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De Stip - Live with energy situated at Dordsestraat in Emmen

Toyism is a "contemporary art movement that originated in the 1990s in "Emmen. The word "symbolises the playful character of the artworks and the "philosophy behind it. The suffix ‘ism’ refers to motion or movements that exist in both the world of art and religion. Nevertheless, the game of Toyism is a serious matter that shows a new, critical and sensitive perspective on our present-day world.



Escape of computer spiders, by Dejo, 1990

Toyism as art movement is a reaction on the "post-modern world of "individualism, which existed in the 1970s through the 1990s, the era in which “everything is allowed”. The name originated in 1990 when Toyist Dejo made a graphic work which was titled "Escape of computer spiders " . It was this work and later similar works that were the origin of the style at the beginning of the nineties. However, it took another two years before this resulted in a manifest.[1] On September the 5th 1992 artist and musician Dejo ("pseudonym) from "Emmen writes a "manifesto called Mother and introduces Toyism to the audience.


Toyism can be split in two different periods, the period 1992 until 2000 and 2002 until the present.


A couple of months after the manifesto was written, two other artists form Emmen joined the movement. In the first period mostly the themes were worked out in a surrealistic manner and the returning presence of fixed icons (computer, space shuttle and teddy-bear) in their "paintings. These icons represented the attending artists. The first exhibition was on February 24, 1993 in Het Veenpark. One year after the foundation work was exhibited in "New York City.[2][3] At the base was a "figurative style with uniform areas of colour and simplistic elements that where inspired by "Super Mario and the game console "Nintendo.[2] After the triumvirate fell apart, founder Dejo decided to make a world-trip and gets inspired to make Toyism more international and open.


After his world-trip Dejo rewrote the manifesto and gave other artists access to join the movement. As from 2002 the group of artists grows exponentially and artists from every corner of the earth decide to participate ("Thailand, "South Africa, "Malaysia, "United States, "Iceland, "Mexico, "Peru, "Italy, "Australia, "Canada, "Belgium, "the Netherlands, "Romania).


Present day the toyists have created 777 works of art, varying from paintings to sculptures and buildings. The toyists had a permanent studio/gallery in Emmen until 2015. In the same year they relocated their headquarters to the city of "Groningen. They now have a gallery in Villa Heymans next to the "Groninger Museum.


The "philosophy of Toyism is that the artists operate as a collective, 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 they 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 the toyists work together, which means that the produced artwork cannot be attributed to a single artist.


The secret "manifesto Mother 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 or a woman, or even more artists representing one parent next to Mother. This can be established because of the "anonymous characteristics of the parents, they operate by using a "pseudonym hiding their real "identity for the audience. Every parent mixes ideas and characteristics with properties of Mother. This strongly connects the children, after all they arose from Mother.


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 puppet, an icon representing the artist. By means of this puppet the toyist has its own face towards the public, although he or she is in fact faceless. Toyists never expose their human face (on photo or camera), instead they wear masks to cover their identity.

All the toyists, under their pseudonyms, that have been/or still are part of the movement:[4]



Mind Games[edit]

In 2004 this game concept is devised. Two artists battle against each other and by doing so together they create a composition. Based on existing games like "Tic-tac-toe, "Chess and "Four-in-a-row two main themes (and when applicable sub-themes) are worked out by the participating artists. Mostly the complete artwork consists of separate pieces of art that can be joined together differently, visualising different game situations.

The Dot Project (De Stip)[edit]

The Dot, Emmen, NL

On July 14, 2009 the group is ventured upon an extensive project: painting a spherical "gas storage container, being 22 meters in height and 1250 square meters in surface, situated in Emmen, "Netherlands. The toyists transformed this object within 9 months (6000 hours) into a colourful artwork called "The Dot tells the story about Live with Energy.

Toyism Ka[edit]

A "Ford Ka has been transformed to a driving "artwork which has been moving around the town of "Emmen and eventually was bought by a private person during a public sale.

Elephant Parade 2010[edit]

In 2010 the "Elephant Parade was held in Emmen, the same year in which "Dierenpark Emmen was celebrating its 75th anniversary. For this occasion the toyists designed "E-Phant" (Energy-Phant). Being an extension of the "Living with Energy" project, E-Phant is equipped with "solar collectors in its ears, with which batteries are charged during daytime and twenty surrounding "LED lights per ear shine when it gets dark.

Hotel Ten Cate[edit]

Hotel ten Cate, Emmen, NL

In 2012 the toyists started to completely transform Hotel Ten Cate in Emmen to a huge piece of art. On May 16, 2012 the official reveal took place. The facade was changed into a gigantic painting called 'Dreams for Breakfast'. Inside the hotel one room was changed into a piece of art in which people can go to sleep. In October of the same year another six hotel rooms were delivered and there are more to follow in the coming years. The rooms are not only subject to painting, but their floor-covering and curtains are also revised accordingly. Every room has its own theme, for example ‘Savanne – The Dreaming Lion’, ‘Cinema – Charley Playing the Piano’, ‘Bal Masqué – Hide and Seek’, ‘Underwaterworld – Secrets of the Ocean’.


"Uppspretta, Keflavík, IS

A neglected water tower situated in "Keflavík, "Iceland has been transformed magically by the toyists. The colourful story shown on this object represents the "legend of "Uppspretta. The project was realised during the summer of 2013, enduring very bad weather 11 toyists completed this task in only 6 weeks. With Uppspretta the toyists have done their first step abroad as an artistic "collective.


The toyists are represented by 'Toyisme Studio' in "Groningen.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beek, W. van der (2012) Toyism Behind the Mask. Zwolle: Publisher de Kunst, pp. 10 "ISBN "978-94-91196-20-1
  2. ^ a b Drenthe Kunst Breed in Beeld, DEJO - Toyisme Studio
  3. ^ Peter Sierksma, Het laatste manifest van de eeuw, 9 april 2008
  4. ^ Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie
  5. ^ Prefaced by [(in Dutch)[Frans Haks]], former director of the "Groninger Museum
  6. ^ Anniversary edition (20 years of Toyism) in which art critic/writer Wim van der Beek describes the Toyism movement and their projects in 13 chapters. From this book 100 special editions are released having a cover containing a "three-dimensional hand-painted mask and a silkscreen inside representing Mother.
  7. ^ Edition in which art critic/writer Wim van der Beek describes the "Uppspretta-project in 4 chapters. From this book 100 special editions are released having a jute cover (made out of one of the hessian coffee bags with which the project was covered during realisation) and a silkscreen inside visualising the project.
  8. ^ Frans Haks in Let the Games Begin
  9. ^ Wim van der Beek (September the 7th 2012) during an interview with the Dutch blog Woest en Ledig
  10. ^ Wim van der Beek in Toyism Behind the Mask
  11. ^ Dejo, Kunstspot

External links[edit]

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