Self-portrait no.1 Self-portrait no.2     "Self-portrait no.1", "Self-portrait no.2"

  both oil on MDF board h57.5 x b77.5cm,
  January 2000

So many artists have made self-portraits, so why not me too? I chose to do two portraits: the basic idea was to do a blue head over a yellow background and a yellow head over a blue background. I decided to do a few things I had done before and try a bit more. I chose for the vertical drapes (see "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" 1997), for the background, and I also applied masking tape at random when painting my own face, so that the background would be revealed though my face once the masking tape was pealed off again. Before I painted my face, I made a broad frame for the MDF board, so that I could paint part of the frame too. I did various "frustrated" drawings (see "Et Tu Brute?" 1998) of my face and copied them onto the rough patches of paint already there. In "Silence of the Hams" (1998) the complete frame belongs to the picture, but here it is only me spilling over the frame. Yes, apparently I'm too big for my frame.

Long Lost but Invaluable     "Long Lost but Invaluable"

  oil on canvas h74 x w89cm,
  February 2000

An endearing teddy bear symbolizing the inevitable loss of youth and the passing of time in general. Old and tattered teddy bears nowadays fetch high prices at auctions, but it is their emotional value that make them invaluable. The factor time is represented by the figures 12 (l) and 6 of a clock, a progression of dashes (as seconds ticking away) and a sun dial.

Bickering Almonds     "Bickering Almonds"

  oil on canvas h54 x w64cm,
  February 2000

I was doodling with charcoal using almond shapes, when I suddenly discovered two heads in the drawing I had just made. As with frustrated drawings, sometimes there is chemistry and sometimes there is nothing but rubbish. You cannot force things to happen. I simply turned the charcoal drawing into an oil painting experimenting with the complementary colours yellow and purple/violet.

The Court Fools Have Had Their Day     "The Court Fools Have Had Their Day"

  oil on hardboard h66 x w81cm,
  March 2000

Two fool's caps and bells tell the story of court fools in medieval Britain. Jesters were common at the British court (and with the nobility) from the 11th century (mc) until the 17th century (mdcc). The first was Rahère to Henry I (1100-1135) and the last was Muckle John to Charles I (1625-1649). Rahère is pictured on the left in yellow with a birth symbol, and the last court fool is represented on the right in violet with a death symbol. The painting goes from left to right, from the bright and sunshiny period to the dark period of downfall and termination.

Floor Plans with High Hats     "Floor Plans with High Hats"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  March 2000

An architectural subject. The rectangular forms could be floor plans for houses, with the small squares in two corners representing paving. At the same time they could be a line of six faces all with red top hats. In all building projects it is always the high and mighty gentlemen who pull the strings. Having their eyes closed they seem to be unaware of each other and of anything that is going on, but as they are rubbing shoulders all the time and they are deeply involved, this portrayal is deceptive.

Still Life (male)     "Still Life (male)"

  oil on canvas on hardboard (front panel) h40 x w30cm and on MDF board (back panel) h45.5 x w36cm,
  April 2000

I glued a piece of left-over canvas onto hardboard and roughly painted an old man on it whose life lay behind rather than ahead of him. The atmosphere is one of stillness and contemplation. I glued four laths on the back and behind that an MDF board as a passe-partout. However, rather than painting the passe-partout in one neutral colour I decided to paint figures on them from the main character's past life. In this way his life would be behind him in a literal sense too.

Still Life (female)     "Still Life (female)"

  oil on canvas on hardboard (front panel) h46.5 x w30cm and on MDF board (back panel) h52.5 x w36cm,
  April 2000

Where there is a man whose life has become stilled, there must be a woman too, and this is the one. You may notice that the figures from her past painted on the back panel include mostly men and three very young children, whereas the man's figures include more ladies and no children at all. Makes you wonder.

Strike in Freeze-frame     "Strike in Freeze-frame"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  May 2000

The cheerful colours of the background suit the subject of success in the game very well. It is a moment of a game of Canadian five-pin bowling, repeated (the R) for the television viewer and frozen in time. The arrows show the impact and direction of the ball. The colourful image is vaguely reminiscent of "Chess Move" (1999), but here the background shows though the pins, and furthermore the bowler hopes that the pins will tumble whereas the chess player tries hard to prevent his pieces from doing just that.

