HUGO KAAGMAN  STENCIL KING
The Hugo Kaagman Punk Files Introduction This is an exceptional artist’s edition, entitled Punk Files. This edition mainly features works created between 1977 and 1982 and were specifically intended for fanzines like KoeCrandt. 1977 KoeCrandt Hugo Kaagman (1955) is one of the key figures of the Amsterdam punk movement. While studying social geography at the city’s municipal university, he became interested in art movements like Dada and Fluxus. While Malcolm McLaren was inspired by the French Situationists, Kaagman was captivated by the disrupting work of artists like Wim T. Schippers and Willem de Ridder and Provo too. Fluxus, an art movement whose roots can be traced back to music, turned against the art establishment. Instead of pursuing a career, Fluxus artists made silk screened T-shirts and spread their output as books and games via mail order, the Fluxshop. Provo had a much more anarchistic outlook, but also this movement had a playful side. Their activities were unsettling to a large extent: the establishment didn’t know how to deal with them nor didn’t have an answer.  In 1976, Kaagman conducted a Fluxus inspired action: two students were hired to march through the streets of Amsterdam with the text Vive les Étudiants. During the spring of 1977, Kaagman and several other squatters occupied several houses in the Sarphatistraat. Later on, because of Kaagman’s black and white graffiti, these became known as the Zebrapanden (zebra houses). Kaagman’’s disappointment with the hippie movement resulted in a haircut, but his moment of enlightenment came when a roommate handed him some punk pamphlets from London. Straight away, Kaagman adopted the nickname of Amarillo and set up his own magazine, amongst others with the Surinam sociology student Ludwig Wisch (aka Lulu Zulu),. The KoeCrandt or Koekrant or Koekrand – named after the filthy leftovers in the toilet – was initially a mere house bulletin, but later on ever more punk texts and images were included. A couple of months later, ex Rietveld Academy student Diana Ozon also became involved with the magazine. In the beginning of 1978, Ivar Vics, alias Dr Rat (1960-1981) joined the group too. The Koecrandt featured collages, poems by Ozon, comics by Amarillo, drawings by Dr Rat and reviews of concerts and disturbances caused by punks.   1978 DDT666    In April 1978, Kaagman and Ozon set up the DDT666 punk club in the basement of their Sarphatistraat squat. DDT666 stood for: Dirty Dutch Trix. Kaagman remembers those days as, ‘Everybody was really energetic and that lazy hippie attitude had vanished completely. Everyone was writing on the walls. I was truly convinced that I was witnessing the beginning of a new movement.” But, after just half a year DDT666 had ceased to exist. 1979 Gallery ANUS In 1979, Kaagman and Ozon opened the Anus Gallery at the same location. Apart from selling punk magazines and homemade T-shirts, it was also possible to get a haircut. The gallery became a meeting place for punks from all over the Netherlands. Kaagman had pinned a map of the country on the wall which was covered with lots of little flags indicating where the visitors came from. Over time, the gallery became the operating base for both graffiti artists and/or graffiti vandals. Thanks to Hugo Kaagman, graffiti became an essential part of the Amsterdam punk movement. Indeed, in contrast to other countries, punk and graffiti became closely associated in the Netherlands. Elsewhere, graffiti was considered to have originated within the hip-hop movement. In 1978, Kaagman organized the Grand Prix du Graffiti. Victor Vics, alias Dr Rat, won first prize. The year after, the event became hugely popular. Lots of young ‘artists’ joined in, but most of them made a mess of it. It is not farfetched to dub Kaagman the founder of the Dutch graffiti scene. Internationally, he is seen as the pioneer of stencil graffiti: his murals are made with the aid of self-made stencils. There is an unexpected link between punk and reggae. Just like in London, many punks in Amsterdam were fond of reggae. They identified with reggae’s rebellious spirit and just like the Rasta’s were drawn to the imminent apocalypse. Both Kaagman and Ozon reported regularly on those themes in the KoeCrandt.   1980 Gallery Ozon In January 1980, gallery Anus was closed, but a couple of months later Kaagman and Ozon set up gallery Ozon. Sarphatistraat 62 was no longer a hangout for punks, on the contrary. It became a serious gallery with both stencils and spray art. Every day, Kaagman produced new stencils and these were applied to any surface. The façade of their house was a huge colourful collage: punk and Rasta motifs and images of the jungle. Tigers, panthers, snakes and zebras were competing for attention. In the meantime, the gallery was selling T-shirts and fanzines, whereas the KoeCrandt was also being published. 1981 Gallery Zebra In 1981, the name of the gallery changed just once more. The Ozon gallery became the Zebra gallery. After a long trip through Africa, via Timbuktu to Morocco, Kaagman decided that the time had come to adopt a positive attitude. He started combining jungle motifs with decorative patterns and the façade of Sarphatistraat 62 changed once again. Kaagman applied lots and lots of zebra motifs and the gallery became a serious enterprise with real artists. A group was formed in the Cobra spirit: let’s move on together. Apart from Fabiola and Mike von Bibikov, lots of post punks were both members and regular visitors. Johan van Leeuwen took over the KoeCrandt and Kaagman initiated the Zebra magazine where all sorts of topics were being raised. Performances were held in the gallery as well and every now and then the group went elsewhere to manifest itself. Also, some other magazines, notably the Escapist and Argwaan, were published. The Zebra House kept its name until it was demolished in 1996. Collages Kaagman’s art, developed during the punk movement, is based on the collage technique. He made the Koecrandt fanzine with photocopied cuttings from newspapers and he applied the same procedure to his stencils. To him, a collage made up of pictures is much more effective than just lots of words. The doomsday images in gallery Anus were taken directly from the printed media; the Ozon gallery also displayed cheerful pictures while really new fashion was being made too. Only in the Zebra gallery, autonomous art was shown.  