We're onto somehting, Curly!     "We're onto something here, Curly!"

  oil on canvas h66 x w81cm,
  January 2009

In the Moroccan-Norwegian film Casanegra, which paints a pitch-black picture of the city of Casablanca and is in fact a social outcry, two weird-looking characters appear that I thought were interesting for use in a painting. I have turned them into something absurd out of my own imagination. The viewer may decide what these two bald men are searching for with the antennas on their headphones. This also goes for the answer to the question whether the things they are looking for only exist in their own fantasy.

Floating above the earth     "Floating above the earth"

  oil on canvas h84 x w104cm,
  February 2009

A trip in a hot-air balloon seems a great experience to me, so that is on my wish list. What an airy feeling it must be to hover gently on the updraft and watch the earth slowly glide past way down below. It must be a calm, free and uplifting feeling, without it becoming fuzzy. This painting holds that feeling, but only partly. The right-hand side is dominated by a priest, who I modelled on a statue that I came across in Santiago de Cuba, a place for pilgrims on eastern Cuba. I did not want to paint him as a free or lofty person, because I do not believe in free and sublime clergymen. Human frailty is part of their nature too, and I do not see how they can be 'free'. When I started painting his face in rough strokes, I was amazed that I had immediately and unintentionally caught a more than fitting expression. Would Francis Bacon also allow his famous grimaces to appear by accident? My priest's wry face is rather disturbing. In search of the sublime he seems to have become trapped and twisted.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 1     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 1"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  March 2009

For a very long time a bunch of small canvases just sat in a corner. They were given to me, but I did not know what to do with them, because I preferred to work on larger canvases. However, one day when I was looking at faces in some previous paintings, I realised that I could just as well paint just portraits, all of different people with different expressions. This is when I began to search for pictures and drawings of all sorts of people. The first experiment, this 'no. 1', is based on a photograph of a baby by Lynn Adler of the San Francisco collective Optic Nerve. If this first attempt succeeded, I would make a series, and if not, I would have to think of something else or dump the small canvases. Initially it went wrong when I went for photorealism as a good boy, but it got a magnificent twist when I put some wild strokes across the picture: the image became vulnerable and came to life. It was clear now: the approach with wild strokes would be set for the whole series.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 2     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 2"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  April 2009

After the baby an old man follows, from a comic strip called Prosopopus by Nicolas de Crécy. Since I left photorealism behind in the series, I could more freely suggest facial expressions and I could easily use drawings from comic strips.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 3     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 3"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  May 2009

In 2005 the Beelden aan Zee museum in Scheveningen ran the 'Xianfeng' exhibition of sculptural art of the Chinese avant-garde. One group of sculptures in this exhibition was by artist Liang Shuo (1976). I have used and processed the face of a young man in the group.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 4     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 4"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  June 2009

Television makers Kees van Kooten en Wim de Bie created countless immortal characters in their weekly television programmes in the 1970s-1980s. Among them were mother Carla and son Frank van Putten ('I do not want a mille-feuille. I want to rub a naked girlfriend with whipped cream... But I have no girlfriend. I have been treated for this'). The photoalbum Ons kent Ons by their set photographer Roel Bazen contains brilliant pictures of many of their characters. I have used the picture of Frank van Putten for no.4.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 5     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 5"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  September 2009

No. 5 is based on a photograph of a young girl, made by Ede Rothaus from Long Beach, NY, USA. The light is so irresistible on her face that I could not help myself...

It Takes all Sorts, no. 6     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 6"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  October 2009

A photograph of my younger son Tei, at the age of seven, inspired this portrait. In the photograph the blinds made sharp shadowy lines across his cheek, and this would require precision painting. However, having opted for the wild-strokes approach in this series, I had to abandon the shadowy lines.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 7     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 7"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  November 2009

The same man from the comic strip Prosopopus by Nicolas de Crécy, seen before in no. 2, returns here. No. 2 a man with a slightly despairing look had turned out well, so I fancied having another go at him, now with a more alarmed look.

It Takes all Sorts, no. 8     "It Takes all Sorts, no. 8"

  oil on canvas h30 x w30cm,
  December 2009

We have arrived at the eighth portrait, based on a photograph of my elder son Luc when he was three years old. I had eight small canvases in all to go, so this picture completes the series that received the umbrella title 'It Takes all Sorts' along the way. All in all it has become a fine and colourful mixed bag, that tastes morish. Looking back on the choice of subjects I now notice that I have done the female population and other races an injustice. Where are the women and where is the multiculturalism? I am bound to rectify this some time in the future with another series.

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