There is nothing new under the sun, thus was written, but yet: the wheel has to be invented anew every day. It is an important task for the artists to occupy themselves with this in order to give meaning to the meaningless.


But what art is cannot be described. It is a  ‘’ mer a boire’’, in the past, in the present and will hopefully stay that way in the future. Into this infinite sea Joe Cillen jumped, also literally, in order to explore the underwaterworld as a deepsea diver.


This favourite pastime, pursued with dedication, is typical of Joe.

It is a manifestation of his love for everything that has to do with the sea and his inclination towards adventure and the unknown.  Under the water you can see the world with clean eyes, that is to say, watch in amazement and in admiration. For years Joe sailed the seas and has been in touch with many different cultures. This helped to recognise the typical aspects of our own culture and gives them a certain perspective.


The deep-sea  underwater-world is like a dream-world, silent and solemn with beautiful shapes, colours and strange monsters. In the loud world above the water Joe tries to realise dreams and fantasies  in tangible and visible objects and projects out of various materials. Not only does he want to make his own ideas visible, also he wants people to experience his work with their own fantasies and associations. He does not consider the visibly present part of his work most important, but the underlying layers of feelings, thoughts and past adventurous experiences. Most  of all Joe likes to see the spectator as an active participant who contributes in a special way to the making of a project. An example  is the lightbulb project on the Noordereiland in Rotterdam; hundreds of green and red bulbs suggested portside and starboard and turned the island into a sailing ship.

For every object or project Joe carefully chooses the material suited to the expression, while the word material is used in the broadest sense: not only natural and synthetic materials, but also light, air and water. He puts a lot of work in the preparation and in the finishing off  of his materials. But the perfection he achieves in the finishing off should not give the beholder the idea that an esthetic goal is pursued.


Joe is alive in his projects and his projects live in him.


Jo van Praag


Former Head of the Academy for Creative Arts in Amersfoort