Witte Wartena

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Witte Wartena (born June 18, 1976) is a Dutch artist. His work consists mainly of drawings. His work has been widely shown in international art exhibitions.

His work has been described in Metropolis M, a leading Dutch art magazine, as: "one of the few people in the Netherlands who make cutting edge comic strips."

Early life and career[edit]

Wartena was born in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland. In his childhood bedroom, which was situated in the attic, the famous Dutch comic artist Marten Toonder had lived for one year during the Second World War. From a young age, he too created comics that he periodically published in a comic magazine called Harry.

Wartena studied art in Enschede, where he graduated with a degree in Illustration in 1998. In 2006 he successfully finished his Master's of Design course at the ECA (Edinburgh College of Art) in Illustration. Considering comics to be the most versatile art medium, Wartena and Sebastiaan Schlicher created the comic game Kassie Mik-Mak in 1997, presenting it in the Dutch town of Enschede. During that time, he was also a member and editor of Aki-magazine het Ei, made a weekly comic magazine with fellow students called Tekno, and was part of the programming committee of Museum 7514BK Enschede, the Netherlands. There he was responsible for the opening show of the newly established museum. He opted for the first ever retrospective of Jeroen Henneman.

The opening speech was spoken by the ex-professional footballer and newspaper columnist Jan Mulder. His son, Yoeri Mulder, then also attended the show. The other show he curated there was of Rogier Walrecht.


Wartena's work is narrative, based on himself and his surroundings. Executed in the form of drawings, prints, comics and installations, it features friends, family and scenes from his daily life. The drawings are made as accurately as possible in the sense that they include every detail of people's everyday existence, such as clutter, rubbish and graffiti: features of the present environment. Like the genre works from the Dutch Masters, he too shares their passion of portraying people engaged in common activities. The difference is that Wartena knows these people personally.

He also makes series of drawings and prints of well-known writers, curators, collectors and gallery owners living in the cities where he resides.

Wartena likes also to think of his work as snapshot photos, similar to the photo albums his mother has of him since he was born: a personal history book of his life. For Wartena, creating work is a way of preserving his ever-changing reality. He sees beauty in the everyday world. With his work he wants to make the viewers look at their surroundings with new eyes and see what he sees, beauty in the mundane.


Wartena taught web-page design and Photoshop at the Edinburgh School of Art for the Centre for Continuing Studies and the Edinburgh Council. He also taught a workshop in comics at Musselburgh Grammar School. In 2007 he was invited to work with the second and third-year students at his old art school in the Netherlands.


Wartena also curates and organises art exhibitions. He set up the association Perennial Art. The aim of this group is to curate exhibitions within temporary spaces.


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