The Missing Face     "The Missing Face"

  oil and mixed technique on canvas h103 x w83cm,
  January 1998

While "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" shows an anatomical study of a hand, this painting shows faces, and it will not be the last painting of faces. I started with a completely green canvas and the big face to the left, now lying on top, because I turned the canvas in the meantime. This big face is after a photograph of pope John Paul. Then I drew a face in charcoal and only filled it up half with paint. Both faces are therefore only partly present. The third face in the bottom left corner was painted "out of" the background by just highlighting certain elements. The fourth face (that of H.G. Wells) is pasted onto the painting by means of acrylic binder. The fifth face is absent, though there is a violet frame for it. Whoever it may have been, he simply has not turned up. The yellow blocks or crosses may indicate an early departure for the fifth of the old men. The only thing we know for certain is that the first one to pass on in 1946 was H.G. Wells, here still trapped alive in a photograph and living on in his literary and academic works.

Jigsaw Head     "Jigsaw Head"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  February 1998

More faces still, because they are an infinite source of inspiration. All but one are part of the background and some barely visible at first glance. Making this work in itself was interesting enough as an exercise, but to make the paintings really come alive I aimed at producing a photo-realistic head too. On top of that I made a jigsaw puzzle of the head so that it could "explode" and the pieces be scattered over the surface of the canvas. I made a draft on paper, made a division between the pieces that were in place and out of place and then copied it faithfully onto the canvas. To add depth I also added shadow to all fragments. The approach of the subject matter has some overtones of Salvador Dali in it.

Rowing the Boat     "Rowing the Boat"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  March 1998

In a book on Salvador Dali I saw a painting of the family with a person in a rowing boat in the background. I found this a strong image worth using. I had started putting layers of paint onto the canvas in abstract, rather haphazard fashion, not knowing yet what would come next. I also used grey paint from a pot from a DIY shop to get a contrasting smooth surface. It clashed perfectly with the rough yellow, grey and blue areas, and of course with the rough painting of the man in the boat. The element of alienation in this painting comes from the "frustrated" drawing to the right. A frustrated drawing is one that you make looking at the object to be drawn and not once at your paper. When you look at the result afterwards, you will find that the lines you drew went in all sorts of directions other than you had intended or imagined. This yields extremely interesting pictures. I took one such doodle and worked it into the picture, half into the background and half into the foreground, thus playing with perspective.

Et Tu Brute     "Et Tu Brute?"

  oil (and acrylic letters) on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  April 1998

I wielded a madman's brush here, placing a "frustrated" drawing (see "Rowing the Boat") over patches of colour. The blue patches to the left are again DIY paint. The letters have been done in acrylic paint to save (drying) time. "Et tu Brute?" (you too Brutus?) are the last words of Caesar before being stabbed to death. Somehow it seemed appropriate to me that this subject should get brutal brushstrokes only.

Green Greek Alphabet Head     "Green Greek Alphabet Head"

  oil on canvas board h62 x w52cm,
  May 1998

In the summer of 1981 I made an oil painting of a green head against an orange backdrop with the Greek text of the beginning of Homer's Odyssey. In the bottom right corner I did my name in Greek letters, which is still there. The execution was not very good, but I rather liked the idea. I decided to do the head again and change a few things, leaving the Greek text intact. I also superimposed four giant Greek letters. This painting is dominated most by letters, and strange ones at that. There will be Cyrillic letters later on, but for the time being this is quite enough, thank you very much. Mind you, it awakens curiosity among children and teenagers.

Frog     "Frog"

  oil on two panelsof waterproof ceiling board 2x h42 x w31cm,
  May 1998

A very peculiar animal painting. The undercoat consists of greenish DIY paint, sprayed with black in patches and sprinkled with white spirit to give a water bubbles effect. This was left to dry simultaneously to see what the result would be. I thought it would be appropriate to take an amphibian as a subject, and furthermore to slash him in two over both panels. This would allow me to do two different approaches: one photo-realistic (the rear end for a change) and the other a silhouette. The contrast is startling. The picture is only held together by its outline, by its green background and by the two rectangles on either side, although they are painted in complementary colours.

The Silence of the Hams     "The Silence of the Hams"

  oil on hardboard h63 x w60cm,
  June 1998

This still life of meat was painted over a (poor) copy of Rembrandt's famous "Men of Emmaus". I put gesso over the copy except for three heads. These heads now appear in my painting as marks of origin or approval of meat. I first painted over everything including the frame with wild brush strokes. The meat is after a photograph in an Albert Heijn advertisement, done in a photo-realistic way. Rather than paint a rail for the meat hooks to hang from, I used the frame which was already part of the painting anyway. In this way I could suspend the picture from its own frame. I don't think anybody has done something weird like this before. The title is obviously a pun on "The Silence of the Lambs", Thomas Harris' horror novel on a serial killer. You can argue that we humans are all serial killers (of cows, pigs, chickens, etc.), except perhaps for vegetarians. But you do not hear much about that, not from the hams anyway.

The Keys     "The Keys"

  oil on plywood h40 x w59cm,
  October 1998

It was probably a photograph of workers on strike behind a gate in Gdansk that triggered this painting. I have now lost the photograph, so I cannot check it anymore. The keys are of my own garage (left) and my front door (middle) and the one on the right is one with an interesting shape that I chanced upon. All elements contribute to the theme of (lack of) freedom, being locked in or out, impediments, finding a way out where there is a barrier, etc. The keys to the problem are in sight but not within reach. One person is reading something and two other cling to what appear the bars of a fence. We await the next move.

Downpour     "Downpour"

  oil on plywood h59 x w76cm,
  November 1998
It was the frame that led to the creation of this painting. It was a very old, orphaned frame found in a Nijmegen monastery. It looked to me like a window frame, so I turned it into a scene though a window. The umbrellas and raincoats of the two people outside are hardly visible due to the ghastly weather. I made the raindrops on the window-panes by sprinkling first white and then black drops of water onto the oil painting. I divided the window up into four parts with sharp tectonic lines to contrast with the blurry image of the outside world.

Bottled     "Bottled"

  oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
  November 1998

A slight resemblance of form between bottles and shoulders inspired this picture. It is a dream-like picture, in which you are not sure whether you see something correctly or not. Is it a bottle or is it a man, or perhaps both? Do I see bands and gown there on the left? And who is that man in the middle with the Mona Lisa smile? He may be the bartender you saw last, or perhaps the policeman who locked you up to get sober again.

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