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De Pijp Station

Amalia Pica, ‘Sipping colors’, 2017

De Pijp | Neighbourhood

The De Pijp Station is located under the Ceintuurbaan and is the narrowest station on the metro line: the tracks lie on top of each other and the entrances are indoors; they are located in housing blocks with dwellings above them. De Pijp is mainly used for commuter travel by around 18,000 passengers a day. The station sits in the middle of one of Amsterdam’s most beloved neighbourhoods. A mix of the Albert Cuyp street market and Hema, Indonesian take-aways and trendy eateries, working-class neighbourhood and yuppie district. An ideal treasure-house for an artist to explore. What makes de Pijp special now as well as in the past? How can we describe the neighbourhood’s characteristic atmosphere?

The art commission for De Pijp included two locations: the wall in the 190-meter-long station concourse-hall, where the traveller opts for the direction North or South, and the two entrance areas of the station. The artists were asked that their design for the station concourse-hall reflect the qualities of the neighbourhood that produce its unique atmosphere. Because of the narrowness of the station, the artwork had to preserve a certain degree of lightness while creating coherence and a place of rest within the bustle of the concourse-hall. The artwork for the entrance areas had to function as a linking element between the neighbourhood above ground and the artwork based on De Pijp on the underground concourse-hall wall.


Amalia Pica and Remco van Gulik discussing the original work | Photo: Véronique Baar


Amalia Pica (Neuquén, AR, 1978) was awarded the commission. In previous work, Pica connected several people with one another, each holding on to a chain of coloured flags. The same flags later, doused with water, released their dye on a large sheet of paper. Pica often reworks ideas and motifs. Once she has developed and shaped a theme and has brought it into existence, it offers her the opportunity to reflect on it again and to give it a different direction or shape. The motif of the chain of flags was the starting point for the De Pijp artwork.

Festive flags are sometimes considered a South American phenomenon. However, the Argentine Pica saw them for the first time only after she had been living in the Netherlands for a while, in De Pijp, and she also bought her first set here. Pica associates the flags with street parties, a festive gathering of people who do not know each other or do not know each other well, and they evoke for her the same shared sense of exuberance as De Pijp with its colourful Albert Cuyp market. For Pica the flags are a metaphor for how we can share the public space in a positive way.

In the De Pijp Station the strongly abstracted flags occupy a very minimalist and restrained place in the two entrance areas; they form a connection between the neighbourhood and the underground station and offer a prelude to the actual artwork in the underground concourse-hall.

In the skin

There Pica let the colours of the flags seep down into the station as a metaphor for the colours of the neighbourhood. Pica deliberately wanted a work that is restrained and does not impose itself on the traveller. She therefore worked in the station’s architecture and opted for a materialization in the glass tiles of the walls. So you see the colours seep from top to bottom, almost as if the glass tiles are windows.

The colours in the wall are the actual colours that the festive flags produce. Pica made several watercolours by wetting the flags and letting the colours run on a sheet of paper scaled to the proportions of the concourse-hall wall. She chose the best watercolour, with a nice rhythm, an occasionally erratic course of the dye and unique spots and splashes that had formed during the making. Pica understood that these details would actually work on a large scale. The watercolour was scanned, and after extensive research into materials, it was decided to print the digitized watercolour on a foil and place it in layered tempered glass, which has the same composition as the standard glass used in the stations: a grey back layer, a front layer with relief and a dot pattern.


Amalia Pica inspects the the first part of the installed work | Photo: Jorrit ‘t Hoen

About the artist

Amalia Pica has exhibited widely, including in the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Chisenhale Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. During her residency at the Rijksakademie she lived in Amsterdam. Pica works in series: motifs and techniques repeatedly return, from flags to Venn diagrams, signal masts and quiet, long-lasting performances.

About the work

Title: ‘Sipping colors’ | Opening 21 July 2018. | Material: print made from a watercolour, between glass. | Measurement: circa 4 x 190 m (concourse-hall wall) and two circa 4 x 10 m (entrance area walls).