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The Painted Bird

Dreams and Nightmares of Europe


  • Passionate appeal for a new collective imagination
  • Contemplates the future of Europe by means of words, brushstrokes, paint, and stories

Director: Gijs Frieling
Editor: Valentijn Byvanck
Design: Studio Kalle Mattsson
Photography: Charlott Markus

Participating artists: Marie Aly, Cian-Yu Bai, Kim David Bots, Bonno van Doorn, Gijs Frieling, Natasja Kensmil, Klaas Kloosterboer, Mirthe Klück, Frank Koolen, Fiona Lutjenhuis, Jan van de Pavert, Tanja Ritterbex, Sam Samiee, Charlotte Schleiffert, Derk Thijs, Sarah Verbeek, Helen Verhoeven, Evi Vingerling en Job Wouters

2017, Valiz with Marres | supported by Fonds21, BankGiro Lottery Fund and many generous individuals| hardbound | 240 pp. | 24 x 17 cm (h x w) | English | ISBN 978-94-92095-36-7

Europe, are we dancing on a volcano again? Are renewed nationalism, the distrust of politics, and economic insecurity preparing us for a terrible meltdown? It is well possible. It should give us hope for this project, since the best art is produced on the verge of despair, when civilizations crumble and we’re about to shift into a new world order.
This book chronicles the creation of The Painted Bird, a colossal, collaborative mural painting in Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht, (NL). Made by 19 artists, under direction of Gijs Frieling, the painting covers the entire interior of the monumental Marres villa, with beautiful and frightening impressions of Europe including a high tech supermarket, the last remnant of a natural forest, a virtual detention room and a new life festival in the year 2050.
Combining letters written by Gijs Frieling, the artists, and curator Valentijn Byvanck with stunning photography capturing the work in progress as well as the finished work, the book serves as a monument for this collaborative art work in which the future of Europe is contemplated and engineered by means of brushstrokes, paint, sound waves, and stories. At the same time, it constitutes a passionate appeal to view Europe as the site of a new collective imagination.