Pedro Kastelijns

Text/ Construção [ba graduation thesis]

Pedro Kastelijns


"Another Brick in The Wall”
"Todos os Olhos" 

Brick Walls and Music
Collaboration Between Different Interlocutors/ Footprints

"Amster-damn state of mind"
“Rumo á Goiânia"

Taking Life Into Your Own Hands
MANIVELA/ Getting Excited Again
We must build/ CONCLUSION
Active creative interlocutors? Or alienated/ uncreative “collaboration"?



“Another Brick in The Wall”

The brick wall is capable of giving a sense of unity, beauty and perfection; of a system that works along together – “brothers” and “sisters" helping one another, side by side, top and bottom, everyone being held and holding others as well, each unit having a place and importance within the whole. But what about when this ‘democratic structure’, this network of co-dependent units starts to tend more towards oppression rather to unity and collaboration? The brick wall is also capable of trapping; each rectangular shape is forcibly tied by cement to one another. Solid unities far from malleable, trapped in one single space, filling a “slot". Every single piece helps build the whole, definitely, but at the same time, each brick is separated and alienated from one another, trapped around rigid cement. What kind of unity and collaboration is that? If you see the brick wall as a big system and each brick as an individual, one could say that the brick wall does not give agency, malleability, or freedom of expression for each unity itself, instead genuinely serving only the architect of this system.

I’m deeply surrounded by the darkness of my own eyes, sunk in blankets and a bad pillow. Something is slightly pinching my body up, trying to take me out of my hazy state. I feel lazy, my back is a bit out of place, there is a strange taste and sensation in my mouth, out of the window I see this bland gigantic mass of gray. Am I already waking up? I did not even set an alarm; I'd rather be still sleeping if I could choose. I try harder, to go back, I remember being so excited jumping into bed the night before, probably around 3 am, just wishing to go somewhere else, meet someone new in a dream, have some bizarre, fragmented sensation or perhaps just forget I ever existed for a couple of hours, to vanish within myself. I go back, starting from the tip of my toes and fingers my body slowly evaporates, my mind is slowly diminishing its pace, how my nice it is, being surround…Then again, something is pinching my body even harder this time, my neck complains and the weird taste in my mouth is still there, just now I also have a sort of headache plus my window view seems a little heavier. My body is pulling me towards life, after all these thousands of years of human evolution, perhaps it still has remnants of the times when a predator could attack me during sleep, or maybe it thinks I need to store some fat in my body in order to survive, instead, I just need to brush my teeth and order a cappuccino, how exciting.

For a while It was hard getting out of bed, hitting a gray wall while looking out of my window in the morning. My days almost always would start offbeat. I remember then getting out of my home and just facing all these identical houses side by side, this typical working-class neighborhood. Everything was so bland and stacked on top of each other – so solid, so immutable. Also stupid somehow, because of how pragmatic that environment looked from top to bottom, completely built, assembled and tightened up together. Going to my destination, one step after the other, looking towards the ground the same sensation hit me, I was stepping into hundreds of sequenced concrete tiles only sided by asphalt. A few meters ahead, the concrete tile sequence is interrupted by a stale and unsure circle, holding inside itself a couple of malnourished hairs of light green grass completely soaked by water, trying it’s best to stand up at least a bit. Damn! Where am I?  

Walking through the streets became quite nauseating, I did not know how to deal with the fact that my feet, tightened up inside shoes, would be walking through such stale land. Everywhere my gaze reached felt like hitting a wall, from the gray dense layers of cloud up to the skies to miles and miles of concrete floor beneath my feet. My life felt like being inside a washing machine, stopping at the red light, proceeding after a green one, hopping in and out of spaces and occasions according to what they were designated for.    

Perhaps the only space I felt like I could escape from all this was at the studio – sitting at my desk, staring at a blank piece of paper. That piece of paper was the only space I felt I could own, appropriate, subvert. Somehow, one day, moving through a flow of ideas I decided to draw an object made of bricks.  It was a ball, but a brick ball and while drawing it I thought of how ridiculous it would be to kick one and get your feet broken.   

I left this small drawing hanging on the wall of my studio for a few days. It was not a great drawing but there was something funny about it, of how compact this "ball” looked and the way it carried itself, having a certain type of captivating stupidity. I enjoyed seeing it as a ball made to deceive people in order to break toes, like a trap from a Looney Tunes cartoon, but also a hole – a hole broken into a black surface – a hole revealing orange rectangles.

