Unlike your typical street artist tagging buildings with spray paint or covering public walls in stencils, artist Stefaan De Croock (aka Strook) leaves his mark with planks of discarded wood. In fact, he doesn't even use paint or any other form of colorant to alter the pigments of the salvaged doors and wooden materials. Instead, the artist opts to retain each material's original state, upon discovery. From there, he cuts and shapes the various boards into multisided forms that all fit together to create a single image.
Strook's time-consuming work is the result of meticulous scavenging, mindful planning, and skilled construction. The creative muralist's latest piece, titled Elsewhere, is the perfect example of how his method reflects a raw yet cohesive aesthetic. It is, all at once, figurative and abstract. The sharp, geometric style manages to complement and add a creative perspective to the silhouette of a man that reflects Strook's keen sense of design, not to mention his diligence.
The recycled materials—which includes anything from discarded doors to salvaged floors and furniture—are placed into visually interesting compositions, like the pieces of a carefully crafted puzzle. Even the location for the entire mural is a deliberate nod to his medium of choice. Strook placed this particular mural on the side of an old furniture factory in Mechelen, Belgium (as part of the Mechelen Muurt Project).
We were lucky enough to ask Strook a few questions about his process and inspiration. You can read that interview, below.
Where do you get the discarded wood pieces for your work?
I always keep an eye open for wood. The ‘harvesting’ is almost as important as the making of the artwork. Sometimes I see doors or wooden planks on a construction site and if they look interesting, I ask the construction workers if they still need it. If they don’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. It’s really interesting to make a face with the 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 reflects… 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. That’s what it’s all about; we are all so different and yet so identical. It’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 didn’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 interesting—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. It’s like a footprint of time. Every piece has it own story and comes together in a new composition and forms a new story.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Stefaan De Croock.