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Kim Streur: A4 artist spotlight

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

This week we are talking to Kim Streur, a visual artist based in Amsterdam who works primarily on paper, who combines drawing techniques with prints of vegetation, exploring the possibilities of paper as a specific place, as a landscape of “the wandering mind”.

Image description: a landscape poster showing a detail of white paper with a hazy yellow corners. At each side is a black and white print of vegetation that appears torn. Bold grey text in the centre reads Kim Streur, underneath in a smaller font reads @kimstreur.

Can you introduce yourself and give a short description of the work you make?

I live in Amsterdam and my studio is just outside the city, in a barn on a farm. In the morning I cycle through the busy city, then I pass under a motorway and suddenly I am in a rural area. I love this transition, this contrast between city and countryside, and I like the border area itself. It is a space that has not yet been exactly filled in. All kinds of weeds grow there, including plants with large leaves. I take these leaves to my studio to make prints of them.

In the first years after I graduated from the art academy I made large paintings, but since then I have been working on paper for a long time. I appreciate that I can stack paper, you don't need that much space to store it. I draw the thoughts and images that are in my head, and examine them in series. Some drawings are worth keeping, others disappear under dark ink. I use those dark sheets as a background for the vegetation-prints.

When I have an exhibition, I simply take a pile of work under my arm. In the exhibition space I combine vegetation prints and drawings in one large work. These composite works are called “Into the Woods”. This transition is magical – from a simple stack of paper, through the unfolding, to a work more monumental than my earlier canvases.

Your multimedia piece 'Between the edges' is currently showing in our A4 group exhibition. Can you tell us about the process behind this piece?

The work stems from the concept of “edge” – what exactly is that? I have made a series of A4 works with the notion of “edge” in mind. Some 'edges' are in the middle as a loose shape, sometimes I have made the paper itself an edge by cutting out so many circles that only an edge remains. In ‘Between the edges’ the depicted edges coincide with the edges of the paper. In between is an empty space, the white of the paper itself, surrounded by a radiant lemon yellow. In other words: the space between the edges is illuminated.

Kim Streur, Between the edges, ink, vegetation print, and pastel on paper, 2021

Image description: an A4 portrait orientated piece showing a detail of white paper with a hazy yellow corners. At each side is a black and white print of vegetation that appears torn.

In your piece you combine different mediums like ink, Pastel and print. What drew you to combining these materials? And do you use this process a lot within your work.

I like that ink is fluid and unpredictable. Moreover, I find it fascinating that paper absorbs ink so greedily. That is why I always combine vegetation printing with ink. Pastel is so different! It is dry and powdery, it stays on the surface of the paper. Pastel is all about colour. The lemon yellow can't be produced by ink, at least not so bright. I pulverize the piece of chalk into powder and then apply the powder to the paper with cotton wool. It's like applying pure colour to the paper. My work is always about contrasts, about reaction and counter-reaction. The liquid drawing ink is contrasted by the dry pastel-pigment.

Your work contains very striking and minimal colours. How do you approach colour in your work?

Colour is an ingredient, as a shape or a material. Each colour means something different, evokes a different mood, a different feeling. The colours of the A4 work are white, dark, and lemon yellow. Dark is the colour of forest soil as I remember it from my earliest childhood. In the dark you see white lines – prints of vegetation made with white ink. It is an opaque white, like snow. It reminds me of a German winter forest.

The yellow is a bright lemon yellow. In my experience it touches on gold, on the way gold is used in medieval icons: to highlight an image to emphasize how special it is. I use the lemon yellow in the same way: to ‘illuminate’ the images.

Kim Streur, The Holy Soil, ink, pastel on wrinkled paper, 2021

Image description: a stack of crumpled black sheets of paper that appear to float above a highly saturated yellow sheet of paper placed onto a concrete floor.

You have stated that your work explores the possibilities of paper as a specific place. How do you go about portraying this?

I experience a blank sheet of paper very strongly as a space, a place. It's not just a substrate. It is a void that your gaze can enter. When I draw an image, I try to hold on that feeling of space, to let the white be a place in which the images 'float' - like thoughts floating in your mind.

At the same time, paper is also a very material thing, you can wrinkle it, fold it, weaken it with watery ink. I therefore also investigate its material aspects. This is where the vegetation prints come from, for example. I do not see drawings and vegetation prints as separate works. It’s like a pendulum swinging between two extremes, they share the same hinge point, come from the same place.

What inspires you to create a new piece of artwork?

As I said before, it's all about reaction and counter-reaction. One work irrevocably leads to a new work. I look at what happens on the paper, and I react to that again, it gives me new ideas, new associations. Inspiration actually can come from anywhere, things I see, hear or read. Sometimes a material can give the impetus. For example, I now use ink in combination with salt. Salt is even more greedy than paper and immediately absorbs the ink, if you let the surface dry up and then wipe the salt away, you see small white dots in the dried ink - like stars, or like crackle, or barnacles. It is exciting to work with. At the same time, the associations that the salt itself evokes are important to me: the sea is salt, tears are salt. Salt bites – it's not a friendly material. This creates a cluster of associations in my head, which makes me want to delve deeper.

The artist in their studio, 2021

Image description: the artist works barefoot in their studio sprinkling salt onto a large sheet of paper with a gestural wing shape painted in ink. Similar ink drawings of various sizes are pinned to the wall, whilst others lay propped against the floor.

Much of your work incorporates images of vegetation. Is it important for you to reference nature in your work?

The reference is to what nature stands for, a place where thoughts become more free. When you walk through nature, through a forest, there is a moment when thoughts start to flow more freely. By placing my drawings in that environment, I try to indicate something of the condition and the place where they belong, a place that you can move through - with your eyes, with your thoughts.

Is there one thing that you would like to change about the art industry today?

When it comes to the value of art, it is too often about money, what culture yields economically, or – on a smaller scale – what is the sale’s value of an artwork. Art as a commodity and the artist as a trader. This approach completely ignores that the real value of it has nothing to do with trade. The value of art is in the experience it can evoke, the value of what you see, hear, think – in a sense the value of life itself. Here too I see a similarity between art and nature. If we walk through a forest, and we tell someone else about that experience, we don't talk about the sale’s value of the timber, do we?

Kim Streur, Into the Woods (A winter’s journey/shifting thoughts), installation, 2021

Image description: a floor installation involving a neat, geometric layout of numerous A4 artworks on paper, including black and white vegetation prints as well as black and yellow ink drawings on white paper. A larger black and white print rests against the wall across from two small balls, one black and the other yellow.

Do you know what you will be making next?

A work like 'Into the woods' never ends. It grows and expands. New vegetation prints and drawings will be added, and new areas will be discovered. At the moment I work with Prussian blue ink and salt, in combination with wing shapes. While exploring the possibilities of these new basic elements, a 'wing field' is created, a place outside the forest.

Making art is a collaboration between me and the material. I have to look closely at what is being created on the paper and I have to listen carefully to the associations it evokes. These associations are really important – because they can develop into stories that give a place its special value.

If you would like to see more of Kim's work you can find more on their website at as well as on Instagram @kimstreur.

Kim's work alongside others can still be viewed in our A4 group exhibition on our website as well as physical locations around Digbeth.

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