| "Chess Move"
oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
Nothing even remotely anatomical here. I came across a photograph of chess
pieces and immediately felt they would make strong images. I blew them up
to gigantic proportions and intuitively placed them over a yellow/orange
background that I had made earlier. I expected to paint over them at a
slight angle, as I was already doing in
"The Theory of Numbers",
but I already liked the first arrangement so much that only the left pawn
got a turned twin image. I added some playing fields to create at least a
bit of order and structure on the left side, but of course it would not
prevent the game from ending in turmoil. The king makes a desperate move,
but he is only playing for time. It will probably be the knight (top left
in chess notation) who will cause his downfall. Not being a chess player
myself and therefore being artistically uninhibited has helped rather than
hindered the painting from becoming a strong one. It is an artistic move
rather than an intellectual move.
| "The Theory of Numbers"
oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
For a change I wanted to do something more abstract, so I started out with
an arrangement of four three-dimensional blocks and another two shapes now
in the top left corner. With each new layer of paint I turned the blocks a
few degrees, so that you got new geometric constellations. Sometimes I left
spaces open where you could see though to the bottom layer and in other
places I just painted over the underlying layer. Because of the multitude
of colours the painting got a kaleidoscopic effect that was rather too much
on the eyes. Therefore I put a white glaze over some parts to soften the
tone of the colours. This allows the structures to remain visible but not
obtrusive. The mathematical formulas were added for two reasons: firstly,
these formulas and mathematics in general are absolutely abstract to a
language-oriented person like me, so they heighten the abstract nature of
the painting; secondly, constructions are usually calculated and therefore
mathematical figures come into play, but if you want to link the formulas
with the images in a mathematical way, you will get nowhere. And that is
why it is abstract.
| "Six Gentlemen"
oil and mixed technique on four panels of plywood 4x h42 x w32cm,
One and the same bald man with a hat and umbrella is depicted six times in
different ways, from a realistic rendition to a prism. I used plywood so
that I could put a thin frame on the panels, which was quite necessary as
two of the six gentlemen were half in the one and half in the other panel.
To create texture in the background I used the stencil-plate again, first
"The Alphabet Man" (1997)
The fourth (green) gentlemen was made with acrylic binder (see
"Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" 1997).
| "Sitta Europaea / Nuthatch"
oil on plywood h82.5 x w80.5cm,
I had a nearly square piece of plywood so I thought of cutting the surface
in two diagonally. The nuthatch was perfect for this, because this bird
tends to sit glued to the side of a tree and its body has a fine straight
line in it. I used broad brushstrokes to paint the bird and the
stencil-plate to create most of the background. Finally, I superimposed its
Latin name "sitta" in five small squares along the rim of the painting.
| "Thighbones and Vertebrae"
oil on two panels of plywood 2x h31.5 x w31.5cm,
Two panels thinly framed to be hung one above the other so that the
background continues smoothly. The thighbones (front and back view) are
painted in a realistic way, whereas the vertebrae are only drawn in
outline. The patches of red (heat) and blue (cold) do not only symbolize
pain, but also serve to make the drawn image stand out. As the shape of
vertebrae are not well-known, various spectators have just considered it
something abstract and some have even mistaken them for human figures (a
person with two heads). I do not mind the other interpretations really.
| "Chubby Nude"
oil on canvas h90 x w110cm,
This nude was inspired by somebody's elementary ink sketch of not more than
6 x 6cm. I had no live model to be honest so all details had to come out of
my head, although I occasionally enjoy provoking people by claiming that my
mother-in-law posed for me. I have noticed that this in-your-face display
of a fat naked lady has led to quite some covert whispering among visitors
of art fairs.
| "Ghostly Figures"
oil and oil pastel sticks on canvas h54 x w74cm,
Another anatomical subject. I started out with the robot-like lying figure
bottom left that was not meant to have a real human likeness. Then I drew
the right-hand sitting figure over it with oil pastel sticks. His face also
suggests that he is not really one of us. I then began to fill in both
figures with paint in such a way that they seem inexactricably entwined.
You no longer see what parts are in front or behind others. The third
figure on the left has been done realistically only in oil pastel sticks
and left completely transparent, which is supposed to be typical of a
ghost. The composition is too spooky to represent just human forms, and
that explains the title.
| "Gang of Four"
oil on four panels of plywood 4x h42 x w32cm,
I started out with a light-hearted, unassuming picture gallery of dragons
and dinosaurs. My children loved this sort of thing and there was a
dinosaur craze, so the choice of subject was a very natural one. It slowly
dawned on me that this zany and weirdly comical quartet could just as well
be a rogue gallery. By superimposing the letters of "Gang of Four" at
strategic points I suggested that outward appearance may not necessarily
reveal somebody's true nature. After all you can't just tell a criminal by
looking at his face. However, in the case of the bottom-right character I
would be on my guard anyway. What a creep!
| "Hats in Blue Minor"
oil on canvas h64 x w84cm,
Basically this is a monochrome, repetitive rendition of just an old hat. In
a photograph taken around the 1930s there was a man in a crowd wearing this
hat. Normally you wouldn't even have seen the man, let alone the hat, but
somehow I thought it could be used for a painting. After all, you can use
really anything for a painting. If you compare this painting with all my
other ones, you will find that I have refrained from using a broad palette
of colours for a change to see how that works. By using only shades of one
colour you get a very calm picture. Why blue/greenish colours? They are my
favourite colours. To add some personal touch here too I have used my good
old stencil-plate with letters once again.
| "A Fragile Network"
oil on canvas h74 x w54cm,
Three young ladies, apparently Russian because of the Cyrillic letters
"cafe" in the background, are chatting. Their faces are blank (rather
uncommon for me) and they are frozen in time. Their network holds for the
moment, but what will happen next is uncertain. Of course all young people
have to find their own way in the world, and the future cannot be known in
advance, but you can guess that old friendships may well fade after time.
This snapshot deliberately resembles a stained-glass window, in which
usually religious images are shown rather than smoking young ladies in a
bar. Again the use of colours is quite restricted, just as in
"Hats in Blue Minor", but don't worry,
I'm not going into a blue period.
| "Prague 1899"
oil on canvas h124 x w124cm,
This is the largest canvas I have made so far and I can only just get it into the car. This gloomy scene has a monumental quality and forces the spectator to reflect on what life can be like for some people. The organ-grinder and the singer were photographed in Prague in 1899 (hence the title) and I took the photograph as my source of inspiration. The persons look different in my painting, especially the singer, but what matters is that there is this sense of being down and out, probably forever. Although there are in fact quite some colours in this painting, they have all been muted to convey a sense of despondency. Any bright colours would have spoiled this picture.
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