Martijn Hesseling, who lives and works in The Netherlands, creates his incredibly complex
compositions from only newspaper and lacquer. Beginning with a sheet of clear
plexiglass as his canvas, Hesseling builds his works from back to the front by carefully
cutting and lacquering each individual element of the image. When lacquered, the
negative space of the printed page is rendered transparent while the printed text and
images remain. Hesseling uses the white space of the page as his highlights and places
layer upon layer of the remaining printed material as his shadows, gradients, and color.
Because his technique builds highlights from transparency, the brightness and details of
the work actually come from the wall not the surface of the piece creating a depth and
glow that emanates from within.
During his MFA studies as a painter, Hesseling chose to work with newspaper after
growing frustrated with the formality of paint and looking for a medium that reflected
time. In his work, maintaining legibility of the text is key to both rendering the finer details
of each piece and the effect of the artwork when viewed from varying distances. As the
viewer approaches the work, the larger composition dissolves in a way that paintings
and drawings don't as the viewers eye begins to scan the work both reading each piece
that has been used to build the image and trying to comprehend how the work was