Days passed and I continued exploring the idea of "bricking” things in several small drawings, while in each day, as usual, I did the same path on my way to the studio and my way home, stopping at the red light, proceeding after a green one, hopping in and out whenever I’m asked, using spaces and occasions according to what they were designated for. Suddenly I saw something that reminded me of my most recent drawings: Rectangles piled up flaty, each one holding up two others, one on each shoulder. Looking closely every rectangle was touched and kissed by time in a different way. Some were more worn out than others, holding an incredible variation of red and orange tones; others had faded paint, reminiscence of graffiti, bits of green from plants and moss trying to find a way out or in. Looking up I saw that the top part had different textures compared to the very bottom and the gray lines in between each rectangle also had their own way of being, sometimes with spans in between, some parts missing or popping out of place. And all of this was held together by a grid of very particular rhythm.

"When your eyes are open you see beauty in anything.” Agnes Martin 1

"Todos os Olhos"

It's probably two in the morning, I look out of the window and its pitch black. I do see some lights not so far away in the horizon, but far enough to be just a blur. Looking up at the sky I see three stars, suddenly seven, but then I still missed a couple to my left. Can’t count anymore, apparently the longer I look the more I see. Then surprisingly, what reveals itself is something not so far away as the stars. A long wall of palm trees a few meters away from me is now visible to my eyes, emerging from darkness, their leaves swaying back and forth, guiding my eyes towards the red soil and silver grass ants unnoticed before are now heard.

“When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection."
Agnes Martin 2

The experience of really “seeing” this brick wall for the first time was enlightening; it gave me a new perspective on my surroundings and an insight on looking. My entire perspective shifted from that day on – My environment, which till then had represented boredom, heaviness, repetition and alienation, suddenly opened up for me as a completely new place, full of new possibilities to be seen and discovered. I am not certain how this shift of perspective took place; perhaps my mind could not get around being so sick of the same things, and in order to secure my mental well-being and biological existence it flipped a switch, thus giving new meaning to what had been slowly taking the life out of me. Maybe it was my mind’s survival extinct. Whatever it was, I embraced it fully.

Following this change of perspective, I became like an archaeologist, hunting and collecting brick walls. I did so through photographs. From then on, I was often on roads, streets, sidewalks and narrow paths, staring into people’s windows and at brick façades. Surprisingly, the more I went looking, the more they revealed themselves to me.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell 3



If one pays attention there are many adjectives and ways of talking about a brick wall that is similar when talking about music. A brick wall contains rhythm, polyrhythm, weight, nuance, colour, intervals, and silence. It can also be offbeat, broken, perfect, irregular. It can "sing" with shininess or murkiness. The grid of a brick wall also suggests the physical and mathematical structures that music and sound waves are limited to: time and space. Therefore, a "clean” brick wall can be seen not only as a composition in itself, with its own characteristics and intricacies, but also as a blank sheet of a music notebook, demarcating space and time in its own way, a template ready to receive anything extra to it. 


Some brick walls are so clean and mathematically well-structured they sound like a minimalistic and repetitive piece of music; a single note being hit exactly six seconds after the other for minutes straight. Some might alternate the note or perhaps be interrupted by a loud and courageous drawing sprayed by someone, then continue, calmly, eternally. Some resemble electronic, clean, machine-made music, where the beat hits right on time, always, in a hypnotic fashion. But the streets are dirty, people pass by all the time, cars throw smoke in the air, and there is garbage. And then there is nature itself; plant roots breaking in, moss growing outward and bushes blocking the view, joining the composition. The seasons of time will inevitably affect any wall you can think of, slowly but surely.

Besides the agents that it might be subjected to, a brick wall can also be executed in many different ways: very professionally, on a budget, in a hurry, or with a lack of experience. All those variants will give a different mood to each brick and each interval between them, changing not only the walls’ entire rhythm but also the way each single brick will sound. Think of a brick wall that was built by a certain someone, time passed, changing each brick in its own particular way. Now imagine that the same wall, months later, was now considered not tall enough, and for practical reasons, this certain someone decides to expand the same wall with a different variety of bricks. Years later, this same wall, now with a different builder responsible for it decides it was again not tall enough, adding a third layer of bricks. How does that sound to you?

For many this wall might sound irregular, undesirable, unpractical, or ugly. But if you look at it, and are attentive to its rhythm and composition, each characteristic that would be seen first as simply unpleasant can now be perceived in a different light. One can then be able to see each brick carrying a unique sensibility, its different and clashing patterns as intricate and rich polyrhythmic grooves, its dissonance of great courage and inquiry, the color variations as the strength and temperature each note breaths and the mold as a note’s being muted, or maybe as broken keys on a piano.

