WILLEM DOLPHYN: THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION
DATE & LOCATION
14 March 2022
25 March 2022
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Year on year we would eagerly await the visit to Antwerp to visit Willem in his studio
to see the output of his 365 days around the year, for Willem barely missed a day of
painting, often working on several works at a time. Entering his studio museum was a
little like running the gauntlet with antiques, papers, trinkets, canvases, oils stuffed into
every nook and cranny, extremely precariously, ready to tumble at the mere swish of a
coat passing. A consummate collector, his paintings catalogue multiple lives worth of
treasures, every canvas filled with exquisitely chosen artefacts from around the world.
Having ‘a little drinkie’ in the pub around the corner was obligatory, where hundreds of
witches hung on their broomsticks and builders propped up the bar. This is when Willem’s
stories would come tumbling out, both from his friends and himself, always involving
something that would make us all cry with laughter. As you will see in stories lovingly
handed down by his son Walter, this was a man whose life was extremely well lived!
We have brought together a collection of Willem’s best works to memorialise this great
painter. In his pursuit of perfection, Willem showed a desire to explore beneath the surface
of his beautifully rendered objects, constantly pushing his craft to new heights and never
resting on his mastery.
I can hardly believe it has already been 6 years since Willem’s passing, so vivid are my
memories of him. I’m sure any of you who also met him would agree that he left a lasting
impression. Although his English was not perfect, the sentiment of what he said was always
absolutely spot on, his observations and knowledge of life as detailed and insightful as
his paintings. Generous with his time, advice, and rich imagination, Willem leaves a legacy
beyond even his outstanding works.
His spirit lives on in his paintings and I know that every time I stop and enjoy the one that
I have at home, I smile just thinking of him, reminded of how lucky I was to have met such
an extraordinary character.