Three Lesser Goddesses     "Three Lesser Goddesses"

  oil on hardboard h58 x w76.5cm,
  June 2000

In a charcoal doodle with organic lines and round and elliptic forms I emphasized some forms and wiped out others to arrive at three female forms in the end. Transferred in oil onto hardboard I tried various colour schemes and found a blue and green background again most soothing. Once again I painted the background over the frame to stress the organic nature of it all. Perhaps in hindsight I should have chosen thick MDF that I could do fretwork on in wavy lines afterwards in order to avoid being stuck with a square painting. The goddesses could be pagan deities of the woods or waters, or you could think of sirens luring mesmerized sailors. Why "lesser"? Because they are not exactly classical beauties and therefore hardly top class. Still the divine association is more to my liking than, let's say, the association with a game of tennis in a nudist camp.

Nobby the Bouncer     "Nobby the Bouncer"

  oil on paper h36 x w32cm,
  September 2000

The paper is split into two by the outline of the face of a bouncer. The rough and turbulent brushstrokes in the menacing face contrast violently with the tranquil green background. The head suggests "don't mess with me", but the expression on the face is also a bit moody as if something sad has just happened.

Beagle     "Beagle"

  oil on canvas h54 x w74cm,
  October 2000

Nine dogs all pointing in the right direction. I made a drawing of a dog's head (from a photograph of a pointer actually) on paper and cut it to use both the head and its outline as models with which I could paint heads on the canvas. I used a bigger cut-out model first, little of which you can now trace in the background. On top of this I sketched the outline of a beagle and partly filled it in.

Gone beyond the Horizon     "Gone beyond the Horizon"

  oil on MDF board h67.5 x w61cm,
  October 2000

The keyword is Alzheimer's disease. A person gets confused and assumes a different personality than the one he has always been. For the outside world he slowly "fades away" due to his diminishing mental powers, so that he is no longer approachable in the end. His memory becomes filled with blanks, but sometimes he has lucid moments during which we can temporarily see how he used to be. Still, at one point only a shadow is left and we have lost all contact. I made the "see-through holes" near the bottom with masking tape. I painted over it and by pealing the tape off I revealed the layer underneath.

What Once Was, no.1     "What Once Was, no.1"

  oil on canvas h53.5 x w53.5cm,
  October 2000

Another elaboration on the theme of Alzheimer's disease, but now a face made up of raw patches and strokes of colour and an inimitable black line superimposed on it. I have used this combination of techniques before, in "Et Tu Brute" and in "Self portrait no.1 / no.2", to create a painterly solution to a subject. This solution is extra appropriate now, and that is why I have experimented with it in two paintings (though I could have done many more). Because of the vague patches the face is hardly recognizable anymore, and the black line has such an alienating effect that the personality still remains equally unrecognizable too.

What Once Was, no.2     "What Once Was, no.2"

  oil on canvas h53.5 x w53cm,
  October 2000

Part two of the diptych "What Once Was" about Alzheimer. This face looks different and yet somehow the same. The original person was a different one, but the disease has marked him in the same way. The black line still gives a fairly sharp and not very distorted image of the person's features, and it therefore suggests that the person is not so far gone yet.

Getting a Hold on Something Slippery     "Getting a Hold on Something Slippery"

  oil on MDF board h61 x w61cm,
  November 2000

Holding a fish is difficult, but painting hands is even more difficult. If you don't watch out, things go wrong. Oh dear! The fish also seems to be apprehensive about the outcome.

Older     "Older"

  oil on canvas h48.5 x w73.5cm,
  November 2000

A third variation on the Alzheimer theme. After the perspective approach in "Gone Beyond the Horizon" and the line approach in "What Once Was" now a simple partitioning of areas with a light background and a dark foreground. The old man with the crooked back contrasts in a dark and gloomy way with the fairly fresh-looking background. He does not seem to have any connection with his surroundings.

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