Collaboration Between Different Interlocutors/ Footprints

A beautiful thing about walls being on the streets is that eventually, they are going to be somehow altered, destroyed, drawn on or subverted. If we look at these brick walls as a musical composition, we are then talking about a collaborative composition. In this collaborative piece a wall can be seen as a vessel for different footprints coexisting together, made by not only one person or phenomena, but many of them, in different times and manners, all of them giving a trace and contribution to the overall thing. Think of a mathematical grid structure being subverted by a child’s silly chalk drawing, coexisting with a poster of someone looking for a missing cat that will be run over by bigger posters. Eventually, all these elements will be removed due to a broken pipe across this same wall, necessitating a new set of bricks right there.

This amalgamation of different types of “footprints” and “recordings" on top of one another really fascinates me and is a great inspiration for my practice. When I work these days, I look for the same feel, the same tactility a wall might have, a vibrant energy, an improvisation and collaboration between different interlocutors within space, time and manner. Because of all the "grooviness" I feel coming from these walls, it is hard to not think of Jazz music when I look at them. Jazz Is a vast genre that has been expanded and rethought in many ways since its conception in the late XIX century, but a common ground it shares throughout time is its complex harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and a heavy emphasis on improvisation among musicians. These are characteristics many brick walls have. Some share the similar energy of a hip hop track, a certain grittiness in the groove, the heavy and repetitive rhythm of constant structure that goes right down your face, a harshness that only the streets have, and that hip hop has too. I think of sampling, collaborating from records recorded years ago, mixing different recordings and sounds to create that one thing. 

It's about the fascination and pleasure of seeing different interlocutors working together; almost forcing the limits of what would be considered harmonious or not. I like to do that with my own music; when I get a recording of a person playing drums, I will sample it to make that human groove sound robotic, forcing it right into the grid of my software; and on top of that I lay a cold sounding "fake" piano, and finally bring my warm human voice on top of all that, making it all work somehow; these very distinct sources of origin combined together to make one thing. This can be done with varying degrees of complexity, but creating an amalgamation of things is the fascination. Perhaps having a song that has five minutes of an improvised abstract soundscape on piano, followed by a two-minute catchy pop chorus, like David Salle painting “The Happy Writers" sounds to me.

The Happy Writers by David Salle, acrylic on canvas, 182 x 279 cm, 1981.

Something that happens inevitably on walls, is that most of the time you can distinguish which person made each mark. The same person that will spray a brick wall with graffiti is rarely the same person that builds it. Time will affect and decay bricks in a way a human would not, and a wall containing posters with different designs will bring another tangent into play. A poster's very shape, a rectangle in itself, will join and alter the rhythm of the whole composition. And this is the beautiful thing about it, if you see a wall as a whole one can get surprised and very inspired by its many organic, chaotic or often brilliant, not obvious visual results. In the end, amalgamation and combination of ideas is part of every creative process, of putting different things together, in order to create something new. Most great music of recent history has this as a characteristic. One of the reasons the Velvet Underground was and still is so interesting, for example, was the combination of pop Rock’n’roll song writing brought in by Lou Reed, in combination with the avant-garde drone music and natural harmonics that John Cale had been exploring previously with composer La Monte Young.

I believe almost any popular genre of music we know today has gone through a very fragile moment of experimentation, a combination of different elements, trying to coexist and work together. Before things blend in a homogenous way to eventually become “something named”, there is a period of strangeness and awkwardness, of heterogeneous ideas trying to fit together with playfulness, inventiveness, inquiry and very honest, fragile experimentation. This does not only happen in music but in all areas where creativity occurs. These strange and fragile moments are part of the beauty of the creative act. When I see these walls with awkward signs and blunt footprints, trying to coexist on the same plane, I also see the same spark that the most fragile and honest moments of being creative have. As an artist, looking at these special moments, I could not be more delighted.


Precarious constructions and unfinished houses sit side by side with luxurious canal houses, the flat landscape is interrupted by some hilly streets. People are chilling in front of their gated homes, wearing flip-flops, talking rubbish and drinking cheap beer next to expensive clothing shops. The air stinks from the open sewage pouring into the canals; two blocks away the water is pristinely clean. The street lighting is irregular; two yellow lamps follow five white lamps, then three broken ones follow on. In front of the Albert Heijn supermarket a woman is shouting "bottled water!" and a man is selling fresh tropical fruit – they only accept cash. Rich kids are flying kites from their balconies and poor kids are flying drones in the streets. Canal houses are built with Brazilian bricks and without insulation. Historical buildings create shade on top of a mini slum. Over to the left there is a big mango tree. I wake up. I guess this city is me.

