You all know Hello Kitty, right?
Hello Kitty was a Japanese copy of Nijntje, the rabbit creation of Dick Bruna. I just heard Bruna died, another icon who produced books that many Dutch children grew up with, including mine, and including my Dutch 1 students.
His graphics were inspired by the Dutch art group, De Stijl, and Piet Mondriaan, in particular:
Bold black lines and the use of primary colors exclusively:
These graphics were accompanied by simple rhymes but the text was only secondary in these books, because Bruna created an entire world with a remarkable restraint of drawing a few simple lines and filling them with primary colors.
White, the absence of color, was reserved for Nijntje, symbolizing innocence but also that tabula rasa kind of state a typical child was in when going through these books: out of the womb, at home and before the onslaught of school and the real world invading.
The lasting power of his art is that it’s timeless and will continue to speak to generations, just like his idols Mondriaan and Matisse.
After Trump’s dysfunctional and delusional performance yesterday which was rife with hyperbole, talk of dystopia and false stories, I hunger for the simplicity, good cheer and authenticity of Nijntje’s world.
Clearly, in times like these the work of artists becomes even more important to put us back on the rails, inspire us and give us hope. If we don’t fight for art and beauty anymore, we’re truly lost as a people.
Have a happy weekend. Turn off the TV and give your social media a rest. Above all, keep breathing. That’s what Nijntje and her family would do, too. In fact, they would take it a step further and go on a picnic, because life can be a picnic if you allow it to happen. Cheers!