"There are countless artists, but countable are those who are on the leading edge."
I PLAY, THEREFORE I AM
LUDO ERGO SUM
The foundation of the innovative, collaborative art movement toyism in 1992 was originated as a counter-movement to post-modern individualism. Since then it has progressed steadily, as the longest running fine art movement.
In a basement of Emmen, The Netherlands, toyism founder Dejo wrote a revolutionary manifesto against the age of the ego. This pioneering concept remains confidential to all except the ‘toyist’ artists, who each takes up a pseudonym after a letter of the alphabet not already used by another toyist and signs all works with it accordingly. The anonymous collective consists of 18 members as of 2017, from America, Canada, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Malaysia, Australia, Italy, Romania, Iceland, and the Netherlands.
The distinctive characteristic of toyism is to infuse the fun of children into adult appealing art. Toyists are considered ‘fathers’ producing ‘offspring’ with the manifesto known as ‘Moeder’ (Dutch for ‘mother’). Thus, their figurative works bear a strong playful resemblance. Each toyist portrays a different idea of ‘being human’ and by doing so contributes a new dimension to the movement.
In toyism, a narrative that provokes personal reflection on the part of the viewer is essential. Toyism works are nothing if not bizarre but recognizable imageries drawn from reality, the surreal, and fantasy. The intense play of lines, shapes, dots and colors is intended to help open the viewer's mind to critical thinking about the human condition in the present day world.
Toyism is a contemporary art movement that originated in the 1990s in the Netherlands. The word symbolises the playful character of the artworks and the philosophy behind it. Toyism as art movement is a reaction on the post-modern world of individualism, which existed in the 1970s through the 1990s, the era in which “everything is allowed”. Nevertheless, the game of toyism is a serious matter that shows a new, critical and sensitive perspective on our present-day world. Toyism is borne by and carried out by a group of artists operating internationally, surrounding themselves with a number of fixed rituals. They deliberately choose anonymity and make the creative process subservient to the group and rules and agreements that are stated in their manifest. This does not imply that all the artwork they produce is uniform or dull. On the contrary. Toyism artwork excels by versatility and contains chameleon-like characteristics. Their playing ground is wide and still expanding everyday with new options, expressions and implementations. The Uppspretta project is a good example of this. After similar trials in the Netherlands, the Toyists are in search of new possibilities and locations in order to realise their ideas and ideals. Slowly but surely their working area is expanding. Toyism is steadily spreading like a worldwide oil-spill. This form of ‘Expanding Toyism’ was intended from the beginning and is taking a clearer shape. Toyism is more than a movement. It is an energy flow that is slowly but surely engulfing the world with a wave of goodwill. Wim van der Beek, author and art critic.