"Amster-damn state of mind"

Over the two years I have been hunting walls, something that fascinates me is its plurality. The fascination started in the Netherlands, where I have been living since 2017, due to my studies. As described earlier, before becoming a passion, these Dutch walls of mostly brick were for me synonymous with oppression, boredom, stiffness and repetitiveness. Not only the walls but the entire landscape represented that for me. Everything is human-made in the Netherlands, everything is planned, thought-out and put there for some reason. It’s also fully occupied. There is barely any space left – everyone lives on top of each other. It can feel as if there is very little space for spontaneity. The old architecture, as seen in the city center, is beautiful, but also so “set in stone”, somehow stuck and paralyzing, impenetrable. Many of the most recent buildings, mostly on the peripheries of the city, feel blunt and minimal, still structurally and mathematically well put together, but somewhat dry and Spartan.

My shift of perspective, when I "saw” that brick wall for the first time, was also a workout that went along with my art practice. Drawing what was oppressing me, the act of putting bricks on paper and to basically "brick” other things as well, was a way of dealing with my suffering, with the “Another Brick in The Wall” feeling of a forced framing of my being, feeling stuck in a loop, being eaten alive by the city grid. These drawings were a way to heal myself and to practice laughing at what was oppressing me, therefore transcending my situation. It was a way to digest the density I felt coming from the intense urban planning of The Netherlands, and a society that whether you want it or not, in varying degrees, also mirrors these qualities through its social behaviours.

Brick wall composition 1 by Pedro Kastelijns, colour pencil on paper, 21 x 30 cm, 2021.  

Brick wall composition 3 by Pedro Kastelijns, colour pencil on paper, 21 x 30 cm, 2021.

The process of using my art practice as a healing practice was quite successful. I was still able to see the oppression, repetition and boredom in my surroundings, but now I was able to see the bright side of it and also to stick with that perspective as long as I wanted, therefore laugh at it. On my long walks I would see certain buildings, walls or structures that were so stale, so blunt, Spartan and stupid that they would become simply hilarious, and I loved that feeling. I began to cherish things I did not before and to genuinely enjoy the work of Mondrian, Carl Andre, Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, and others. I learned to cherish each line, each rectangle, square, and shape within any composition. My sensibility went towards another level. In my music practice the same happened – I went looking for minimal sounds, drone, and repetition. Each sound, each wave would be heard with the utmost attentiveness and care.

But there is only a limited time I can stay put in one place in the globe. It had been four years since I was last in my home country, Brazil, and I was more than hungry to dive into a different environment. Going to Brazil, more specifically Goiânia, my hometown, after these years away was shockingly weird and bizarrely beautiful. When arriving I felt like this elegant blank sheet of paper, someone that was living inside a Mondrian painting, walking on Carl Andre’s works, trying to levitate like an Agnes Martin painting, and biking listening to Steve Reich. On the very first day upon my arrival, everything about me that was straight bent a little – desired and undesired colors invade the frame, the Sun burns my tonsils, dust and smoke invade my system, dodecaphonic dissonance hits me straight up. Damn! Where am I?

Brazil hit me straight in the face and it was gorgeous. Plus, the sensibility I had developed in the Netherlands towards brick walls could now be cherished and enjoyed beautifully in this landscape. I was extremely happy to see something different.

“It’s in the suburbs that there is vitality, deception, depression, energy, utopia, autonomy, craziness, creativity, destruction, ideas, young people, hope, fights to be fought, audaciousness, disagreements, problems, and dreams. It’s in the suburbs that today’s big issues are written on the building facades. It’s in the suburbs that today’s reality can be grasped, and it’s in the suburbs that the pulse of vitality hurts. It’s in the suburbs that there is necessity and urgency. It’s the suburbs that will save the city center from a most certain death!” Thomas Hirschhorn 4

"Rumo á Goiânia"

Goiânia, the city where I come from stays right in the middle of the country, in the state of Goiás. It is landlocked; there is no sea, no beaches to be seen. The region was not only discovered but populated quite late in relation to other areas of the country, as Brazil’s occupation started mostly along the coasts. Goiânia, the nowadays biggest city and capital of the state of Goiás has more than one and a half million inhabitants but less than 90 years of history, a very short space of time compared to cities in the Netherlands, and also other major cities in Brazil, colonized during the XVI century. Although I come from the capital of my state, Goiânia is extremely provincial. Brazil is already “behind” in many aspects when compared to countries in the West, or Global North. So you could say Goiânia is the "provincial of the provincial” – a place "behind” in a country that it's already “behind." Goiânia is literally the "world’s farm” since its main economic activities are cattle and gigantic monocultures of soybeans and corn. If you are in Goiânia you are immediately and inevitably in the outskirts of Brazil, therefore the outskirts of the world in a way. You might be able to have internet, cable TV, eat Cheetos and buy Levis, but you are still on the periphery. This is confirmed just by looking at its surroundings; in my case, registered through many photographs I took of constructions, walls, gates, and fences.

