No Dots, no Glory!


De blauwe gasbol van Enexis in Emmen is beschilderd en getransformeerd tot kunstwerk. Vier elementen vormen inhoudelijk de basis van het ontwerp, namelijk de vier energiebronnen zonne-energie, windenergie, waterkracht en grondstoffen energie. Kunstenaars uit binnen- en buitenland stonden maar liefst acht maanden op de steigers. Het transformeren van de gasbol tot een Toyistisch kunstwerk is een idee dat in zijn oorsprong dateert van eind 1997. In 2004 is een stichting in het leven geroepen en dit heeft uiteindelijk geresulteerd in de start van de beschildering op 27 juli 2009. Na ruim acht maanden en 6000 uur met zeventien Toyisten te hebben gewerkt is De Stip op 4 juni 2010 feestelijk onthuld. Met een hoogte van 22 meter en een oppervlakte van 1250m2 is dit kunstwerk uniek in Nederland. 

The blue gasholder of Enexis in Emmen has been painted and transformed into a true work of art. Four elements form the basis of the design, the four energy sources being solar energy, wind energy, water energy and fossil fuels. Artists from across the world worked on the scaffolding for no less than eight months. Transforming the globe into a Toyistic art piece is an idea that originates from late 1997. In 2004, a trust is founded and eventually results in the commencement of the painting on July 27, 2009. After just over eight months and having worked 6000 hours with seventeen Toyists, The Dot is revealed in a festive manner on June 4, 2010. The height of 22 meters and a surface of 1250 m2 makes this artwork unique in The Netherlands.

Toyism Art Movement

Toyism is a contemporary art movement that originated in the 1990s in The Netherlands.

The word symbolises the playful character of the artworks and the philosophy behind it. The suffix ‘ism’ refers to motion or movements that exist in both the world of art and religion. Nevertheless, the game of Toyism is a serious matter that shows a new, critical and sensitive perspective on our present-day world.

Specifications THE DOT

Gas globe, built in 1963

In use until 1979

Height: 20 metres

Thickness: 2 centimetres of steel

Surface: around 1250 square metres

Currently filled with nitrogen

Project ‘Live with Energy’ started on July 14th 2009

Participants: 17 artists from around the world

Duration: 8 months

Circa 6000 m2 - Paint: 3 layers of tint, 2 layers of varnish, approximately 6000 square metres

Renovation: Project 2.015 (June 29 - August 27)


The theme of this art work is live with energy. Figurative imagery in the painting tells the story of the history of energy production. There are four sub designs based on the four elements of life: earth (raw energy), water (hydroelectric power), fire (solar energy) and air (wind power). Each sub-design presents the combination or contrast of old and new forms of energy production and their applications (the sciences). In addition to these four fundamental themes, there is a single, central figure: the tree. The tree is a metaphor for life, energy, growth, development, and change. The province of Drenthe with its rich history of peat production is also represented in the painting. 

Follow the Dots

In 2011 the publication ‘Toyism – Connecting the Dots’ was issued. In that book the importance of the dot is described, being part of the artwork created by Toyists. The publication not only illustrates the symbolism in their work, but also goes into some projects that underline the topicality and dynamic value of the movement. In ‘Connecting the Dots’ attention is given to the E-Phant project (p. 140) and also to the mega-transformation of the former spherical gas storage container of the energy company Enexis into a work of art that is popularly called De Stip (The Dot). Finally, the publication contains separate art work made by various Toyists individually. Those are not only paintings, but also a special collection of glass objects. 

In the preface of ‘Connecting the Dots’, founder of the movement, Dejo, emphasises that he is aware of the fact that there are cross links with other styles and movements that have existed in art history, but at the same time he has a clear view on the authenticity of ‘his brainchild’. One of the most important style trends concerns the use of dots. The huge wall painting on the outside of Hotel Ten Cate – a project that was realised in May 2012 – expresses the impact of this (p. 146). In his textual justification, Dejo makes a clear difference between the periods 1992 until 2000 and 2002 until the present. In the first period, when the Toyists were still operating as a triumvirate (often reduced to a duo), the figurative style, often being somewhat simplistic, dominated. Mostly the themes were worked out in a surrealistic manner and the returning presence of fixed icons (computer, space shuttle and teddy-bear) was the most common style trend. The work that was produced in this period was marked with the label ‘nursery-art’, an expression once introduced by myself (wvdb) that went on to lead a life on its own.

