## Sunday, March 25, 2012

### more greek mythology: icarus (miscellaneous 4)

more greek mythology (see icarus on wikipedia):

icarus sans wings (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

from wikipedia:
Icarus's father, Daedalus, a talented and remarkable Athenian craftsman, attempted to escape from his exile in the palace of Knossos, Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, the king for whom he had built the Labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur (half man, half bull).
Daedalus, the superior craftsman, was exiled because he gave Minos' daughter, Ariadne, a clew[2] (or ball of string) in order to help Theseus, the enemy of Minos, to survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur with a sword which was used to stab the Minotaur in the neck.
Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son.
Trying his wings first, Daedalus before taking off from the island,warns his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight.
Overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky curiously, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax.
Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms.
And so, Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island southwest of Samos.

dream of icarus (own work, 2011, 40 x 41 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(you may notice some subconscious, surreal elements... also see the starting post of this miscellaneous´ thread)

the fall of icarus is usually associated with having too much hubris, being an irresponsible high-flyer etc. again there is an absolutely brilliant painting by pieter brueghel the elder depicting the fall of icarus. but, contrary to popular opinion under art historians, i think maybe brueghel´s intention was not to criticize icarus, but to criticize us, for not even noticing extraordinary events, for pretending not to see them, to not help people in distress, etc. (see my 2008 posts on brueghel´s painting)

pieter brueghel the elder, landscape and the fall of icarus (click on the image for an enlargement)

## Saturday, March 24, 2012

### charon awaits on the styx (miscellaneous 3)

continuing in this vein...connecting to greek mythology (see charon on wikipedia)

charon awaits on the styx (own work, 2011, 30 x 61 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(in original greek sources, the river acheron is the river across which charon ferries the dead, but the styx has taken that place in popular perception...and in mine...)

this is also a widely depicted theme in western art history. let me give an example of one of gustave doré's etchings which he made to illustrate dante's divina commedia:

gustave doré, charon herds the sinners onto his boat (click on the image for an enlargement)

gustave doré, charon on his boat (click on the image for an enlargement)

## Friday, March 23, 2012

### the slow triumph of death (miscellaneous 2, see way of working')

the triumph of death' is an old medieval/renaissance theme, mostly in painting and etching/drawing. the theme, also known as danse macabre, embodies that we are all mortal, and as such no earthly difference in status, riches, piety, conduct will help anyone to escape death.

i've made a small construction-sculpture on the same theme (with a sidewise reference to damien hirst's for the love of god' although lacking false modesty i really consider the below work to have more depth, irony and all):

the slow triumph of death (own work, 2010-2011, 30 x 15 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

the sculpture contains various ways in which we meet our end...;-) (largely invisible, on the other side there is a pink cadillac-like car)

of course, a completely brilliant version of this theme by pieter brueghel the elder cannot be left out:

pieter brueghel the elder, the triumph of death (1567, click on the image for an enlargement)

this has to be one of the alltime masterpieces of western art, even though its subject is not so cheerful... which then explains why i added a large dollop of ironic humor to the sculpture above ;-)

## Thursday, March 22, 2012

### pink elephant (miscellaneous 1, see way of working')

pink elephant (own work, 2010-2012, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

so, as illustration of this way of working, i'm putting up a series of recent stuff, with a few comments. the above drawing serves to illustrate the power of the subconscious...since i have little conscious knowledge of what an elephant looks like. but i felt like drawing an elephant, and since i know it's better to let the hand lead...i stopped thinking about it and just drew.

then, finally, i added some photoshop touch to the background.

to me it seems that digital influence on hand-created works and vice versa, is a promising field. but usually i'm inclined to not use digital enhancements, or only very sparingly. however, there have been a number of designs where there was a cycle: drawing, photoshop, printing, drawing,... yielding very nice results.

so although i'm very traditional by most standards, i like to use digital techniques also (limited as my skills may be).

