Toon Teeken


“I paint to clarify my relationship to things and the world,” says Toon Teeken. The artist, painter and draughtsman, born in Heerlen in 1944, incorporates the relationships between his inner world and the perception of the foolish outside world in his drawings, gouaches and paintings. For this Teeken uses new symbols and cliché images, to which he adds new meanings.

Teeken, who studied from 1962 to 1966 at the City Academy for Applied Arts and from 1968 to 1971 at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, draws his inspiration from language, letters, signs, photos of dancers and images of prominent artists and musicians. He uses these sources of inspiration to evade the commonly used credo ‘Less is more’; his whirling world of people, animals, cartoon characters and Pinocchio in vivid colors expresses Teeken’s creed ‘More is more’.

The travels the artist has made to Africa and Surinam have ensured that he started to apply new motifs and compositions in his creations. Another source of inspiration for Teeken are the retrospective exhibitions by writer and artist Marcel Broodthaers in Brussels. Teeken feels connected to the ideas of this remarkable visual and language artist. That is why he has incorporated Broodthaers’ portrait into his paintings several times.

Teeken has exhibited his work at, among others, the Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen, the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam, the City Gallery Heerlen, the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht and the Free University in Amsterdam. His art is included in the collections of museums, companies and institutions, including the Centraal Museum Utrecht and the Museum van Bommel van Dam in Venlo. Several books have been written about the artist, such as ‘More is More’ from 2006, but he has also been working on photo books for more than forty years. Teeken, who received the Royal Subsidy for Free Painting in 1978, currently lives and works in Maastricht.