Introduction to the book by Gils Frieling
The burgeoning oeuvre of Job Wouters proves that the body language of writing can also be a subject of endless practice, eloquence, and adventure
Our generation occupies the time between an era when everyone was able to write by hand and a future when hardly anyone will. It is conceivable that our grandchildren will no longer learn penmanship. The presently unchallenged importance of teaching penmanship in schools seemingly masks the fact that handwriting is already superfluous.
The disappearance of handwriting will fundamentally change the nature of a child's thought processes during the transition from having a physical, spatial, and lively imagination to a precise, but also limited, language based one that comes from practicing penmanship. In the period when a child is learning to write – when the difference between a letter and a drawing is still minor, when it still takes great effort to make letters the same size and position them neatly on one line, when letters sometimes appear in mirrored form and an "E" may still include four or five horizontal lines – the human mind is carefully being prepped for the limitations of the abstract culture within which it will have to spend the rest of its life.
As soon as a child can write, and often even before, the keyboard enters the classroom. If you imagine the progression from drawing to writing to typing, you can visualize the hand gradually withdrawing from the material world. In the best case scenario, this mental reduction of lively, colourful images into static, black symbols will not result in the loss of all of our pre-linguistic views of the world, and a place will remain in the soul where we can preserve our tactile, physical connection to the earth.
Learning to write is also tied into learning that some things are essential and right while others are superfluous and wrong. The hand, with its attendant line, moving smoothly and freely through space, is broken in. Loops, curls, and frills are trimmed away. What is important is the message, and this must be captured in only stark, upright letters.
The burgeoning oeuvre of Job Wouters proves that the body language of writing can also be a subject of endless practice, eloquence, and adventure. Job's enthusiastic approach to practicing and perfecting the tool that is his hand is exceptional. Around us, the collective focus seems to have shifted, creating something from nothing with an immediate result being of utmost importance. Tireless practice seems to be a rare commodity. The attraction of Wouters's work, certainly for many young epigones, comes from the flowing ease with which his letters are displayed. He does not often publicize the fact that this quality is built on miles worth of practice. The sheets on pages 80, 81, 146, and 147 are an exception to this rule. The flawless repetitions of an improvised movement are impressive in their combination of sweeping suppleness and remarkable precision.
Wouters continually finds new ways to reinvent letters beyond their dynamic origins. Words from his hand make us suspect that even our cool, Roman writing is the product of an earlier volatile history. His words are laid out on the page like fresh sea creatures, and you would swear that, every so often, one of them quivers.
I think that the enormous, vividly coloured words that Job used to write in tunnels and on city walls might be of less relevance to his current work than the fact that he once was a skilled fencer and an excellent fisherman.
The above is the text from the introduction to this great book and it is basically ALL of the text in the book! What follows are over 150 pages of amazing colourful calligraphy, graphics and design work from Job Wouters.
1st edition, 2012, hardback, 160pp, full colour throughout, 22 x26.6 cm