Bob’s Bird Barn

For about a century this building in the center of Maitland, was home to the Carrington Hotel, which closed down in the 1980’s.

Then came a pet store named Bob’s Bird Barn. But the last few decades the building is empty and neglected by the owner. To prevent more deterioration, the Council closed the windows and doors with black boards.

The building was an eyesore for the whole community and ‘someone’ began to think how to give the building a facelift.

The decision was to bring back the birds. The way to do this was to paint birds on new boards and stick them onto the old black boards of the building. Done at night, with a 11 meter high ladder.

Artastique

Recently we have organised an art event called Artastique.
The idea was: for 10 days in March 2019, businesses will team up with artists to display artworks in shop windows of Maitland’s High Street, for the public to view and enjoy.
The vision for this community initiative is of an event that puts the visual arts on the map for Maitland while promoting local business.
The inspiration for this idea is a similar event held in the Dutch town Bergen. Bergen has 29.000 citizens (Maitland has more than double) and this art event is now organised for the 25th year. In the year 2018 about 260 artists exhibited in 160 locations and this brought about 40.000 visitors to Bergen.
While we aimed for a bit of a low-key start with a very limited budget, just to test the waters, Artastique turned out as a big success with already 46 shops and 42 artists for this first year. The participating shops and artists were all very enthusiastic, so I dare to say: next year we will go for over 50 shop windows!

Artastique’s website

Mural

In September the Maitland council did a call out to artists to come up with a idea for a 18 x 9 meter wall. Frank sent them a design based on one of my paintings, photoshopped on the wall. The council chose us to create it.
We asked another artists (Andrew Bennett) to help us and it took us about 2 weeks to finish it. It was all old-fashioned brushwork (no airbrush).

Bendigo Art Award

What a surprise when I got called on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
“You’ve won the first prize.”
“WHAT???”
“You have won the first prize!”

Earlier I had entered The Waller Art Prize. An inaugural &prize exhibition, first held in October 2018 at Trades Hall in Bendigo. The Prize was initiated by in honour of Bendigo Artist & BendArts founder Hugh Waller (1959 – 2017). The opening of the Waller is 20th October, 6pm

I already was happy I had made it to finalist and could have hang my painting in the Trades Hall for a couple of weeks. I absolutely had not expected to win anything. Having my name out there had been my goal.
It is such a great honour to be chosen out of all the other professional artists with their amazing works! THANKS BENDIGO XXXXX

https://youtu.be/YtyHDi0GdbY

Icons of our collective memory (no signal)

Acrylic on 300 canvases
100 x 75 cm.

Our collective memory contains thousands of faces, names, brands, objects, scandals, disasters and victories. You often only need a small clue to understand what is meant. Two musical notes heard … and you can sing along to the song. Just some initials could be enough for certain celebs or brands. A low resolute image of a security camera can direct you to the criminal. Or to the hero.
No detailed image is needed to recognise the tv test card. Although you probably need to be born before 1980

 

Icons of our collective memory (Walter White)

As an immigrant I got intrigued by the phenomenon ‘collective memory’.
A while after moving from the Netherlands to New Zealand
I realised that a large piece of my personality was built on the history I shared with people I had grown up with. For example; jokes. Most jokes are based on shared knowledge between you and your audience, without you even thinking to check this beforehand. Usually, only the most subtle visual or verbal clue is needed to understand what is meant. Of course; that is the power of jokes. Explaining them is destroying them, right?
Simply think of the favourite TV series you may have seen in your younger years. For example; Imitating a specific voice or phrase from a character might be a way of connecting with a friend who used to watch the show too. We can do this sort
of things without thinking too hard about it.
Although in a new country this kind of cultural reference points had become useless, at least the wider and international part is still applicable.

Long story short:
Our collective memory contains thousands of faces, names, brands, objects, scandals, disasters and victories. Like I said above; you often only need a small clue to understand what is meant. Two musical notes heard … and you can sing along to the song. Just some initials could be enough for certain celebs or brands. A low resolute image of a security camera can direct you to the criminal. Or to the hero.
No detailed image is needed to recognise Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg.

Acrylic on 667 canvases

  
   

 

The sign is on

It has been a while since I posted an update about our move to Australia. Well, last year we found our perfect dream home, with a large shop window in the main street of Maitland. Maitland is about 30 kilometres from Newcastle. It has beautiful historic buildings and a railway to Newcastle and Sydney. Maitland has the perfect mix between the abundance of a city and the sense of community of a small town. Beside a shop/studio our building also has a good-sized working place, private parking space at the back and a nice apartment.
It could not be better!!!

Sculptures outdoors

These are 2 sculptures I made for a collector in New Zealand. They are variations of my familiar treescapes and are made from spin formed steel components, welded together and then grinded and surface finished.
The red sculpture sits on a Corten steel plinth and measures about 70x70x80cm, the plint is about 1m high. For ease of installation, the individual tree shapes are attached to the base with a screw from the bottom. It’s really heavy!
The beige sculpture sits on a hidden metal footing which is covered with gravel. The finish is a multi-layered automotive paint with a metallic matte finish, it measures 75x75x130cm.


Lethbridge gallery

I became a finalist at the small scale art award of the Lethbridge gallery in Brisbane. An art contest for small paintings. I was not able to be present at the announcement of the prizes, but it’s still fun to discover on Instagram the gallery owner picked just MY paintings to feature in advance!

