Co Westerik (The Hague 1924-2018 Rotterdam) is perhaps the most important realist in post-war Dutch painting, although he was really a philosophical dreamer. After Co Westerik studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.
In the first decades after the Second World War, realism was virtually ignored in the Netherlands. But that did not apply to the art of Co Westerik. He won the Jacob Maris Prize for painting with his painting 'The Fish Woman and was of museum interest'. Westerik's parents were very proud, until they saw the painting. Many people found the fishwoman clumsy and repulsive. But Westerik didn't care about that: 'Does it have to be that art should only please?'
From 1971 he worked alternately from Rotterdam and the south of France. Westerik is mainly known as a painter, but has also drawn extensively: his intuitive works made with pen, pencil, chalk, watercolor paint and Indian ink are made with a speed and lightness that distinguishes the drawings from his careful paintings, which consist of various , very meticulously applied layers of paint.
At Co Westerik it is always about everyday things, a cookie in tea, children eating or playing, a man with a matchbox or in the bath. Realistic in the sense of down-to-earth and businesslike, but everything is unusual. He chooses strange subjects, strange points of view and strange cuts. Almost mystical. Dreamy men and women performing rituals. With his work, Westerik expresses indefinable emotions, which the viewer can only understand emotionally. A man in a car, as if it were a cage, without contact with the environment. It is strange, sometimes oppressive and yet familiarly realistic.
'For me, visual art is a kind of theater. The canvas is a kind of stage, within which you let that performance take place as dramatically as possible. To him the world was as absurd as it was unreal. Man is a failure, a failure, but completely free and that is positive. His drawings were a creative process to save himself. In a book about his (ink) drawings and watercolors from 1971 it is stated that he finds the literary content of a poetic work important and that he views humanity in a philosophical way. From the outside. Fear and despair rule thoughts; at a time when we can no longer look down on the world as God.
From 1958 to 1971, Westerik taught figure drawing at the Royal Academy in The Hague. Compared to his many works on paper, Westerik makes relatively few paintings. You can find his work at Museum More, Boijmans and the Kunstmuseum, among others. On westerik.nl you can find an overview of many of his paintings, of which he only made a few per year.