In the second period, to think as a group as being a reaction on the egocentric nature within the world of art became a leading principle. A new way of thinking is translated to a style dominated by graceful lines and dots. Miscellaneous contemporary subjects are dealt with. To avoid letting diverging disciplines and pictures (varying from environmental pollution to world peace, and from lust for life to inner struggle) lead to a badly organised chaos or a turbid idiom, a purposeful choice is made to use a number of fixed style trends. Using dots is one of the driving forces to guarantee connection. He who follows the dots or concentrates on the dots in the representation will automatically be absorbed in an imaginative world full of adventurous events. Lines and dots lead the spectator’s attention towards unexpected directions. They stimulate the investigative viewing habits and connect different story lines and visual elements. But there is more: dots are found in various cultures and are often used as such to express art. In the Netherlands we know the dot works from Staphorst. The method of working of the artisans that apply the dots on chairs, flowerpots, stools and other pieces of furniture is not much different from the visual art expressed by the Australian Aboriginals that also use dots pre-eminently.

Dots can be found in different sorts and sizes. They are found in art work made by the Toyists in various colours and sizes. The absolute and unsurpassed super-dot will always be the work of art that became the icon of Emmen: the painted spherical gas storage container, being 22 meters in height and 1250 square meters in surface, revealed in 2010. The Toyists that have been working on this large-scale and prestigious project, also known as De Stip (The Dot project), have left their calling card for the future. The super-dot reveals a distinctive need to tell stories that are understood by the public and appreciated as such. It is not only a matter of leaving a message related to energy consumption or expressing a statement on being environment-minded, but also having a direct interaction with the public at large. The Toyists realise with painting what André Rieu does with classical music. Valuable traditions are both accepted and adjusted in order to make art accessible for everyone. The idea is straightforward: Just Follow the Dots and Big Joy will automatically come to you. Just like André Rieu, the Toyists have the courage to take up a position as pure entertainers. By means of entertainment they (almost casually) amuse the audience with visual art exposing social or psychological subjects. 

TOYISM BEHIND THE MASK - Author: Wim van der Beek

Download our E-Book - Toyism Behind the Mask for free!


The four classical elements of life – Earth, Water, Air and Fire – are featured in this picture of The Dot Project to show the history of energy production. The Dot Project is accomplished through commissioning by the “Living Industry” foundation in cooperation with the municipality of Emmen, the Province of Drenthe, Enexis and Holland Coating. 

The design: The 4 elements of life are represented by 4 themes that form the basis of the design, namely the 4 energy sources. 

1. Solar Energy

2. Wind Power

3. Hydropower

4. Raw Material Energy 

In addition to these four fundamental themes, there is a single, central figure: the tree. The tree is a metaphor for life, energy, growth, development, and change.

There are four sub-designs used. Each sub-design presents the combination or contrast of old and new forms of energy production and their applications (the sciences). 

1. Solar Energy

An old form of the use of solar energy is photosynthesis; the mechanism by which plants and trees grow due to water and carbon dioxide from the air being converted into glucose. A new form is the collection of solar energy with the help of solar panels. An application is the (hybrid) car (economic science), which is charged by electricity that is again generated by solar panels. Houses are also heated by solar energy. As the rays of the sun strike the roof of the farm, energy is collected by the solar panel window. 

2. Wind Power

Old: the traditional windmill, where the power of the wind is converted into mechanical labour, namely for grinding grain. Link the mill with bread, and crumbs are carried by the wind to the modern wind turbines where the kinetic energy of the air is converted into, for example, electricity (new). One of the windmills blows wind into the sail of the boat, while the cabin forms from the roof of the farm. Another windmill in bird form imitates a giraffe affording a panoramic view of new applications for the future. 

3. Hydropower

Old: using paddles to transfer the current of water into rotational energy a watermill, just like the old windmill, has a direct application, namely the grinding of grain or the pressing of oil. New: hydrogen as fuel. Hydrogen fueled cars are much cleaner for the environment. A large dolphin emerges from the water. Drops of water turn into goldfish and salmon. 

4. Raw Material Energy

Old: coal, peat and oil. The prehistoric nodding donkeys obtain fossil fuel from the ground. The elephant stomps the ground while a huge dinosaur emerges in the background. New: bio fuels, nuclear energy. A nuclear power station discharges clouds of smoke that fly through the air like atoms. Biogas as a clean fuel: cars that run on biogas that is extracted from the ‘excrements’ of the piggy bank. Springing from the ancient peat bogs as the lifeblood and central focal point of the design is the red tree, which forms the basis for new and green energy forms. The electrical sockets in the tree deliver green power. 

In addition, in the form of standalone motifs, general applications or containers of energy such as ecobunny lights and battery-insects can be seen moving throughout the whole painting.