In Goiânia there are also shopping malls, closed communities inspired by Miami suburbs and silly glass and steel buildings depending on the neighborhood your in. But these areas are a minority. Brazil is a chaotic place, and Goiânia is part of that, having an inevitably precarious infrastructure and super-alive force of nature. The city is always falling apart; as nature tries to take over, humans find ways of fixing or coexisting with it in more or less successful ways. It’s possible to see a papaya tree trying to grow in between a brick wall. Layers of intense red soil, very present in my region, between missing concrete on the sidewalk. Unfinished houses that people move into anyway.

That same energy also happens upon its city walls. I was able to find the weirdest color combinations, use of multiple and unexpected materials, improvised signalling, clashing images and symbols that together would create hilariously odd narratives for those who might want to read it. Proportions would be challenged, mathematical harmony and composition defied.

What fascinated me is that observing the walls in Brazil I would see "picture planes" that carried an urgency, courage, attitude and inquiry that in The Netherlands I would observe only in museums or art galleries. These walls would play to me, like a rich Jazz fusion, samba, or hip hop track. What I had learned to resent and find ugly when I was growing up there, after spending time away now looked rich and unique. To my eyes the city felt like a gigantic installation, a big and crazy art project telling me new stories.

Something beautiful and very specific to walls in Brazil is the presence of people’s hands on them. Of course, brick walls in The Netherlands were lifted brick by brick using hands, but many times the "hand work" is somehow spotless, anonymous looking. In Brazil, you can see very distinctly the presence of the human hand, the different kinds of marks working together, each with their own specific personality. For me as someone that draws and paints, mark-making is key and what “I live for.” As a musician, my hands and fingers are of crucial importance to how I play a note or chord. Therefore, to be able to see so many hands of distinct collaborators and mark-makings working together on the same picture plane is extremely delightful and inspiring.

This is where I come back to the fragile moment of the creative process. How the great spark of creating something new is normally preceded by a moment of strangeness, even ugliness, of weird elements and ideas trying to work together. The very fragile and most special moment of the creative process is what I see when I look at these walls in Brazil.

Brazil has undeniable creative energy in the air, not only on its streets but within nature as well, everywhere. It is an enormous landmass with an endless horizon which makes the sky look immense and the clouds gigantic. Sounds resonate over long distances; nature can be vast, deep, rooted, and not yet fully known or studied, having shapes, lines, colors, and a tactility that is incredibly plural and unique. In its cities as I described earlier, the lack of infrastructure does not get in the way of things still happening the way they can. Skin colors and ethnicities blend in many shades and combinations, new words and slangs are constantly born, the streets are full of sound; spiritual traditions are broken, merged, reshaped, reimagined. It is a very rich melting pot and a place still under construction. It feels like a place where the new can arise and things are not yet known or completely understood, where traditions and dogmas are invariably questioned, even if unconsciously. It is a place where there are many sources not yet well used or even discovered.

I am not ignorant of the social inequalities and sufferings that Brazil undergoes politically and as a society. Many of the walls I mention here happen to exist due to a lack of technical knowledge or simply resources, and bring the necessity to improvise and to “solve situations yourself”, since governments can be quite absent of their social functions. I am in no way giving praise to poverty either. What I admire especially in Brazilian walls, beside their visual richness and plurality, is the attitude behind them. It’s the fact that people will construct and shape their environments the way they can, with the knowledge they have and the resources they have. That whatever government is in power, things still need to be done and they will get done, within the system or without it. Because I believe that no matter how “good” and responsible a government is, or however much social care and assistance it will give to its population, essentially every single individual needs to get in touch with their creative capabilities in order to shape the life they want to live. It’s about getting in touch with the creator within ourselves, acknowledging that no matter what we are always responsible for our own lives, having the need to choose how to live it, working the best out of the capabilities, resources, and contexts we are in.

I believe then that walls in Brazil show people in touch with creativity and their creative power. It does not matter that it comes out of necessity, because creativity IS. An artist also creates out of necessity. It surely comes from a different place, a different kind of necessity, urgency, but still, this is necessity resulting in creative action.

