A Biographical Sketch

by Anneke Kuyper-Strik

Lou Strik was born on December 8. 1921, in Eindhoven, the only child of Piet Strik and Anna Loeven. The members of this Strik (‘Snare’) family, named after a poacher forefather, were temperamental and obstinate people, dark and Spanish in appearance, farmers and artisans. From the Loeven side of the family came teachers and priests, proud and argumentive. There was a clairvoyant grandmother and an ‘esoteric’ uncle. Family traits, the influence of the Catholic Church and the earthy heathenism of Brabant made an impact on Strik’s character that was to manifest itself later in his prints.

From 1940‒45 Strik attended classes at the Art Academy at Den Bosch.

In 1945 he moved to Amsterdam to become a student at the Rijksakademie, in drawing, painting and later on in the graphic arts, copper and wood engraving.

In 1952 he won the silver medal of the Prix de Rome competition for the copper engraving Pan and Syrinx. He also studied postage stamp engraving and design, which resulted in the series of ‘Kinderzegels’ (stamps to benefit children) and the Admiral De Ruyter series.

In 1948 Strik married Dine Vollema and they had two ­children, a son named Peter Jelle and a daughter Maartje. (Later on in her life she became an accomplished painter herself). In 1954 he became a teacher at the Academy in Den Bosch for the graphic arts and drawing, until 1969.

After that he was appointed at the Art Academy for teachers in Tilburg, until 1978.

In 1978 he returned to the Academy in Den Bosch and taught there until his retirement. Strik was known as a devoted and passionate teacher, who related in a personal and confidential way to his students.

Until 1980 Strik was an active member of the boards and jury panels of several art societies like the ‘Grafische’, St. Lucas, Binding, and especially Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam. Arti became his second home, where he met his friends and colleagues. There he organized and participated in many exhibitions.

When Strik retired in 1981 as a teacher, he became more involved with the Ex libris Society, often worked on commission, and his prints traveled all over the world, greatly appreciated by all collectors. His friend Jan Rhebergen promoted all the contacts and exchanges with the East European artists. Strik felt at home with them and travelled often to these counties.

In 1970 his first marriage was dissolved and he met his second wife Anneke Kuyper, a colleague with whom he shared all aspects of the profession: they exhibited together, both taught at diverent art academies, and both worked on commissions for the Ex libris Society.

In 1993 his son died and this great grief weighed heavily on him

Strik passed away on November 23. 2001, nearly eighty years old.

A Graphic Cabaret

by Pam G. Rueter

Lou Strik was a printmaker in body and soul; his whole being was dedicated to engraving his prints. He thought and experienced the world in black and white: ‘All the greys will appear anyway!’. His way of analytic observation marked a preference for the pureness of engraving: “There’s no cheating with that!”

His vision on life was utterly prosaic, without illusions; he mocked the human being with kind compassion.

He loved tearing on their masks, exposing them naked, vulnerable and poignant. ‘Every­thing that comes your way, undress it, take away all the fancies and just love what’s left. Like playing chess, clear away all the pieces but a few. Make room and the real game can begin.’

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A Search for the Secret of the Human Being

by Luc van den Briele

The stories in printmaking by Lou Strik are told vividly, and especially the ex ­libris show a search for the motives behind the outer appearance of the com­missioner. The surrealistic atmosphere reminds one of Hieronymus Bosch, showing those weird combinations of animal, vegetal and human body shapes.

But one could think of Piranesi as well, the poetic feeling of hidden secrets behind the crumbling walls, suggesting human failure. Observing Strik’s prints closely gives one the experience of wandering through the great sub­conscious, travelling to another world through a strange night with a will-o-the wisp as an only guide.

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The symbolic world of the graphic artist Lou Strik

by Wim G. Ket

Masonic artists do sometimes create Masonic art, but sometimes it happens that someone not initiated possesses the key for communication with allegory and symbol. Strik plays a game with the solid components of everyday reality. In his fantasy world they loose their stubbornness and translate themselves into bits of pictural language.
Bodyparts float around and mathematical shapes leave the laws of regularity. Thoughts detach themselves from the person, taking with them their hidden meanings, to flaunt them on the exterior.

In the world of the ex libris Strik has undeniably great allure, for his capacity to exchange reality and fiction, according to his own rules. He does not ignore the original intention of the commission, but comments on it in a bold and satirical way.

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Art of making great small prints

by Aat Vervoorn

In the world of graphic art connoisseurs there is a saying: there are wall prints and hand prints. The first category contains large colourful reproductions meant for oyces and museums; you see them in passing. Besides these exist the kind of prints that demand closer attention. Black and white prints, modest in size, but intense in construction.

Strik’s prints are of the second category, but first class! With great expertise he creates his own world, populated with recognisable elements, but never creatures of this world. The pretentious human is also on show, often in a slightly comical way, but with friendly intentions.

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Strik’s involvement with Art Societies

by Aat Vervoorn

After finishing his studies Strik became a member of panels and juries at the ‘Grafische’ and functioned in this capacity until it was dissolved in 1970. His notes as a secretary often show nuance and humor; they also reveal his insight in the history of post-war Dutch ­graphic art. In 1958 he represented The Netherlands at the Graphic Biënnale in Lugano.

Strik became a member of the Dutch Society for Ex libris and Miniature Graphic Art in 1956. In this field he could develop his talent for combining small size and great meaning and power. His close friendship with Jan Rhe­bergen, well known collector, inspired him to an endless stream of prints, all showing the astrological sign Aquarius. Rhebergen promoted all the contacts and exchanges between East European artists and Dutch collectors. Strik followed in his footsteps; he loved travelling in those countries. In 1951 all the members of the Ex libris Society received a book about Strik as a bonus over. The text, written by Rhebergen, was translated into four diverent languages, contributing a great deal towards the international success and appreciation for Strik’s work.

Strik’s watercolour paintings are characterized by their solid shapes and detailed structures. Not a reflection of moods, like most of today’s watercolours, but pure storytelling is his aim. His style is not splashing of water, but an accurate and patient building up in layers, moulding the image in much the same way as can be seen in his prints. Strik’s watercolours are quite unique; no comparable work is known today in The Netherlands. They represent an outstanding part of his oeuvre.

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The ex libris oeuvre of Lou Strik

by Jos van Waterschoot

The International Ex libris Congress of 1957 in Amsterdam was of great influence on the career of Lou Strik as an ex libris artist. Many commissions came his way from all over the world, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and the U.S.A. From that moment on his name became well known. In the fifties, Strik’s ex libris are notable for their powerful expressiveness, the shapes are stylized, with heavy outlines. His working style divers greatly from his more naturalistic colleagues like Rueter, Bulder and Van Gelder.
Later on a more surrealistic quality also shows itself, and a game of spatial suggestions is played.

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