| "Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'"
oil on hardboard h61 x w75cm,
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"
oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
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):
SouvenirSome 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.
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.
| "What the future may hold"
oil on canvas h59 x w59cm,
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.
oil on MDF-board h55 x w58cm,
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"
oil on canvas h104 x w84cm,
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"
oil on canvas h94 x w94cm,
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
| "Let me think no.1"
oil on canvas h54 x w54cm,
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"
oil on canvas h54 x w54cm,
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"
oil on canvas h64 x w64cm,
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"
oil on canvas h84 x w64cm,
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
| "Well-worn Shoes"
oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
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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