Taking life into your own hands

You wake up, eat a croissant, brush your teeth, wear your double pants before leaving home because it’s cold outside, hop on your bike, pass the slower ones, are passed by the quicker ones, might go to a class, meet up with someone, have small talk and laugh about something you did or did not find funny. Then you might try to work on something, go back home, eat this "all right" dinner you cooked yourself, watch something, go to sleep. You do this a couple of times, repeatedly, with more or fewer variations. Perhaps one day you cannot get out of bed, but then you change that, “get back on track” again, keep going, and then… and then nothing!

It is quite a realization when suddenly you see yourself as an “adult”… I remember being such a happy child. Everything came very naturally to me: a joy for living, laughter, spontaneity, ability to make friends, talk with people, strangers even, to express myself in general: sweet traits and bitter ones too. Memories of early sexuality and bodily realizations, of discovering my body simply and without much thought, just feeling and playing around. Meanwhile, in the background, parents are constantly stressed, fighting among themselves even, working day and night to pay rent and bills. They not only drive you around to school, friends, but also feed you the best they can and make sure you don’t swim or play too hard after eating. All this to give you a solid structure you can rely on, so you are safe to be a creative, playful and curious child.

That sensation of safety and eternal play, discovery and fun starts to slowly fade away as you get older and realize that all you had did not come for free. Someone worked and fought hard for it, even sacrificing themselves. That time, money and energy was to guarantee that beautiful structure you were benefiting from and that sooner or later you will need to create your own structure, that you will need to throw yourself into the world and make something out of life, and that you’re the only one truly responsible for it.

After the adolescent euphoria where you are still discovering very basic human emotions and experiences, suddenly, the day comes, when you wake up at 1pm and realize: "Jesus Christ, I’m alive…!" And a huge silence hits. You realize that if you do not clean yourself no one is going to tell how bad you smell, but most likely no one will want to be around you. That if you don’t make some effort to cook and eat something you are just going to starve. But even if you’re cooking and cleaning after yourself, being “responsible” and employed, it could be that you hate your job and truly want to do something else, and if you do not take the time and organization to move out of this frustrating situation you are just going to be stuck in a loop. 

Perhaps you are doing exactly what you want to do and are also taking good care of material and practical necessities but still, you are a bit depressed and unexcited, not remembering the last time you had a good laugh; you feel out of touch with your spontaneity and just hate waking up. Everything is apparently fine but suddenly you realize that you have been slightly miserable for months on end. You might think everything is fine, besides, there is no lack of material resources in your life, you are doing what you like the most and what else can you expect from it? But there is something missing… What is it?

Sadly, amid all this coming and going sometimes you will hear: a friend of a friend committed suicide. A year later and you hear the same story again, three months later and… again! It’s scary! You see people imploding: You are not the only one struggling with life but apparently some struggle much more than you. Someone was alive, a day after and they're not, then you think “Wow, I’m still alive!... I’m still here". It’s quite confronting to put thought into it. “What am I going to do now?"


I’ve been seeing many walls for some time now and besides the plurality in shape, composition, color, dimension or material, one thing they have in common is that they all stand by themselves thanks to a structure. It does not matter how this structure is made, but it’s always there, keeping everything together in one way or another.

After this initial structure is created, it becomes a plane for play and interaction between the “hands” and “marks”. From here everything can happen. It is as if walls emulate the dynamic between responsible parent and child - someone creating space and structure, a plane, for a child to play and mess around. I find that very interesting.

Eventually, growing up as an adult, you realize that as a brick wall you need to be able to assess and have these two sides of the coin at the same time. You’ve got to be your own “parent”, creating structure and organization for yourself in order to provide safe ground for playing, exploration and joy.


A realization I had after observing so many different walls is that creating a structure does not need to be necessarily a boring or mundane task. Creating a structure should imply as much creativity, joy and pleasure as the moments delegated for play and discovery upon such structures. In fact, they can both benefit from one another. Different ways of bricklaying create different walls with distinct compositions and rhythms that will inform what kind of mark-making will subsequently come into play and vice versa, especially since structures are not static but can be altered, bent, added, or destroyed. The same thing happens in music-making – A composition can take whatever turn you want, it can be chorus1/ verse1/ chorus1/ verse1/ surprise but also chorus1/ chorus2/ verse1/ bridge1/ bridge2/ chorus2/ chorus1/ surprise/ verse2/ surprise.


