Unlike your typical road artist labeling buildings with spray paint or covering public walls in stencils, artist Stefaan De Croock (aka Strook) leaves his mark with boards of discarded wood. Actually, he doesn’t even use any other type of colorant or paint to change the pigments of wooden materials and the salvaged doors. The artist chooses to retain each material’s initial state , upon discovery. From that point, he cuts and shapes the various planks into multisided sorts that all fit together to produce a single picture.
Strook’s time consuming work is the result of scrupulous scavenging, aware preparation, and skilled construction. The creative muralist’s latest piece is an ideal example of how a raw yet cohesive aesthetic is reflected by his strategy. It is, all at once, figurative and abstract. And of course his diligence and put in a creative outlook to the silhouette of a man that represents the keen awareness of design of Strook, the sharp, geometric fashion manages to complement.
The recycled materials–which includes anything from throwaway doors to salvaged floors and furniture –are put into compositions that were visually fascinating, just like the pieces of a puzzle that was carefully crafted. Even the location for the entire mural is a deliberate nod to his medium of choice. Strook placed this specific mural on the side of a vintage furniture factory in Mechelen, Belgium (included in the Mechelen Muurt Project).
Where do you get the discarded wood pieces for your work?
I always keep an eye open for wood. The â€˜harvestingâ€™ is almost as important as the making of the artwork. Sometimes I see doors or wooden planks on a construction site and if they lookÂ interesting, I ask the construction workers if they still need it. If they donâ€™t need them anymore, I come back with my van. I’ll also search in deserted factories or houses just before they’re going to be destroyed. Sometimes people send me a message or tell me where I can find some old floors or doors. I just look everywhere.
What’s the inspiration behind your wooden murals?
Faces. It always starts with a drawing of a face. Itâ€™s really interesting to make a face with theÂ discarded wood. It gets a new life and a new story.
Is there specific significance to the forms you create?
Every recycled sculpture or mural has it own story. In this case, the wall on which I constructed the installation was also an inspiration. You can see the relics of an old roof and house on the wall, so in the past there was a house next to the furniture factory. The melancholic, fragile pose of the figure symbolizes a person in the comfort of his home, where he is truly himself. A person who reflectsâ€¦ It’s really difficult to explain this in English 🙂
What’s the story behind your Wood & Paint project?
Wood & Paint is a kind of conversation between different materials, a contrast and a similarity at the same time. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about; we are all so different and yet so identical. Itâ€™s a contrast but at the the same time a similarity. The two parts of this piece are a bit the same, but the making is completely different. It took a lot longer to construct the wooden part because I had to search for the right wood and textures. The wood comes from one big abandoned factory and, like in Elsewhere, I didnâ€™t add any paint to the found wood.
What draws you to this form of art?
The whole process of making a recycled artwork is really interestingâ€”the search for wood, cutting, and making the pieces; placing and building it. I really like to work with the old patina of discarded wood. Itâ€™s like a footprint of time. Every piece has it own story and comes together in a new composition and forms a new story.
Photos by Stefaan De Croock.