oil on multiply board h70 x w90cm,
At last here is another dynamic painting again, though the boy on the skate board hangs in freeze-frame in the air. In a magazine I saw a cartoon of a skate boarder on which I based my own drawing. I first thought of having an urban back-drop with concrete steps and walls, but soon I decided to have an undefined background with dramatic lighting from below. The boy is lit by artificial light from the ground, hovering over a skate track that is invisible to the viewer. And in the distance a faint light on the horizon gives the night sky an unreal colour.
| "The Stairs to the Doors"
oil on canvas, h93 x w73cm,
We see a monumental staircase leading up to monumental doors. A soaked man wearily drags himself up the stairs, burdened with some sort of brief-case. Who is he and what is in the brief-case? It is up to the viewer to decide and reconsider, but here are a few suggestions of the contents of the brief-case. Papers from work? In this case probably an office worker arriving home after a tiring day. Or books? A Jehova's witness calling on yet another door? Or bills and a subpoena? Good Lord, can it be a bailiff then? Or is his soul in the brief-case? Is it somebody approaching the door to heaven? It does not look like that, but then again: who knows what this looks like? And who knows what light will fall on this man?
| "Private Detective"
oil on canvas, h83 x w103cm,
Chicago 1928 and the story is this: after a night's stake-out and crime hunt Harry 'Trigger' Mason' reports back to his boss that his mission has been in vain. The tip turned out to be false and the barrels of hard liquor, still illegal under the Prohibition amendment, were nowhere to be found. The people arrested knew nothing and had to be released. In the meantime the gang had obviously had plenty of time to continue their illegal liquor trade somewhere else. Disbelieving his ears, detective Sam ‘The Nose’ Golding groans heavily at the thought of just having failed to cash a big premium.
In old film noirs you often see them: private detectives investigating shady affairs for private individuals and hunting for bounty. When thinking about their hush-hush dealings I imagine that in a shabby old back office the investigative approach is discussed and helpers are mobilized to shadow people. Judging from this helper's posture he has not been of much help. First a groan and then a good talk and further instructions. That seems necessary.
| "Where could that file be, Deirdre?"
oil on canvas, h64 x w84cm,
In Maastricht there was an exhibition of magnificent photographs made by Jan Banning of civil servants in various parts of the world. Every picture told a long story: of pomposity and officialdom on the one hand and of shabbiness and lack of means on the other hand. On the poster of the exhibition there was a female civil servant in India with piles of old papers on top of the filing cabinets behind her. These papers, in various stages of decay, led to this painting. I incorporated a weedy man rummaging through papers and a chubby lady (Deirdre) turning round compassionately expecting the search for a lost document to be fruitless.
oil on canvas, h63 x w83cm,
Playing a role and keeping up appearances is part of life, but when the masquerade leads to personalities disappearing and leaving just the mask they wear, we are truly lost. The person behind the mask is cloaked in riddles and vapours, as we only see an insignificant outline. Whether the rat mask is a tell-tale sign of the misty person remains a mystery and is up to the beholder. However, it is a fact that the truth is often masked and that people often hide behind disguises, voluntarily or involuntarily.
I cut out a paper mask and had my wife hold it in various positions. I took a number of photographs and selected the best postures. Technically speaking, it has yielded the best hands I have painted so far.
| "The Creation of Life, but not as we Know it"
oil on canvas, h83 x w103cm,
The painting was inspired by a graffiti drawing called 'Starcatcher' by Andy Howell. In it there is among other things a weird, wiry man that I have used on a search for a strange construction of limbs. I have ended up with two odd, old men echoing in their gestures Michelangelo’s 'Creation of Adam' (Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, circa 1511). What is created here, however, cannot be life as we know it. What it is then, I really do not know. Further food for thought: creating something with left hands only can to my mind only produce a clumsy, sinister result, or am I wrong?
The title refers to the tv-series Startrek, in which Mr Spock is heard saying to Captain Kirk that what they have encountered may well be life 'but not as we know it'.
| "Captain Sensible"
oil on canvas, h73 x w103cm,
This image was inspired by a photoshopped picture by Esther Dijkstra. A man sitting in a lifebuoy: the image can lead to various ideas, such as being adrift, having been put overboard, floating on coincidental currents, being lonely, waiting for something or somebody, etc. For one reason or another I felt the need to give this man the rank of captain, without the uniform and authority to go with it. The attribute 'sensible' came almost logically to me from a pop artist who was a one-hit wonder in the 1980s ('What') and who called himself Captain Sensible. A marvelously alienating name in this absurd setting. My captain sensible, who is obviously out of control, looks at something outside the picture that may save or relieve him, for saving himself without oars is not really what he is thinking of. And if you are wondering what the point of all this is: as far as I am concerned it is pointless.
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