-Noord where these two group of artists can come together and show their work in one space. And I also started Outsiderwear, a project in which I connected 14 different designers with one or more talented artists from the world of "outsider art".

How did art enter your life?
My mom always took me to museum when I was really young. She is the founder of an art magazine, and when I was 12 we already worked on that together on the kitchen table.

What artists did you admire growing up?
I loved Cindy Sherman, and I saw her exhibition in Kunsthal when I was 12. There I saw huge colorful photographs of vomit in a way that it looked like it was the landscape on a undiscovered planet. And also her self portraits in which each time she completely transformed into someone else. There i saw how art can really change your look on what is beautiful and not.

How has the lockdown affected your creative process?
Actually not so much, I had more time to draw myself and that I enjoyed. But at the same time I was also starting Outsiderland and finishing Outsiderwear, so I still was quite busy.


You recently had a show open, how did that go?
I had my own solo show in Galerie Vriend Van Bavink. It was a show in which people could decide themselves in which price category they wanted to buy my work. So u can choose for yourself if you are rich and pay the official price, when u have a "normal" job u pay half of the price and when u are low in money u just pay 15% of the price. I think art should not only be accessible for the richest people on earth. And it really worked, there were a lot of young people who now could afford a work.


What is the Outsiderwear project?
In my own studio I have the incredibly talented artist Bruin Parry working. He is a great drawer, the best Michael Jackson-dancer and a free spirit, and he also has down syndrome. I take care of him already his whole life. At a certain moment I felt I didn't want to be a babysitter anymore forever, and we brought it to a new step: Bruin started working in my studio. That was so inspiring for me, and also nice for Bruin who don't want to make art with only other people with down, that I thought: more creatives from these two separated worlds should be connected. When Bruin and me started our own underwear line, I decided to start with a fashion project. I approached for example Duran Lantink, Bonne Suits, Parra, and many more designers and they all wanted to collaborate.

What are your goals with the collective?
Right now, when u are an artist with down syndrome, it's very unlikely you will ever be part of group show in Stedelijk Museum because you are not in the "right" art circuit. That is a form of exclusion that needs to end. At the moment artists from the two art worlds make things together the art world doesn't know how to label it anymore: is it "outsider art" or "normal" art? I believe that's a first step to break these labels open and go to a world where we realise that nobody is normal and we all can be proud on that.

What issues did you aim to attend to when you started the initiative?
Well because of Corona, we had to postpone the whole presentation of Outsiderwear. In the end that was a blessing, because it gave every collaboration so much more time to work together and really go into the depth. I think that without any exception every collaboration says they want to continue collaborating also after the project.

How was the the Melkweg show during the Outsiderland Festival for you?
The fashion we had with all the collaborations in Melkweg was for me really the cherry on top of the cake. It was such a colorful neuro diverse crowd and on stage a lot times it was quite difficult to see who was of the world of "outsider art" and who was a famous designer, because nobody looked normal and by that being not normal became normal. For me that is how the world should be.
Here you can you see the whole fashion show.

How did you meet Vincent van de Waal and Gee?
I think it started because of Stephen Tayo, my best friend in Lagos (Nigeria) with whom I often collaborate. Patta also worked with him in Lagos and Stephen was always talking about Gee and how good Gee was for him. So I needed my Nigerian best friend to cross paths with Gee and Vincent who actually just live very close in Amsterdam.

This first collaboration between Outsider and Patta features two very talented artists, can you let us know a bit about them?

Besides being a former world champion for running the 100 metres track, Regillio Benjamin is also a visual artist. Athletics and sport are his biggest passion, but his paintings are also very impressive. With a lot of feel for colors, Regillio creates abstract paintings in which you can see running tracks that slowly turn into more abstract prints inspired by fabrics from Surinam. Patta also considers sports to be very important, that is why they created a shirt with one of his paintings. In this collaboration they have explored the ways to create a unique design that shows the enjoyment of running.

Desmond Tjon-A-Koy works mainly with pencil and fineliner on themes that are either about rap culture or are inspired religiously or culturally. He draws, amongst other things, portraits of black icons like Naomi Campbell, Aaliyah and Tupac Shakur. But his drawings are about much more than that, he is working on his own mythology with made up characters that are fighting against all sorts of demons and monsters. Desmond and the guys from Patta have an obvious connection when it comes to music. Together they will bring an ode to Westcoast MC Eiht from Compton. In addition, Desmond has been working on his own film for quite some time, and Patta will help finish this work of art. Both artists are part of the Outsider Art Galerie, an neuro-diverse atelier in Amsterdam.


What is the event this Thursday all about?
Then finally the shirts will be presented that Desmond Tjon-A-Koy and Regillio Benjamin made together with Patta. And we will have a little launch party from 18.00 till 22.00 in Outsiderland in Sexyland World.

What is the future like for Jan Hoek?
That's a big question. I will answer it small: I'm collecting pens, and so does Sol, the child of Aukje Dekker, and we are planning to do an expo where we showcase all our different special pens. I have pens in the shape of an alien, a finger, and a baguette.
Words by Passion Dzenga
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