### way of working, paul klee

paul klee, embrace (click on the image for an enlargement)

so what does an artist do, when (s)he's working?

it's not so easy to describe, and very different for different artists too, i suppose.

for me, it consists of many different activities. mostly, there are multiple works waiting for further improvement. any of these works might call for my attention, and i start working on colour, image, composition,...

or i might start a new work, depending on some inner inspiration/drive which is hard to pin down. or i might decide to practice some technique or detail. or i might decide to experiment with some technique or detail. or i might decide to sit and think about what direction to take in the works to come.

i try to force myself to take breaks...but in my studio this can be a problem because everywhere there are questions waiting to be addressed.

one artist who i imagine worked like this also, judging by his diverse oeuvre, is paul klee. since he is one of my alltime favourite artists, i'm not inclined to change my way of working very radically.

from wikipedia:
Klee has been variously associated with Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Abstraction, but his pictures are difficult to classify. He generally worked in isolation from his peers, and interpreted new art trends in his own way. He was inventive in his methods and technique. Klee worked in many different media—oil paint, watercolor, ink, pastel, etching, and others. He often combined them into one work. He used canvas, burlap, muslin, linen, gauze, cardboard, metal foils, fabric, wallpaper, and newsprint.[56] Klee employed spray paint, knife application, stamping, glazing, and impasto, and mixed media such as oil with watercolor, water color with pen and India ink, and oil with tempera.[57]

He was a natural draftsman, and through long experimentation developed a mastery of color and tonality. Many of his works combine these skills. He uses a great variety of color palettes from nearly monochromatic to highly polychromatic. His works often have a fragile child-like quality to them and are usually on a small scale. He often used geometric forms as well as letters, numbers, and arrows, and combined them with figures of animals and people. Some works were completely abstract. Many of his works and their titles reflect his dry humor and varying moods; some express political convictions. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and sometimes include words or musical notation. The later works are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Klee in 1921, "Even if you hadn’t told me he plays the violin, I would have guessed that on many occasions his drawings were transcriptions of music."[14]

Pamela Kort observed: "Klee's 1933 drawings present their beholder with an unparalleled opportunity to glimpse a central aspect of his aesthetics that has remained largely unappreciated: his lifelong concern with the possibilities of parody and wit. Herein lies their real significance, particularly for an audience unaware that Klee's art has political dimensions."[58]

there are some striking similarities with my own approach to art...so there is hope yet ;-)

## Thursday, March 15, 2012

### of human relations 4: drawings from my sketchbooks

[repeated: as i said, i'm looking for new ways to visualize human relations, feelings, real-life struggle as well as uplifting moments. looking back on centuries of art, i find myself surprised that there is so little art which addresses this in a way that i find provoking, uplifting, inspiring.

this gives new motivation to continue my investigation. i feel sure enough of the emotive strength of the drawings which come up in this sense. and this translates into paintings as well. but enough words, the images themselves should be stronger.']

sleeping woman (own work, 2010, 10 x 15 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

fighting in the street (own work, 2010, 10 x 15 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

compassion (own work, 2010, 10 x 15 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

grief and comfort iv (own work, 2012, 20 x 25 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

## Saturday, March 10, 2012

### of human relations 3: drawings, drawings

[repeated: as i said, i'm looking for new ways to visualize human relations, feelings, real-life struggle as well as uplifting moments. looking back on centuries of art, i find myself surprised that there is so little art which addresses this in a way that i find provoking, uplifting, inspiring.

this gives new motivation to continue my investigation. i feel sure enough of the emotive strength of the drawings which come up in this sense. and this translates into paintings as well. but enough words, the images themselves should be stronger.']

self-portrait as a mother worried about her children (own work, 2012, 30 x 36 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

rejection (own work, 2012, 21 x 20 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

for the next image, also see the post on notre dame des anges:

seigneur notre retraite (in brown-red) (own work, 2011, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

another theme that crops up ever more frequently: the people who do not fit well into our wonderful' society. sure, they are the misfits, so to say. but who is the more crazy, he who accepts this crazy world, or he who does not fit in? if you have read my previous posts, you will know that i for one cannot simply answer that question. and my concern and sympathy are often with the misfits, and my anger is often directed at all the respected' institutions which together comprise the status quo in our society.

woman out of kilter (own work, 2011, 20 x 28 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

i think emotive expressive power comes from the eyes, the face, the body language...and the materials and techniques used. this is what i study on, laboriously, and much unappreciatedly...but the time of appreciation will come, i suppose, once enough people see the works and enough time has passed for them to compare this avenue of art to other avenues. anyway, if you see any art touching on the same themes, please let me know, since it would be inspiring to me to know other artists with a similar outlook.

