"Above all things, Wil van der Laan is a wanderer in search of contrasts. Equipped with an unquenchable thirst for opposites with his own environment, he is roaming the world in search of uncommon encounters. A passion which is not satisfied until he hears the blues in a juke joint somewere along the Mississippi river; a passion that is changed into a rapture when he sees an Indian dressed in a western outfit and hanging around near a well-worn filling station in Arizona.
A similar thrill seizes him when he sees a member of the Massai-tribe in the African countryside. Wil van der Laan paints his scenes, often discovered in far-off places, so convincingly that you feel part of them. And they are so real because of his perfecteye for detail, color and shape. Take for instance his overwhelming representation of the Mali people. In particular female faces, wich look up in surprise by the unexpected attention to their beauty. Or look at the pair of cheetahs, caught in the African heat. Especially his warm and distinct colours create a relaxing coolness. His sculpture too, whether you touch a bronze bizon or you look up at three racing cyclists rushing up to the finish line, they radiate tension, speed and confidence.
His other drive for moments full of drama and exploding tension is given free reign in sport in which strength and elegance interchange. These very free encounters in the deep south of the USA, in the arid countryside of Africa and at the finish of a bicycle race, incite him to an equally dynamic and joyful imagination on canvas and in bronze. Once back in his studio these spontaneously caught impressions are expressed with a soul of absolute beauty. What is so fascinating, is his constant ability to establish the intensive experiences in overwhelming scenes. The secret of his strikingly versatile imaginative power is his intuition to open up entirely to the details of real life during all his wanderings. Wether Negro musicians in Memphis or woman on their way to the market somewhere in Mali are concerned, again and again he is fascinated by their intrinsic uniqueness. And this is the reason why Wil van der Laan manages to send the Touaregs with their camels into your direction? Or, perhaps, why the cheetas watch you every movement from the corner of their eyes? Or why you hear the trombonist excel in the middle of Jackson Square, which is the rhythmic heartbeat of New Orleans?
The magic of Wil van der Laans oeuvre is the portrayal of his perception and his perception and interpretation of his visual recollection of seeking contrasts."
- Hans Toonen