MANIVELA/ getting excited again

teste Manivela w grid 1 by Pedro Kastelijns, gouache on paper, 20 x 30 cm, 2021.

'Manivela' is a hand I have been drawing for a while now. Between my period of “bricking” things, I thought: Let me brick a hand. Along with this hand I unconsciously added a spoon with a candle on it. I drew that repeatedly. First because I was very fascinated by the purely visual aspect of it, the fact that the hand’s lines would clash with the brick wall pattern creating an intricate image. I did 'Manivela’ in many different shapes and forms and it was pure fun. But it did not take long for me to realize how symbolically meaningful Manivela was in relation to my life at the moment.

'Manivela’ is a hand that is trying to figure out and navigate life. It is the hand of someone who realized that life has got to be lived, considered, and taken care of in a responsible, active, playful and creative way. It does not carry a spotlight nor a lantern, but a kitchen spoon holding a candle on its end. Not much ahead can be seen or anticipated but still it’s not navigating in complete darkness. It is also a hand that was traumatized once it realized its condition and position in an oppressive and "griddified" world but has been able to heal better, confronting it’s fears and realizing the importance of creative structure building and engagement in one’s life.

'Manivela’ is a way forward.

We must build/ CONCLUSION

I believe that in the world we live in today, life is demanding, boring, intense, and sometimes even merciless. People implode, go through traumas that are not healed and tough situations of all kinds. The human experience is traumatic in many ways, for all of us. Amid all this, one must not forget to have fun, excitement, to be in touch with joy and spontaneity, with the ability to play and be creative.

Growing up we distance ourselves from this joy, this sense of play and spontaneity that are so easily accessible when we are kids. I believe being in touch with those feelings is very important. Owning that is not only living responsibly but also a revolutionary act: To fight for your joy, the right to play, freedom, experiment and have fun. We all got to find our own way to do it, and it does not come for free. As adults we have to work for it, find out, nourish and maintain it ourselves. That can mean finding out what you love to draw the most, but also how you want to love someone, how you interact with others or basically how do you want to live your life. All that needs to be built, discovered, and felt through experimentation, play and joy. Our lives are our biggest artworks!

Therefore, like walls are built, we need to build our own lives too. That’s why these walls fascinate me so much. We cannot take for granted that we have the ability to play, construct and do something that can take shape in this world and dimension we live in. The Brazilian walls inspire me the most because they carry an ability to improvise, of doing things the way you can, with the knowledge you have at the present moment and the resources available for you. I find these very noble qualities. After deeply looking and “chasing” these brick walls during my trip to Brazil, I was able to extract philosophical knowledge and attitude from it which since then I apply not only to my art practice but also to my life in general.

I believe we must build, construct and seek our own personal structures, fighting for our joy, ability to play, be creative and spontaneous. Have you been playing fair? Or even playing at all? Where does your joy come from? What kind of foundation have you been building on? Is it groovy? Perhaps a bit too stiff? Could it take some more collaboration? Improvisation? Is it beautiful? How? Do you want to change it or add something? Maybe completely demolish it, in order to start anew. What kind of tools do you need from now on? In which land, weather and environment would your construction benefit the most?............

"What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we open doors, we go down staircases, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed in order to sleep. How? Why? Where? When? Why? Describe your street. Describe another street. Compare. […]” Georges Perec 5



Active creative interlocutors? Or alienated/ uncreative “collaboration"?

I am aware that these walls I mention in my text are not works of art done by conscious artists per se. I am also conscious of the fact that what I call “collaboration” between many different interlocutors could be seen as "not creative”, but scattered and alienated information “randomly” piled up on top of each other. The thing is that from my point of view and interest these things are not relevant.

A sonic experience I had once can explain why: I sat down to eat a snack close to the conservatory building on a sunny day in Goiânia. As I sat I immediately heard a super intriguing piece: extremely dissonant saxophones intertwining between one another, odd rhythms clashing hard, among all the mess a piano was clearly going up and down the scale, and muffled singing could be heard as well. I was so delighted and did not imagine the conservatory would be producing such intriguing music, "Is this a group? A jam session?", I look up towards the building and to my surprise, the rehearsal rooms had most of their windows open: I was not listening to any sort of group or collective conscious effort, I was listening to individuals rehearsing and playing completely different things at the same time, each of them in their respective rehearsal rooms with open windows. Something clicked for me on that day.

