2002

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'     "Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'"

  oil on hardboard h61 x w75cm,
  January 2002
 

A drawing by cartoonist Jos Collignon of a motor-cyclist inspired this cartoon-like image. As far as the background is concerned, I used the same technique as with "The Drinker" from February 2001. The piece of hardboard was an old panel that had been waiting for over a year until a subject came along that could be painted over it. The combination of a traditional pattern of a crotchetted table-cloth with a fast driving motor-cyclist seemed alienating and comical at the same time. The freedom-loving motor-cyclist breaking away from what's decent and bourgeois, and causing quite a stir by doing so.
After completion I saw something on TV that I wasn't aware of. I had made a mirror image of the cartoon (so the side-car on the right and not on the left), and this suddenly made it look exactly like the black motor-cycle with side-car of the British Two Fat Ladies who did a cooking programme on BBC television. Looking at this in retrospect it could perhaps be that the cartoon was inspired by the Fat Ladies and that Jos Collignon mirrored it to make the motor-cycle look Dutch. Who knows. And who is the motor-cyclist? Not me, no.


Your Home gets under your Skin     "Your Home gets under your Skin"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  February 2002
 

Every three years the Talens Palet Drawing and Painting Prize Competition is held. This time, the fifth edition, the poem "Souvenir" by Gerrit Komrij (from the "Hutten en Paleizen" collection, 2002) was presented as the source of inspiration (below my translation):

Souvenir

The house in which I lived for so long
Also lives in me. The proud fašade that
Is outlined sharply on the street towers
Above it with the same acuity.

Above that in my head. The long corridors
Full of dusk and half-deadened steps
Slice through brains and house, hung
With chilly cloths and lamp shades

The attic window that trembles violently
When a lorry passes by, looks out
On a deserted park. Over it hovers
The grit of an old party, without a sound.

Some of the 96 contestants in my region put (nearly) all elements of this poem into their paintings, but I felt this was not feasible, fearing a jumble of all sorts of images that would link up with the poem in an anecdotal way but that would not add anything of my own. I decided to concentrate on the first (strong!) line. A house in which you once lived sticks in your memory and becomes part of yourself. No matter how far you walk away from it, the bond remains there. In the painting you see the wallpaper in which or behind which a big face is trapped, together with a number of smaller faces in the bottom right corner (some other ghosts from the past). The old man, top right seen outside through the window, leaves the house with his past in it behind and walks towards a green patch. Does this colour green symbolize hope or the park from the poem? Perhaps both, but it is so vague and weak that it is not worth very much.
And the Talens prize? Five of the 96 contestants were nominated for the national final in Utrecht, but I was not among them. However, in my region a public's prize was awarded by the organization (visitors of the regional exhibition voted for the work they liked best), and I only just missed winning this prize...


What the future may hold     "What the future may hold"

  oil on canvas h59 x w59cm,
  March 2002
 

I had acquired the broad silver frame before I made the painting. A few years back this also happened one time, and that was with "Downpour" (1998). This time I had the idea that silver simply had to be combined with red in the painting. As an image I chose two contrasting faces: one of an old gypsy on a pilgrimage (photograph from the Volkskrant magazine) and one of a stone angel from the gardens of Annevoie (photograph from De Tuin magazine). Red backdrop, faces put in diagonally, the youth up front and looking forward and old age relegated to the shadows and manoeuvred into the background. And what the future holds can be by anyone's guess.


Rhino     "Rhino"

  oil on MDF-board h55 x w58cm,
  April 2002
 

A rhino's head, massive and impressive, but rendered on a modest scale here. Painted without making much of a fuss and without philosophizing. Painted on a heavy, thick MDF-board. No frame necessary as far as I am concerned. Maybe I will do this image again later, but then on a very large and monumental scale.


Entangled Nudes     "Entangled Nudes"

  oil on canvas h104 x w84cm,
  May 2002
 

At the end of last year I already did some work on the female body. In "Nude with Folded Arms" this yielded something sculptural, and in "Nude with Face on Knee" a tranquil and beautiful picture. This time everything is in turmoil. By entangling a number of female figures a dynamic composition emerges. The woman that poses for the picture has not stood still but has moved, and a number of her movements has been captured on canvas.


Bull's Revenge     "Bull's Revenge"

  oil on canvas h94 x w94cm,
  September 2002
 

I had not thought I would ever do a painting on the subject of bullfighting, because I think it is a barbaric and gruesome affair. However, when I saw a photograph in a travel brochure of a statue (location unknown to me) of a bull and a bullfighter, I not only saw the drama of the situation but also the superiority of the bull. The bullfighter triumphantly waves to his public, but look at how dangerously close the bull's horns are behind his back! One moment later the tables may be turned. Who will be the butcher? With the old screen technique I put the image in foreshortened perspective onto the canvas. I first superimposed a grid of squares of 1 by 1 cm on the photograph. Then I copied this grid with enlarged squares of 5 by 5 cm onto the canvas, and I drew the image, carefully comparing the coordinates. Next I sprayed the charcoal with fixative and filled in the picture with cool, calculating blue and inevitable red paint.


Let me think no.1     "Let me think no.1"

  oil on canvas h54 x w54cm,
  October 2002
 

This painting has grown layer upon layer by a series of coincidences. I tried to place faces through, next to and behind each other in various ways. I further developed the bits that I found interesting and painted over the less successful ones. Finally, three faces were left: one big background face (frontal view) without contours, a smaller, half-finished, mask-like face and a third one seen from the side. Not only did I have to think all the time about the composition of the picture, but the thinking mood seems to be reflected in the faces themselves too.


Let me think no.2     "Let me think no.2"

  oil on canvas h54 x w54cm,
  October 2002
 

While working on "Let me think no.1" I also worked on this second version. This, too, is an accumulation of accidentally found colours and forms from which the faces emerge. In this version there are four instead of three faces. The fourth face, turned 90 degrees, is a repetition of the big background face on the left.


Hovering babies     "Hovering babies"

  oil on canvas h64 x w64cm,
  November 2002
 

Throw babies into the water immediately after birth and they spontaneously start swimming. An odd sight. I have not clearly situated the babies in water here, and I have deliberately avoided air bubbles, to suggest that they are hovering in some sort of space looking for a mainstay. The baby in the background seems to feel at ease, but the baby in the foreground is restless, throwing his arms and legs about having nothing to hang on to yet.


Feel the Vibe     "Feel the Vibe"

  oil on canvas h84 x w64cm,
  December 2002
 

With paint that was still left on my palette from the previous painting I quickly daubed the next white canvas. I usually do this to get some colour and texture in the surface layer. Most of the times this method does not produce an image that can be elaborated, but this time it did. Initially, I had both arms of the female figure pointing slightly upwards, but this looked too much like a crucified person, and that was not what I had in mind. I therefore adapted the posture, and by boldly painting dynamic patches and lines I introduced some movement without smothering the image in realism.


Well-worn Shoes     "Well-worn Shoes"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  december 2002
 

Just like with "Bull's Revenge" I made this painting using the old screen technique. A small photograph has been magnified here to reach gigantic proportions. A pair of old shoes magically acquires monumental status. Once again you see you can make a painting of just about anything. The shoes look really well worn and are sure to have a high mileage, but they fit more and more snugly every time they are worn and would love to stroll along with us. If you inspect the paint on this canvas at close quarters, you see a pattern of small squares. This is the result of a painting that is underneath this one and that I consider a failure. For the technical chap who wants to x-ray the painting: it was a rendering of Manet's "Déjeuner sur l'herbe". Apart from this, the under-painting provides the shoes with a rather typical background structure.


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