Nico Laan creates enormous sand paintings that pop up all along the coast of the Netherlands. The drawings are an example of anamorphosis at work. They may appear distorted or unfinished, but photographedfrom a ce rtain angle with Nico’s drone, they can be seen as he intended.
Nico’s process is a perfect marriage between people and nature, from the natural materials he uses to the final act, when the elements move in and erode the artworks until they disappear from view.
Nico got to thinking about perspective, and he wondered whether he could make works in the sand that would only appear complete when viewed from a specific angle. This effect is called anamorphosis, when a drawing at first appears distorted, and becomes visible only when viewed from a particular vantage point. Since that moment, he’s been returning to the beaches regularly, making tens of works of art and photographing them from the sky.
With his first attempts, his focus was for each work to “pop up,” to look as if it were standing upright on the beach. He began with simple pieces, a giant chess rook standing to attention, a trap door with a ladder that seemed to offer the chance to climb down deep into the sand. Depending on their size, each piece can take between four hours and three days of work at the beach, but the real preparation begins at home in front of the computer.
The inspiration for the pieces is a natural process, as the discoveries he makes while doing each one inspire the next.
“Unexpected things keep happening, and it brings you new ideas,” he says. While working on a piece depicting a chess board, he showed the different squares on the board by using a rake on the sand in half of them to show a different color.
From start to finish, Nico’s work is a perfect marriage between people and nature. Working with the natural things he finds on location before, in the end, the elements have their way with his art.