Credits: Jan Hendrix, The Yagul tapestries III, 2018. Photo: Oak Taylor Smith

The exhibition was previously presented in the MUAC, in Mexico. In Tierra Firme (meaning 'mainland'), Hendrix refers to sighting the coastline; a mythical allusion to colonialism and to a revision of natural history. The exhibition thus gives a reflection of the role played by engravings and drawings in the representation of the first phase of globalisation.


Ever since his studies at the Jan van Eyck Academy, Jan Hendrix has felt drawn to the idea of the traveller, as seen in various engravings, books, photo albums and documentaries. His own experience as an immigrant has also influenced his relationship to graphic art and how it has contributed to the representation of the world. Hendrix's work forms a reinterpretation of the natural history written by artist-travellers and the stories about the landscape and political landscape that went hand in hand with European colonisation. Based on his analytical vision of the relationship between the landscape and its representation on paper, Hendrix developed some monumental series, resulting in a style that is a cross between research and evocation, such as the work Script (2000-2002).

Landscape illustrations

Hendrix has worked intensively with various international writers on creating some special books in limited editions. One of the books on display in the exhibition is Book VI of the Aeneid, with poetry by Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel prize for literature and a poet with whom Hendrix feels a great affinity. The translation of the book was completed in July 2013, one month before Heaney's death. Three years later, Hendrix illustrated the book with lithographs showing black surfaces that represent silhouettes of cactuses and the landscape of Yagul (Mexico). The black contrasts with extremely fine white lines that refer to ravines, spines and nerve endings. The prints were eventually turned into a series of large monumental Jacquard tapestries, which are also shown in the exhibition.

Jan Hendrix

Visual artist Jan Hendrix was born in Maasbree (the Netherlands) in 1949. At the age of seventeen, he started studying at the Art Academy in Den Bosch, but he had to interrupt his studies prematurely. In 1968, on the recommendation of the Japanese artist Shinkichi Tajiri, Hendrix began studying at Ateliers 63, in Haarlem, a very progressive artists' workshop. On successfully completing this course, he was advised by artist JCJ van der Heyden to continue his studies. So from 1971 to 1975, Hendrix went on to do a Master's degree at the Jan van Eyck Academy, in Maastricht, where he focused on film, photography and graphic art. In 1975, he was awarded a study grant by the Dutch Ministry of Culture, which he used to travel to Mexico to study the landscape there. Over the past 40 years, Hendrix has exhibited his work in museums and galleries all over the world.

Exhibition and publication

Tierra Firme is a collaboration between the MUAC in Mexico and the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. It will be shown in the Bonnefantenmuseum from 26 November 2019 to 26 April 2020. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue entitled Jan Hendrix: Tierra Firme, which is available from the Bonnefantenmuseum.

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