The Etchings of Rolf Weijburg

Rolf Weijburg is a Dutch graphic artist, specializing in color-etching. His work can best be described as ‘travel-stories’, showing colorful images of the places he travels to with details of flora and fauna, architecture, every day life and landscapes intricately fitted together like collages.

Rolf likes to work on projects, in series
Three large series of color-etchings have thus developed these last years: ‘L'Afrique Périphérique – An Atlas of the Islands around Africa’ consisting of over eighty five color-etchings, now completed, and the still growing series ‘Home’ and ‘Local Beauties’.
A new project to create a series of etchings on the 20 smallest independent countries of the world is now in it's preparatory stage and will result in the first large etchings in 2003.

L'Afrique Périphérique
Could it be that the islands around Africa were all compact miniatures of Africa, where sounds and smells and images of the whole continent were conveniently washed ashore more or less untouched by time and preserved by isolation? The islands like an African magnifying glass? It is this idea that took Rolf on his numerous journeys to all the inhabited islands and island groups around Africa between 1985 and 1998. These journeys provided the artist with the inspiration for a large series of etchings showing the immense diversity of all these bits of Africa.
Rolf Weijburg was awarded the Dutch National Prize for the Graphic Arts in 1992, for the etchings of this series up to that point.
A large exhibition with over one hundred works in the Singer Museum in Laren in 2000 marked the completion of this project.
All of the 85 color etchings plus sketches, photographs and accompanying travel stories (in Dutch) are published in the book ‘L' Afrique Périphérique – Een Atlas van de Eilanden rond Afrika’ which was presented at the Singer Museum exhibition.
Almost all of the etchings can be found in the French language edition ‘Mes Carnets des îles’, which was one of eight nominated for the French National Prize for the Artist's Travel Sketchbook 2002.
Many of the etchings of this series are now sold out.

The ‘Home’ series was started upon his return from Yemenite Hadramawt in 1992 with the color-etching ‘Home: Shibam, Hadramawt’. It is a series about houses and about where home is. About all those red dots on the map. The houses they consist of, the people who live in them. Home away from Home.

Local Beauties
Years ago the artist received a postcard from Sri Lanka. The card was divided into four rectangles with ladies in local dress in each rectangle. One stood next to a house, one on a beach, one was standing in a forest and one had just stopped picking tea. It was an old-fashioned postcard with colors that might have been applied by hand. In the middle it read: Local Beauties.
For years, this card hung on the wall in the artist's house. Now the card has got lost. But it's title has been preserved.

Rolf Weijburg is regularly asked to do commissioned work. This can either be a commission for an edition of etchings, a drawing, watercolor or series of such. You can find several of the important commissions Weijburg has accepted through the years by clicking on ‘opdrachten’. You can click ‘In Stock’ to find out where you can find works by Rolf Weijburg, or look at ‘Agenda’ for current information on exhibitions.

About the artist
Find out what the Princeton Paquet writes about the artist.
Rolf Weijburg was born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, in 1952.
After a short year of studying Social Geography and Cartography at the University of Utrecht he switched to art school where he graduated in 1976 with a specialization in etching.
Weijburg had started to travel a lot during his studies and in the years after graduation he was living more and more often in Italy. He had his first show there in 1977 in Milano at Giorgio Cardazzo's gallery ‘Bon à Tirer’ to be followed by a second one in Rome in the ‘appointment only’ gallery of Mara Chiaretti in the Via dei Condotti.
The money earned with the latter exhibition enabled him to undertake his first long voyage that took him in 1978 hitch hiking via Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan and Saoudi Arabia to Yemen, and across the Red Sea to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya from where he traveled extensively through East Africa. Via Sudan and Egypt he returned to Europe in the spring of 1979 where he met his present wife Catherine in Paris.
But this was not the only turning point that this trip has brought about. The voyage that had taken almost a year and a half had not only turned the imagery in Weijburg's work from fiction to fact: it had also added a complete new element to his work: Africa.

Africa had put it's spell on the artist and in 1981 he took off for a second long African journey that took him via the Canary Islands to Mauritania from where he continued via many west African countries as far as Equatorial Guinea and the Island Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe. On the way home the heat of the Saharan summer prevented an overland return to Europe, but the following winter saw him and some friends driving across the Algerian deserts in ramshackle second-hand Peugeots to be sold in sub-Saharan Africa.
These Sahara crossings with old Peugeots as money-makers were repeated several winters and resulted in a children's book ‘Voyage au Sahara’, illustrated by Rolf Weijburg with text by his wife Catherine Cazier and published by Flammarion in Paris in 1984. It won the French Grand Prix Élan 1986 for best children's book.

Weijburg wanted to express his fascination with Africa in his etchings and drawings. He wanted to map the continent and started a drawn ‘Illustrated Atlas of Africa’. But Africa was too large: the artist drowned in it's immensity.
With his project ‘L'Afrique Périphérique – An Atlas of the Islands around Africa’ he found the solution: a large series of etchings about all the islands around Africa could serve as a magnifying glass to portray Africa. They would deal with the artist's fascination for Africa and enable him to travel there extensively.
Rolf Weijburg worked on the African Island etchings from 1986 to 2000. In 2000 this series that by that time comprises over 85 color etchings, was exhibited in the Singer Museum, in Laren. It was during this exhibition tha his book "L'Afrique Périphérique" saw the light. An adapted version of this book was also published in French in 2002 with the title "Mes Carnets des Îles".
At the moment Rolf continues to work on his series ‘Home’, ‘Local Beauties’ and on his new series `Atlas of the World's Smallest Countries".
Rolf and Catherine, together with their two daughters Lisa and Kimber, live in Utrecht, The Netherlands.