It has been said that every artist has a little crazy in them. Some more than others. Enter Fred van der Wal, a self-professed photographer, draftsman, painter and writer whose artwork I quite accidentally came upon. The Dutch artist may be best known in The Netherlands for his pencil drawings but it’s his little known series of beach paintings that caught my eye.
Fred van der Wal Beach Paintings
Describing himself as a “Painter of Realism without looking back at the past, Academics or The Old Masters” finding information on Fred van der Wal, from anyone but the artist himself, was virtually impossible. I couldn’t find his work anywhere but on his own sites and his own social media platforms of which he has many. Because of this savvy self-promotion I was able to get information on his background as well as a look at much of his work.
As I’d mentioned earlier, I came upon a painting of his during a search for god-knows-what and I was immediately drawn to its semi-flat style, subject matter, composition and color palette; which I found reminiscent of Alex Katz. A few clicks on Google later, I found it to be one of an intended series of 20 beach paintings by artist Fred van der Wal. According to the artist, these paintings were turned away by the gallery and he was told they were not good enough.
On his website, the artist breaks his own work into four different categories:. A series of self-portraits drawn in pencil from 1995 to 2012, later pencil drawings that have an Escher-esque quality, a series of Surrealism paintings and what he calls his Realism paintings. He is also an avid blogger who self-publishes via Lulu.com and sells his writings on Amazon.
Upon closer inspection, I saw that some of his beach scenes appeared to have a stippling technique applied to the paint, but not all of them. They have a certain Hockney-meets-Katz feel to them with the long shadows and flat skies. I was also struck by how we are viewing everyone from behind, the subjects blissfully unaware of our voyeurism. While I’m not a fan of his other oeuvres, I really enjoy these particular paintings.
Frederik Willem van der Wal was born in 1942, in The Netherlands, in the village of Renkum at the height of WWII. The artist’s parents, members of the Dutch Resistance, fled from the German Nazi Secret Service in 1944 and sent Fred to live with his grandparents in Amsterdam at age 2. By his own accounts his youth was tragic and eventful and says he was denied government grants and membership to several artists’ associations throughout his career and his work was repeatedly turned down for exhibitions from 1965 until 1972.
Fred worked from 1964-1967 in the village of Heemstede and returned to Amsterdam in 1967 where he became a regular artist at the figurative Galerie Mokum until 1973. During this time the artist says his work was boycotted by the Reformed Christian Artists Association and the Christian Publishing Company Art Revisited for “unknown reasons.” He also goes on to say that the other artists within Galerie Mokum resisted his work claiming it was too modern and more pop art than fine art.
In 1969 he took part in the Dutch Realists exhibition at the Arnhem Municipal Museum. In 1972 Fred joined the Dutch artist association Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam and in 1974 he became a member artist of Pulchri Studio in The Hague. He then left Holland “after 24 years of opposition from the art world” to move to Northern France until 2009 at which point he briefly returned to Holland for 6 months before returning to France where he now lives. He says his work “was still boycotted by the Dutch press and several exhibition spaces and galleries in the Northern Netherlands which amounted in practice to a prolongation of the dutch left wing professional artists ban.”
Also a member of the French Le Groupe Nevers from 2004-2014, the artist claims to have exhibited more than 350 times at one man and group shows in Amsterdam, The Hague, Paris, London, New York between 1966 and 2015.
A prolific blogger, van der Wal has self-published dozens of books on art, literature, photography and autobiography.
Ever-surprising, Fred says he practiced between three different types of martial arts between 1957 and 1995 and in 2015, joined a shooting club in the village where he lived.
See more from and learn more about Fred van de Wal at the following links: