Chess Move     "Chess Move"

  oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
  January 1999

Nothing even remotely anatomical here. I came across a photograph of chess pieces and immediately felt they would make strong images. I blew them up to gigantic proportions and intuitively placed them over a yellow/orange background that I had made earlier. I expected to paint over them at a slight angle, as I was already doing in "The Theory of Numbers", but I already liked the first arrangement so much that only the left pawn got a turned twin image. I added some playing fields to create at least a bit of order and structure on the left side, but of course it would not prevent the game from ending in turmoil. The king makes a desperate move, but he is only playing for time. It will probably be the knight (top left in chess notation) who will cause his downfall. Not being a chess player myself and therefore being artistically uninhibited has helped rather than hindered the painting from becoming a strong one. It is an artistic move rather than an intellectual move.

The Theory of Numbers     "The Theory of Numbers"

  oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
  January 1999

For a change I wanted to do something more abstract, so I started out with an arrangement of four three-dimensional blocks and another two shapes now in the top left corner. With each new layer of paint I turned the blocks a few degrees, so that you got new geometric constellations. Sometimes I left spaces open where you could see though to the bottom layer and in other places I just painted over the underlying layer. Because of the multitude of colours the painting got a kaleidoscopic effect that was rather too much on the eyes. Therefore I put a white glaze over some parts to soften the tone of the colours. This allows the structures to remain visible but not obtrusive. The mathematical formulas were added for two reasons: firstly, these formulas and mathematics in general are absolutely abstract to a language-oriented person like me, so they heighten the abstract nature of the painting; secondly, constructions are usually calculated and therefore mathematical figures come into play, but if you want to link the formulas with the images in a mathematical way, you will get nowhere. And that is why it is abstract.

Six Gentlemen     "Six Gentlemen"

  oil and mixed technique on four panels of plywood 4x h42 x w32cm,
  February 1999

One and the same bald man with a hat and umbrella is depicted six times in different ways, from a realistic rendition to a prism. I used plywood so that I could put a thin frame on the panels, which was quite necessary as two of the six gentlemen were half in the one and half in the other panel. To create texture in the background I used the stencil-plate again, first used in "The Alphabet Man" (1997) The fourth (green) gentlemen was made with acrylic binder (see "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" 1997).

Sitta Europaea     "Sitta Europaea / Nuthatch"

  oil on plywood h82.5 x w80.5cm,
  February 1999

I had a nearly square piece of plywood so I thought of cutting the surface in two diagonally. The nuthatch was perfect for this, because this bird tends to sit glued to the side of a tree and its body has a fine straight line in it. I used broad brushstrokes to paint the bird and the stencil-plate to create most of the background. Finally, I superimposed its Latin name "sitta" in five small squares along the rim of the painting.

Thighbones and Vertebrae     "Thighbones and Vertebrae"

  oil on two panels of plywood 2x h31.5 x w31.5cm,
  March 1999

Two panels thinly framed to be hung one above the other so that the background continues smoothly. The thighbones (front and back view) are painted in a realistic way, whereas the vertebrae are only drawn in outline. The patches of red (heat) and blue (cold) do not only symbolize pain, but also serve to make the drawn image stand out. As the shape of vertebrae are not well-known, various spectators have just considered it something abstract and some have even mistaken them for human figures (a person with two heads). I do not mind the other interpretations really.

Chubby Nude     "Chubby Nude"

  oil on canvas h90 x w110cm,
  April 1999

This nude was inspired by somebody's elementary ink sketch of not more than 6 x 6cm. I had no live model to be honest so all details had to come out of my head, although I occasionally enjoy provoking people by claiming that my mother-in-law posed for me. I have noticed that this in-your-face display of a fat naked lady has led to quite some covert whispering among visitors of art fairs.

Ghostly Figures     "Ghostly Figures"

  oil and oil pastel sticks on canvas h54 x w74cm,
  May 1999

Another anatomical subject. I started out with the robot-like lying figure bottom left that was not meant to have a real human likeness. Then I drew the right-hand sitting figure over it with oil pastel sticks. His face also suggests that he is not really one of us. I then began to fill in both figures with paint in such a way that they seem inexactricably entwined. You no longer see what parts are in front or behind others. The third figure on the left has been done realistically only in oil pastel sticks and left completely transparent, which is supposed to be typical of a ghost. The composition is too spooky to represent just human forms, and that explains the title.

Gang of Four     "Gang of Four"

  oil on four panels of plywood 4x h42 x w32cm,
  October 1999

I started out with a light-hearted, unassuming picture gallery of dragons and dinosaurs. My children loved this sort of thing and there was a dinosaur craze, so the choice of subject was a very natural one. It slowly dawned on me that this zany and weirdly comical quartet could just as well be a rogue gallery. By superimposing the letters of "Gang of Four" at strategic points I suggested that outward appearance may not necessarily reveal somebody's true nature. After all you can't just tell a criminal by looking at his face. However, in the case of the bottom-right character I would be on my guard anyway. What a creep!

Hats in Blue Minor     "Hats in Blue Minor"

  oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
  November 1999

Basically this is a monochrome, repetitive rendition of just an old hat. In a photograph taken around the 1930s there was a man in a crowd wearing this hat. Normally you wouldn't even have seen the man, let alone the hat, but somehow I thought it could be used for a painting. After all, you can use really anything for a painting. If you compare this painting with all my other ones, you will find that I have refrained from using a broad palette of colours for a change to see how that works. By using only shades of one colour you get a very calm picture. Why blue/greenish colours? They are my favourite colours. To add some personal touch here too I have used my good old stencil-plate with letters once again.

A Fragile Network     "A Fragile Network"

  oil on canvas h74 x w54cm,
  November 1999

Three young ladies, apparently Russian because of the Cyrillic letters "cafe" in the background, are chatting. Their faces are blank (rather uncommon for me) and they are frozen in time. Their network holds for the moment, but what will happen next is uncertain. Of course all young people have to find their own way in the world, and the future cannot be known in advance, but you can guess that old friendships may well fade after time. This snapshot deliberately resembles a stained-glass window, in which usually religious images are shown rather than smoking young ladies in a bar. Again the use of colours is quite restricted, just as in "Hats in Blue Minor", but don't worry, I'm not going into a blue period.

Prague 1899     "Prague 1899"

  oil on canvas h124 x w124cm,
  December 1999

This is the largest canvas I have made so far and I can only just get it into the car. This gloomy scene has a monumental quality and forces the spectator to reflect on what life can be like for some people. The organ-grinder and the singer were photographed in Prague in 1899 (hence the title) and I took the photograph as my source of inspiration. The persons look different in my painting, especially the singer, but what matters is that there is this sense of being down and out, probably forever. Although there are in fact quite some colours in this painting, they have all been muted to convey a sense of despondency. Any bright colours would have spoiled this picture.

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