1983 Fences and railings In 1983, Kaagman was commissioned by the Wijkcentrum d’Oude Stadt (the old town neighbourhood centre) and the neighbourhood group Amstelstraat to paint an 80 metre long fence, just in front of the Stopera (an abbreviation of Stadhuis (town hall) and Opera, a building that was under construction those days). The fence became a huge collage containing punk elements, Moroccan and jungle motifs. A part of it featured the black and white zebra style. ‘I just hope that this kind of art will spread all over the city and will be considered as an attraction by itself and not just as a way of filling space. Within the official art world, the in-crowd, my work isn’t taken seriously at all. Yet, on the street, we get a lot of positive vibes and every day more appreciation’, Kaagman said. Other official assignments followed soon afterwards. In 1985, he was commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to take charge of the Transvaal tunnel near the Wibautstraat. Kaagman incorporated all afore mentioned elements, but he was also influenced by North- American graffiti. His next step was getting involved with the official gallery world. After all, the Do It Yourself attitude was completely gone and the days of the Yuppies had arrived. Lots of money was made with art and the idea of wanting to do everything yourself was considered to be just terribly pitiful. In January 1988, Kaagman exhibited his one square meter paintings in the Living Room gallery, the emphasis being on decorative expression. The year after, he had another solo show in the same gallery. The works on display contained a mix of all the idioms he had developed so far. In 1990, Kaagman was awarded a grant to develop his talent even further. He then asked himself why he was always looking for decorative motifs elsewhere. Thus, he started doing research in the Netherlands and discovered the Delft blue tradition. He gave it a new life by turning everything upside down. Collage was still the basis for his compositions and with lots of tiny elements he made great new images. Also, his punk roots and research into world religions came into play. These were still visible in meaningful messages.  Kaagman became internationally successful with his Delft blue style. He got lots of commissions, amongst others, a well over 60 meter long mural at Schiphol airport, nineteen Boeing aeroplane tails for British Airways and murals in Japan, Russia and the United States of America. It is not uncommon that much of the later work of quite a few artists is closely related to the applied arts. For example, they became famous for their paintings and/or sculptures and then got the opportunity to decorate the outer walls of buildings or their work is being reproduced on ties and maybe every now and then they get a commission to design a record cover. For Hugo Kaagman the opposite is true because his work was born in the streets. If he gets an assignment to take on a fence, a wall or, in the case of the energy company Essent in the city of Enschede, a whole building, he is creating autonomous art. His works on canvas were made in a later stage; their origins go back to street art.  There have been followers, of course. Elements from Kaagman’s idiom were and are still regularly being used in advertisements, either with or without permission. Both design fairs and interior design shops feature works in the Kaagman style and these are usually labelled with the name of some other artist. In general, Kaagman isn’t too worried by this; at most he is annoyed by the quality of the copied product. In the beginning, Kaagman photocopied images and often enlarged them. Especially, the library proved to be a good source, but from the nineteen nineties onwards the computer became really helpful. The artist started scanning his images and was able to manipulate his collages a lot more. Photoshop allowed him to create collages without scissors and glue. This proved to be a real solution because the collages didn’t get damaged when Kaagman reused them for other compositions. He also started scanning his stencils, first to make sketches for murals and later on as a base for only digitally existing compositions. Kaagman’s oeuvre refers constantly to former idioms, but he also includes new ones. Therefore, both punk and Rasta remain an important source of inspiration, just like Arabic and Dutch motifs. Later on he also included Japanese, Ethiopian and French motifs. Then he started investigating so-called Geo-graffiti, making fictitious atlases. But even this subject is within his range. After all, Kaagman was once a social geography student and took up travelling at an early age. This is a very special artist’s book, a limited handmade edition (.. copies only). It provides insight into how Kaagman developed his style throughout the years and, moreover, also features his best collages. Some date back to the beginning of his career and were made with the help of scissors and glue. Most are either an update of former material or new digitally designed images. This edition provides an exceptional overview of the oeuvre of an inspiring and dedicated artist. Kaagman has also been named the Stencil King and rightly so. He started out in the days when graffiti became a force to be reckoned with, but in contrast to most street artists he worked with stencils. Also, internationally he was one of the first to do so. Kaagman’s work is admired by artists like Banksy, by whom he is seen as a precursor.     Punk in Holland, Jeannette Dekeukeleire and Harry Ruhé. Published by DeCultClub, September 2011. Binding: file, 100 pages. ISBN No future nu, Leonor Jonker. Published by Lebowski, February 2012. Binding: paperback. 192pPages. ISBN Stencil King – Hugo Kaagman, Published by Lebowski, November 2009. Binding: paperback, 160 pages. ISBN