Seeing Toon Teeken, Fotoboeken 1968-2015 & Recent Work at the Bonnefantenmuseum

At the Bonnefantenmuseum the solo show of Toon Teeken: Fotoboeken 1968-2015 & Recent Work.


In this show, the first thing encountered are some of Teeken’s fotoboeken [photo books]. He started gathering his photographs into books in 1968, and over the years has added to them, having made a staggering 98 books by 2015. The early books were simple photo books where he put family photographs. Over time the compositions evolved to be more complex and collage-like, incorporating newspaper cuttings, handwritten text, and drawings.

Teeken originally made these for his own use, and never intended them to be exhibited. In addition to this exhibition, a book has been made from them, Toon Teeken De Fotoboeken, which reproduces a selection of 400 spreads from the books.


Letters to Survivors, (2013-2015)

A set of 252 drawings, pencil on paper.


Recent Work

Looking around the space, the pieces that I was drawn to were Read my Lips (2012), followed by External Brain 7, External Brain 11, External Brain 4, External Brain 8, External Brain 2, External Brain 5.


Film Toon Teeken

Accompanying the expo, a 12 minute film where Teeken explains his work.



This was an interesting solo exhibition, perhaps overshadowed by Perry’s Hold Your Belief’s Lightly which was on at the same time. It was a smaller exhibit that Perry’s and occupied the space on the third floor. I wonder how may spectators for Perry’s exhibition on the second floor missed the opportunity to climb the stairs to the third floor to see this. Unless you are familiar with the Bonnefantenmuseum it is very easy to mistake the small metal staircases leading to the third floor as simply an emergency route. The small signage, a small laminated poster does not help, especially when compared to the painted wall for Perry’s exhibition that you can’t fail to see when ascending the main staircase.

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The fotobooks were interesting, but I was more fascinated by Letters to Survivors and could not find any detailed information about this. The film Film Toon Teeken provided a fascinating insight into the work, and highlights issue of the informed versus uninformed spectator. For example, Read my Lips took on a new aspect when I learnt that the colors were not random but took on a code that could be read and the methodology behind this was presented in the working notes for this work.

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