Jan Wessendorp

Johannes George (Jan) Wessendorp, born in 1940 in Surabaya (Indonesia), started at the MTS voor de Fotografie en Fototechniek, The Hague before pursuing his artistic desire and education at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, The Haque, specialising in painting, drawing and design technique. He became lecturer in Drawing, Colour and Form Technique at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten St. Joost, Breda and was one of the apprentices of Paul Citroen, Rein Draijer, and Hugo Liebe.

Primarily a painter, Jan Wessendorp is a versatile artist whose works range from drawing and graphic to plastic arts (sculpture). Wessendorp creates figures and characters that show openness, even vulnerability, yet they are never defenceless let alone aggressive. They manifest themselves by their unusual look and posture. Despite their subdued emotions, one can sense the fear, compassion, happiness, loneliness and even some love there.

Wessendorp appears from time to time to have the need to break through his silent contemplation. The frame around the canvas no longer restrains his ideas, thoughts and creativity within and upon its fabric, it rather now becomes part of the artwork. In some, it has resulted in an autonomous entity with its own shape, materials and meaning.

His works have been collected by a number of museums and national organisations across The Netherlands and Belgium. His graphic piece paired with poetry by Albert Hagenaars is now in the collection of Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven. In collaboration with Auke van der Heide, he created the striking  sculptural landscape object, titled “De Emmer van Toen is de Buis van Nu”, a concrete tower adorned with zinc buckets, in the vicinity of the utilitarian waste water treatment plant.

Artist’s Statement (freely translated)

“Art is embedded in nature and they who can extract it, have it.” (Albrecht Dürer)

This quote by Albrecht Dürer is the guideline in my work and life. It not only relates to nature, which becomes visible around us as an object world, but also, as far as we are nature ourselves, to our physical and intelligent existence. Nature makes herself known in us as our own special nature and specific talent. This quality determines the kind of attention for that object world, through which a world of ideas and feelings opens up. The artist’s struggle is to arrive at a distinct form of experience that is then expressed in a specific painterly ability. The development of vision, originality and expression is determined by an uninterrupted self-education and training, in all aspects of the artist’s life. In doing so, all lower impulses become subservient to the higher and are absorbed! 

“Art is hidden in nature” 

Artistic image is not so much supported by external characteristics, but even more by substantive implications, which are the result of that growing consciousness. The possibility to move and communicate in art: to set the viewer inwardly in motion and thus to encourage a self-experience, does not lie in the passionate desire of the maker to communicate himself, to influence others, or in the lust of design. This possibility lies in the artist’s ability to create from the source of life that he has been able to tap into and to which he has been able to give an authentic visual form! 

“Whoever can extract it, have it!” 

Jan Wessendorp


1940, Surabaya, Indonesia

MTS voor de Fotografie en Fototechniek, The Hague
Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, The Haque, specialising in painting, drawing and design technique

Artist Bio

Collected Works

Collection of the State of The Netherlands
Rijksdienst Verspreide Kunstvoorwerpen (currently: Collectie Nederland)
Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven
Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library), Brussels, Belgium
Museum Plantyn-Moretus, Antwerp, Belgium
Museum De Beyerd, Breda
Kunstcollectie Rabobank Nederland (Art Collection Rabobank Nederland)
Museum Het Markiezenhof, Bergen op Zoom
Municipality Bergen op Zoom
Municipality Roosendaal
Municipality Woensdrecht
Art Borrow Artotheek 18, Bergen op Zoom/Roosendaal
Art Borrow Artotheek Breda


Selected Exhibitions

Teder Indringend, Gallery Lukisan, Bergen op Zoom

HOMM’AGE À TROIS – SynapsZ Kunstcollectief eert Fons Gieles, Joop Mijsbergen en Jan Wessendorp at the Markiezenhof, Bergen op Zoom

Double exhibition in the former sugar plant De Zeeland, Markiezaatsweg 17, Bergen op Zoom


Grants & Awards

Knight of the Royal Order of Orange-Nassau

Sakko Award, Bergen op Zoom

WVC Prize to Italy



Lecturer Drawing, Colour and Form Technique at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten St. Joost, Breda



Jan Wessendorp, beeldend kunstenaar
“De Emmer van Toen is de Buis van Nu” – in collaboration with Auke van der Heide