Early works

When packing our stuff to move from New Zealand to Australia, I found some of my early paintings. As an artist I was a late starter (at the age of 26 or 27), so my first paintings are about 25 years old now.

A couple of years ago I painted a few portraits in a slightly off-realistic style and I certainly will go on with that project as soon as my time-seeds are germinated. But seeing my 25 years old paintings again, I realized my preference for ‘weird faces’ was already visible in my early days.
In 1993 I collected pictures from newspapers of people who were in some way ‘in action’. After I had a bunch of good mugs, I played around with the copying-machine to resized the pictures to my liking. Then I stuck them together in a way as if they are looking towards you.
A bit more experienced now, I would say the perspective, details and lighting is ‘somewhat challenging’, but this are still the kind of faces I would have chosen these days too.

havencafe, early havencafe detail 1 havencafe detail 2 References

I regret I only tore out the pictures and was not interested in the text in the newspapers. The only caption I remember was the guy in the green shirt. He was a golf player and was watching the trajectory of his ball towards the hole. On the painting you still can imagine he was carrying a golf stick in his left hand.

Some of my art treasures

Bakers don’t need to buy bread. Wood choppers are never in need of firewood. I hardly can imagine a general practitioner consults a general practitioner. And your drug dealer, well … you got it.
Some artists may think other artists are no target audience for their attempts to sell their art, but I certainly do buy art from other artists.

aardbeien, art treasures, strawberries, volcanoFor example; This was the first artwork I bought in a gallery 25 years ago. Actually I got it from my friend. It measures 8 x 8 centimeters and is signed with Kaja ’90. We thought it was an artist from Eastern Europe.
In the same gallery, I saw another painting that hit me right in the feels. A weird anciently scene, a gloomy sky, and in the middle a totally out of placed guy with a shocked face, sitting in a folding chair. Around him, a circle of used tissues?
Those days, in my mid twenties, that painting was way too expensive for me, so I let it be. I had forgotten to print in his name in my memory, but it would turn out I didn’t forget the scene.

Later on, I started my own art gallery in the Netherlands. Beside exhibiting my own work, I also showed the art of fellow artists. One day I had invited an artist to come over to the gallery to show his work and I was thumbing through his portfolio. On the very last page I saw … a painting with a lonely guy sitting in a folding chair in a dark and desolate landscape!

ophof800It was still available! I was delighted.
The artist was Alfred Ophof. I organized an exhibition for him and he took care that the price of the painting was now within my range, which I’m still thankful for.

A few exhibitions later I ended up with 3 paintings made by Johan de Wijs.
Here you see 2 of them.

de_idioot de_kinderwagen

elephant2One of the most interesting bronzes was this elephant of Anouk de Groot. On the second view (in case you missed it on the first glance) it can be quite a ‘conversation piece’.

But not every artwork has to come from a fancy gallery … Today in the op-shop I paid a few dollars for a precious little artwork. Even the tiny sign (B. Burns ’82) was meticulously neatly done. For me it’s clear this is/was a truly talented person.


stenen-poes

 

I’m almost forgot this one: http://www.vanlubeck.com/blog/2011/09/19/fellow-artists/

I’m sure this post will get a part 2 in the future, because there are still some artists on my wish list for a long time.


What about originality?

28 November 2016

Some people say: “Everything has been done already before”.
And I’ve always been afraid that the things I paint are created by someone else once before. That I am not aware of it and therefore I innocently could be accused of copy-catting. A demoralising thought!
Before the start of a new painting I thoroughly search the internet for images that could be interpreted as similar to my idea. If I find one, then the inspiration is instantly quenched.
Luckily it only happened once. I wanted to paint a Dutch mill on a moonscape, but a friend found an image of a comparable scene! I was disappointed and relieved at the same time.

There are artists who are inspired by the work of another artist. I think most of the artist are. At least at the beginning of their career. A lot has been written about the concept of inspiration, but personally I don’t want to see who is the source of inspiration in one’s artwork. If that is too transparent, I think the artist hasn’t fully developed his or her own handwriting. I won’t say then he is not a good artist, but for my own work I find it a requirement that nobody can see the early puppy admiration.
Actually, I’m not flattered anymore if someone says: “Ohh, your work reminds me of Dali!” Grmppff … what Dali?!?! My work is completely different! And it isn’t Willink-like too. Phew, get some new glasses!

I really want to stop checking the web before I hit a new canvas. Both beforehand and afterwards.
When I started my series of portraits in 2011 and just had finished 3 of them, I discovered a Serbian painter who created the same kind ‘deformed’ portraits and also had added a kind of fantasy stories to them.
I was upset for months! I so had enjoyed painting my own portraits and making up their imaginary lives … and now suddenly I could not go on with this project. The spark was completely dead.
It took months before I found back the fun. Months before I could see that the difference between the Serbian guy and me was big enough to go on. That there was room for both of us.

The image on the top left I found on the internet and is made by Justin Miller. On the right side my Agaricia Bullio.
The second left image was named ‘Gonzo Green forest’, but I couldn’t find any more information.
Justin, Gonzo, Slavko and I possibly have been the soil for the seeds of the same source of inspiration.
It doesn’t matter … everything has been done already before. It was a stupid fear anyway.

inspiration, originality