Willem Holtrop

Dutch, Amsterdam



‘I aestheticise the countless and quickly changing images that surround us by creating a possibility to contemplate.’


At the Frank

Mohr Institute, Willem Holtrop’s approach to painting changed from analytical to practical. He started to paint instead of making installations about the characteristics of painting. Unlike the masters of the past, he was not educated as a craftsman, which he finds to be both a blessing and a curse. His process starts either with a figure (for example, a film still of a woman) or with the backdrop (for instance, a landscape). In order to create a narrative, he then searches for the right ‘actors’ in his extensive visual archive that contains many digital images, ranging from old masters to advertisements, movie stills and his own paintings. He digitally edits the depiction to get to know the composition, the lighting, the colours and the shadows of the appropriated images.What can be added to the existing images? This question, as well as the quest for a universal visual language, steers Holtrop’s creative process. The daughter of a warlord places a photograph of a woman performing in the historical context of a royal portrait. The figure from the archive is given a new meaning; the performer becomes a queen or a princess. The detailed portrait is contrasted with unfinished parts such as the peacock: Is it real, is it a marble sculpture on a fountain or is it just a cardboard prop? The tension between telling a story and the lack of information is a way for Holtrop to make the viewer slow down, take the time to reflect and interpret whether or not the painting is part of a bigger story, a meta-narrative.







2009-2013   Bachelor in fine Arts, Hogeschool van de Kunsten Utrecht, Utrecht (with honors)


2015-2016   Master of Arctic research, Hogeschool van de Kunsten Utrecht, Utrecht


2015-2016   BAK Learning place, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht


2016-2018   Master of Painting, The Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen






2013 - Graduation show HKU, Group Show, Hogeschool van de Kunsten Utrecht, Utrecht

Amongst featured artists: Ingmar König, Doenja Likumahua, Matea Bakula


2016 - Graduation Show MaHKU, Group Show, Academiegalerie, Utrecht

Curated by ; Markus Miesen

Co-Produced by: Henk Slager, Maria Hlajova

Amongst featured artists: Marija Angelovska, Ola Hassanain, Felipe Zapata, Chego Check


2016 - “Four Artists, 30 min. of spit”, Group Performance, Basis voor Actuele Kunst , Utrecht

Participating artists: Felippe Zepatta, Marija Angelovska , Chego Chek


2016 - Artist and Curator, Group Show, Koepelzaal Praediniussingel, Groningen

Curated by: Belinda Hak

Amongst featuring: Lisa Smithson , Wouter van der Laan, Hannes Arvid Andersson


2017 - a Closer look at Painting, Group Show, Koepelzaal Praediniussingel, Groningen                                .

Amongst featured artists: Jochem van de Wijngaard, Irene de Boer


2017 - FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Group Museum Show, Drents Museum - De Nieuwe Kolk, Assen

Amongst featured artists: Irene de Boer, Liao Zhixin, Nokukhanya Langa


2017 - Work in Progress 2.0the Sequel, Groep Show, Drents Museum, de Nieuwe Kolk, Assen

Amongst featured artists:


2018 - Filler II, Group show, Sign Project Space, Groningen

Amongst featured artists: Joris Strouken, Kristel Geerts, Wayne Horse, Takeshi Ikeda


2018 - Kill the curator, Group Show, Koepelzaal Praediniussingel, Groningen

Collaboratif installation with: Carmen Hartmann


2018 - Tiny Art Exhibition,Group show,  Living Gallery, Turfsingel 66B, Groningen

Curated by: Anna-Rosja Haveman, Vanessa van t’ Hoogt

Amongst featured artists: Irene de Boer, Jochem van de Wijngaard, Roos van Dijk


2018 - Platform for Talks, Group show, Koepelzaal Praediniussingel, Groningen

Amongst featured artists: Koen van Zandvoort,  Henry Byrne, Andriana Plagketi, Roos van Dijk


2018 - Headliners: Master in Painting, Graduation Show FMI, Suikerunie, Groningen.

Curated by: Ruud Akse

Amongst featured artists: Irene de Boer, Roos van Dijk, Liao Zhixin, Nokukhanya Langa,  Lisa Smithson




Job Positions


2017 Co-Curator, FOMO, Group Show, Drents Museum - De nieuw Kolk, Assen


2017 - 2018   Teacher function, STEK Art collective, Ermelo


2017 - 2018   Member of Accreditation Committee, Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen


2017 - 2018   Member of Admission Committee, Frank Mohr Instituut, Groningen