For a second I got disappointed. I wished this “group” was real and that perhaps I could listen to a proper concert, recording or perhaps get in touch with the individuals that were producing this music, hear their inspirations, reasoning’s and thoughts behind aesthetic and compositional choices. In this case that was out of question. But turning my attention again to what my ears were exclusively perceiving all this suddenly did not matter anymore. It became about the existence of the very present moment and my "desire less" perception of it. Suddenly I did not care if this was a conscious group effort or not, my ears just wanted to experience that sonic moment and be delighted. I sat down listening to this for a long time. It was just great.

The same can be seen with brick walls: it happens to be a plane that registers mark making and decision making from many individuals, it’s also subjected to biological matter like mold and moss, but also time, seen in the decay of material for example. This all together creates a symphony that is open to be seen, witnessed and even felt for those who are open to it. All these phenomena mentioned above that a brick wall can be subjected to carry inevitably an energy, sensation, feel and touch, the same way a painting, drawing or any work of art does. It is something that our eyes can witness and make sense out of.

I think when you are looking at a brick wall or a painting what you are doing fundamentally is witnessing existence and its phenomena. Nothing more, nothing less. The same way an artist might engage with chance, so does existence. Existence just has different “rules” of operating but essentially it’s full of manifestation and phenomena off all kinds that can be perceived, felt, interpreted, read and appreciated by all our senses, and so does art. The same way one might be able to follow and extract philosophical and conceptual thought out of a work of art, a person can extract philosophical and conceptual thought from existence. One might learn lifesaving teachings from gardening for example, perhaps from observing deeply the change of seasons; I believe the same goes for brick walls.



Marcel Duchamp, The Essential Writings of Marcel Duchamp (London: Thames and Hudson, 1975).
Barbara Haskell, Agnes Martin (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1992).
Thomas Hirschhorn, Thomas Hirschhorn (New York: Phaidon Press, 2004).
Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Panic Fables: Mystic Teachings and Initiatory Tales (Rochester: Park Street Press, 2017).
Wassily Kandinsky, Do Espiritual na Arte (São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1990).
Brian O’Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, Expanded Edition (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999).
Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture Without Architects (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1964)
Osho, Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2011).
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Trans. Stephen Mitchell's (London: Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, 1999).
Catherine de Zegher, 3x An Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing by Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin (London: Yale University Press, 2005).


Herbie Hancock, Crossings (Warner Records, 1972).
Hermeto Pascoal, Cérebro Magnético (WEA International, 1980).
Jorge Ben, Força Bruta (Universal Music International, 1970).
Leandro & Leonardo, Volume 11 (WEA International, 1994).
Leci Brandão, Leci Brandão (EMI Records Brasil, 1985).
Madlib, Shades of Blue (Capitol Records, 2003).
Madvillain, Madvillainy (Stones Throw, 2004).
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Sony Music, 1970).
Miles Davis, On The Corner (Sony Music, 1972).
Milton Nascimento, Minas (EMI Brasil, 1975).
Mos Def, Black on Both Sides (Rawkus, 1999).
Nas, Illmatic (Columbia Records, 1994).
Pantha Du Prince, XI Versions of Black Noise (Rough Trade Records, 2011).
Pauline Oliveros, Accordion & Voice (Lovely Music, 1982).
Pink Floyd, The Wall (Columbia Records, 1979).
Racionais MCs, Nada Como um Dia Após o Outro (Cosa Nostra, 2002).
Robert Hood, Internal Empire (Tresor Records, 1994).
Steve Reich, The ECM Recordings (ECM Records, 2016).
Sun Ra, The Magic City (Saturn Records, 1966).
Tom Zé, Todos os olhos (Warner Music Brasil, 1973).


1 Barbara Haskell, Agnes Martin (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1992), p. 92.
2 Catherine de Zegher, 3x An Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing by Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin (London: Yale University Press, 2005), p. 159.
3 BrainyQuote, Joseph Campbell Quotes, (accessed March 23, 2022).
4 Bomb Magazine, Thomas Hirschhorn by Abraham Cruzvillegas, (accessed March 23, 2022).
5 UbuWeb Papers, The Infra-Ordinary (1973) Georges Perec, (acessed April 15, 2022).


All photographs taken by Pedro Kastelijns throughout 2020 and 2021 in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Goiânia, Cavalcante, Pirenópolis and Olhos d'Água (Brazil). All artworks done by Pedro Kastelijns throughout 2020 and 2021, except The Happy Writers by David Salle.

BA Thesis
Rietveld Fine Arts
April 2022, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Teachers: Dina Danish, Frank Mandersloot, Jean Bernard Koeman, Tao Vrhovec Sambolec.
Thesis Supervisor: Sher Doruff.
Proof Reader: Adam Murphy.

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