‘I don’t draw for children. I draw for one child, and that’s myself, the child I used to be.’
Thé Tjong-Khing is one of the Netherlands’ most famous children’s book illustrators. Khing’s drawings for stories by writers such as Els Pelgrom and Annie M.G. Schmidt still resonate with adults today. His cartoons depicting his flights of fantasy, such as 2004’s Waar is de taart? (Where is the cake?), and his retelling and illustration of fairy tales in De sprookjesverteller (The Fairytale Teller) (2018) are firm family favourites.
Keen eye for detail
This exhibition features a selection of Thé Tjong-Khing’s illustrations from the past twenty years. Thé Tjong-Khing has a singular drawing style, the recurring qualities of which are menace, humour and referencing art and fashion. His keen eye for detail sketches ominous environments and concocts funny situations. Upon closer inspection, Thé Tjong-Khing’s illustrations also often reference famous works of art.
Practice in front of the mirror
Although 87, Thé Tjong-Khing’s child-like enthusiasm endures. To help him with his captivatingly humorous and recognizable drawings, his studio has a full-length mirror for him to practice his stories’ characters’ postures: a fighting knight, frightened princess, conceited Puss in Boots. Thé Tjong-Khing continues to draw every day at a more considered pace.
Accompanying the exhibition of his drawings is a treasure hunt, a reading corner, a drawing table and a wall drawing by Thé Tjong-Khing that you can add to and help complete.
Thé Tjong-Khing (Purworejo, Indonesia, 1933) studied at the Art Academy in Bandung. Aged 26 he came to the Netherlands, becoming a draftsperson at Toonder Studios. He started illustrating children’s books in the 1970s and received three times the Gouden Penseel award for the best illustrated children’s book.