The Toyist Artists

It's something completely different
© 2018 The Toyist Artists

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In 1992 a group of three, now expanded to twelve, artists formed an aesthetic around the idea of toys and play. Rejecting the recent emphasis on ego in art, they wrote a manifesto called "Mother" and used as their watchword, "Art is as changeable as the weather". Their style is figurative, colorful and precise, the images like fragments of a fairy tale. The artists use pseudonyms and masks to hide their true identities, all the while continuing to create work under their real names as well. They are identified with nicknames like "Pixy", "Toescat", and "Alfago". Artists who want to join the group are required to visit the Toyism Studio in Emmen, the Netherlands, before they can be accepted. At present, five Dutch artists, one South African, one Italien and two Americans comprise the group. Since each nickname must begin with a different letter of the alphabet it would appear that twenty-six members will be the limit.


Since their first exhibition in 1993, at the Veenmuseum in Emmen, Holland, the Toyism movement has progressively grown, building a solid foundation for Toyist art. The appealing characteristics of Toyist paintings involve the use of bright, lively, intense colors. The colors’ energy, along with lines, dots and shapes, are used to convey deep meanings through a playful point of view. Toyist art reveals a strong consciousness of not only the issues that globally afflict our time, but the joy we experience in life... From ecology and environmental pollution to our love of the earth and animals... From conflicts of war, yet the hope for world peace... From the inner struggles of the individual, to the strive for self-improvement. These contrasts are expressed through symbols, bright colors, and meticulous detail. Toyism clearly places itself against the Ego that our society has over-developed. This is also the reason why all the Toyist artists paint under a pseudonym…they appear as anonymous, yet are part of the whole of Toyism, whom they represent through their paintings, and the cartoon figures they embody. This is part of the game.

The art game played in Toyism is a serious matter. This sort of “playing” is intended to open up the viewers mind, to a new, critical and sensitive vision of the world. In effect, one of the most common factors among Toyists are their open minds, in which they face other cultures, other artists and their own Toyist role…In Toyism, you must learn a new language: how to read and write through lines and dots, and how to use the colors and shapes to convey the story, the painting is supposed to tell. Each painting brings a new game and a new story to be told and read by the public. In addition, the artists can play this art-making game alone or with other Toyists. There are also multi-toyist artworks, in which a series of several paintings are combined to make one large piece…to make it whole. On these occasions, the viewer can clearly perceive the game played by the artists and takes an active part in it, since his role is definitively to untie the knots of the toyist puzzle and read through its symbols. Toyism has developed a very unique art style and a strong concept for an “art-group” that is totally new in the contemporary art panorama. Communication, poetry, emotion, and beauty are only some of the main aspects of Toyism that have appealed to the artists who joined the group within the years.

Studios of The Toyist Artists

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