HEL. is one of the abbreviations that Jan de Prentenknipper (1798 – 1870) used in his work, which is full of Biblical references. Here, however, it stands for Hope and Love, two themes that were central to the life of the Zeeland paper cutter. Without a permanent residence, he roamed the Zeeland islands with his family.
The exhibition provides an as complete as possible picture of the life and work of the folk artist Jan Huijszoon, as his real name was. He is regarded as a provincial icon for the province of Zeeland. His work is part of museum collections, but what is special is that there are also many privately owned prints. By bringing these together, not only does the unique artistic quality of the work become clear, but we also gain insight into the nineteenth-century world of experience in Zeeland. Illustrator Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva has been invited to give shape to the eventful life of Jan de Prentenknipper in her typical way.
In his own unique way Jan de Prentenknipper depicts the world around him. He travels, sometimes with his family, from place to place in search of work. To supplement the meager income, he sells homemade Bible pictures. Every now and then he finds shelter with a farmer. In exchange for a place to sleep, he makes a picture of the farm and the work on the land. Jan roams over the islands of Zuid-Beveland and Walcheren, through Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and Tholen.
Cutting is actually not the right word for what he does: Jan de Prentenknipper cuts and chisels the images from paper. He then sticks them on a sturdy piece of paper and paints them with watercolors and sometimes with handwritten texts. His clippings provide a special view of the nineteenth-century environment in Zeeland.