About Us

Toyists

Toyism is a contemporary art movement that originated in the 1992 in the Netherlands. The word symbolises the playful character of our artworks and the philosophy behind it. And the suffix ‘ism’ refers to motion or movements. The game of toyism is a serious matter that shows a new, critical and sensitive perspective on our present-day world. The art that is made is figurative, contemporary and based on a story. Not everyone likes art, but everyone likes a good story. Every Toyism artwork is made with the greatest possible attention for detail and with impeccable craftsmanship.

I Play, Therefore I Am

In addition to rules, a game also requires a story. In Toyism, a story that evokes personal reflection on the part of the viewer is essential. The intense play of lines, shapes, dots and colors is intended to open the viewer’s mind to critical thinking about the human condition in today’s world. Stories are revealed through symbols, bright colors and extremely precise details. Toyism is a contemporary art movement that seeks to rediscover the meaning of painting, without attempting to overthrow postmodernism.

The art world is constantly experimenting with the latest techniques and styles, often exciting but also disappointing. Art has been an ongoing process of demolition and reconstruction, like a sandcastle on the beach that is repeatedly destroyed and repaired by a child. It seems that the main purpose of an art movement is to attack the previous movement and then start a riot that will save the art world. The entire history of art can be seen as a succession of action and reaction. All art comes from other art, all art is hybrid.

Artists in Toyism operate as a movement, instead of separate individuals, hence one Toyist cannot be seen as more important or famous than the other. There is no rivalry among the artists. The evident message we carry out is that the artworks count, not the artist itself that has created it. Although the artists do make their own art, in many occasions we work together, which means that the produced artwork cannot be attributed to a single artist.

Every Toyist that joins the group chooses a pseudonym (pen name) starting with one of the available letters from the alphabet, a letter not yet in use by another Toyist. This means that the group cannot be represented by more than 26 artists. Every single Toyist chooses a so-called avatar, a puppet representing the artist. Toyists never show their faces (in videos/photos), but wear masks to draw attention to the art. Toyists only recognize themselves in their creations, in which they leave their mark on the world as individuals and as a collective.

Manifesto Mother

Our manifesto Mother (written by Dejo/founder of Toyism) contains a palette of ingredients from which mainly paintings, but lately also sculptures, silkscreens, jewelry and glass art emerge. The manifesto is only meant to be read by the attending artists. The artworks can be seen as children of Mother and one or more parents (the artists). A parent can be either a man, woman or non-binary, or even more artists representing one parent next to Mother. This can be established because of the anonymous characteristics of the parents. Every parent mixes ideas and characteristics with properties of Mother. This strongly connects the children, after all they arose from Mother.

BE(COME) A TOYIST

The Toyism Art Movement is certainly open to new artists and will be limited to 26 before no more pseudonyms can be assumed. First step in the process is contacting the Toyism Studio to express interest. Upon joining the group, each Toyist selects a pseudonym that must begin with a letter of the alphabet not already in use by another toyist. After this point, and regardless of how one signs his or her rent checks, the artist signs all works with the chosen pseudonym. Why? It’s a collective, you see. It’s faceless. Fans of Toyism are not meant to single out John Q. Famous Artist or Jane Dough, Media Darling.

Go ahead and write if this sounds like your style. Life is short.

TOYISM 1992 – Present

“Once upon a time, in an basement in the city of Emmen, Netherlands, an art movement named “Toyism” was born from one Mother and many partners.” Doesn’t that sound like a good story starter? Actually, the time was 1992, Mother is an inanimate object and the partners may be male, female or non-binary – but none of these facts detract from the good story part.

Toyism came about partly as a countermeasure to two decades’ worth of that which might be construed as an increasing “anything goes” Post-Modern individualism. The 1970s-1990s environment, that fostered works such as a fleck of human faces on a piece of paper, was long on sensation but often short on traditional skills. Fittingly, toyism was born in the Netherlands where the time-honored craft of painting never quite went out of fashion.

Toyism; Not For Babies

Play with art? Can you play with art? The Toyism artists think you can. They campaign against the common laws of art. They use playing as a starting point for a new sort of art and they lay down their artistic credo – which handles usage of form, style and vivid colours – in a manifesto.

These were the first words from Frans Haks, former manager of the museum of Groningen, opening the Toyism exhibition “TOYISM NOT FOR BABIES”, held in 2004 at a large art gallery in the south of Holland. Unfortunately Frans is no longer among us, but Toyism still operates similarly.

Mother

This manifesto can be seen as the mother of all their works of art and it is stated as a notarial deed in 1993. Its content is known only by the Toyists and will not be revealed to the public. Things like usage of colour, technique, form etc… are mentioned here. But of course it is the artist himself/herself determining what he/she produces. Mother always leaves traces of DNA in them. Mother relates to a partner, a male, female or non-binary artist. This partner also leaves its traces of DNA. Their relationship produces offspring, children representing Toyism art pieces.

The artworks always contain characteristics of both, Mother and her partner. But, because there are different partners, (Mother isn’t very particular 🙂 all the children are different too. Someone from Malaysia has another background and culture than, for instance, somebody living in Iceland or the Netherlands. This is a nice phenomenon, because that person uses its own ideas, opinions and notions in the Toyism style, causing a true enrichment, the style becomes even more interesting.

Playground of Human Experience

Characterized by its bold lines, exaggerated proportions, and intricate detailing, Toyism art captivates the eye and captivates the mind, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in a world where anything is possible.  From whimsical characters and fantastical landscapes to thought-provoking narratives and social commentary, Toyism art encompasses a diverse range of themes and styles, each one a testament to the boundless creativity of its creators.

Yet, beneath the surface of their artistry lies a profound sense of empathy and compassion. The Toyists are not content merely to create; they seek to connect, to stir something within the observer that transcends the boundaries of language and culture. Their art becomes a conduit for understanding, a bridge between worlds, inviting all who dare to glimpse its depths to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Join the movement

Toyism is for everyone, but not everyone can be a Toyist. Are you an artist and do you want to work in the Toyism Art Movement? Then fill out the form below, tell us something about yourself, what do you love about Toyism and why do you want to be a Toyist?

And find out if you have what it takes to be part of the movement.