detail of woman out of kilter (own work, 2011, 20 x 28 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

taking care of the psychiatric patient iii (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

grief and comfort iii (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

self-portrait in orange unrest (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

man, lost in thoughts and orange background (own work, 2011, 30 x 36 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

st. frances posing (own work, 2011, 30 x 35 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

woman in white bra (own work, 2012, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

### of human relations 2: in the family bed

as i said, i'm looking for new ways to visualize human relations, feelings, real-life struggle as well as uplifting moments. looking back on centuries of art, i find myself surprised that there is so little art which addresses this in a way that i find provoking, uplifting, inspiring.

this gives new motivation to continue my investigation. i feel sure enough of the emotive strength of the drawings which come up in this sense. and this translates into paintings as well. but enough words, the images themselves should be stronger. (also see the next post, for more drawings)

in the family bed (own work, 2011, 80 x 110 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

## Friday, March 9, 2012

### nudity, nudity in art, violence & societal hypocrisy 2

in the previous post, i wrote from the premisse -for the time of that post being, for the sake of argument- that there is a proximity of nudity and sex.

however, this proximity is largely fueled by our own society's prudishness. in many more cultured primitive' societies (in a warmer climate than our dutch one, i admit), nudity is/was a normal state of affairs, and not associated with sex at all.

this phenomenon can be easily observed for oneself, by visiting a sauna (in our parts of the world, people are generally naked in the sauna) or a nudist beach or similar. when everyone is naked, nudity quickly becomes normal, and the sexual part of it diminishes rapidly.

there is another effect of nudity which then becomes clear (when we have stopped associating it with sex). namely, nudity often dissolves status. nudity often dissolves power. we are all equal animals, under the naked sun.

yet many people are embarrassed by nudity, be it nudity of others or their own. this again in my eyes has largely to do with society's strange norms on beauty, ideal body proportions, sex, but also on openness, vulnerability.

&&&&&&

we dress up, to cover ourselves. cover your ass...this expression is not coincidental. and cover your ass' in my eyes is a very big contributor to the sabotage of societal change and improvement. when searching for cover your ass', observe that google does not auto-suggest this search term...because ass is considered a possibly offensive word by google...how hypocritical can we become?

conversely, when we are naked, we become ... in a sense open, unveiled, unthreatening, vulnerable, power-less, unequipped for violence, status-less, unmarked by social/societal trappings,...although of course we are then clearly man or woman.

but look around you, in our dressed world. is not everybody almost immediately distinguishable as man or woman? we seem to think this a very important distinction, and whole marketing campaigns are based on this difference. actually, our society is almost obsessed with sex and gender difference to the point of mental ill-health. certainly when you compare it to many of the easy, uncomplicated primitive' societies i mentioned earlier.

so this is where our hypocrisy becomes clear. we are obsessed, as a society, with sex and sexuality...but we frown upon nudity, and google's safe search and search-suggestions shows that we actively try to maintain this situation in which nudity is charged...perhaps BECAUSE we wish to keep it charged, because of our fixation on sex.

&&&&&&

can there be a more innocent scene than naked children playing on the beach? however, things have gone so far that an artistic photographer will scratch his/her head twice before displaying pictures of naked children...because almost certainly someone will cry: abuse! porn!

but the world press photo award invariably goes to a photographer who has managed to capture a moment of great human tragedy...often extreme violence due to war, terrorism,...

%%%%%%

this is the sad sad situation in which i find myself as an artist. for years and years, nudity didn't interest me very much, because i saw it as a cliché. in classical art, i often saw nudity which struck me as artificial, maybe even as a cover-up for erotic desires without daring to be explicit about those desires. in more modern art, i saw a lot of nudity which struck me as a cliché also, in its (perceived by me) intent to shock, or to show the daring of the artist, or ...

but lately i have come to realize that all these so-called liberations of the sixties and seventies and... haven't liberated us in the least. not really.

in a society liberated from this sex-obsession, nudity would not be such a problem. and sexual violence would be virtually absent. sexual violence in our society occurs appallingly frequently, but of course no one talks about it.

%%%%%%

and what about sexual exploitation? in our society this is extremely appalling also. the scale of sexual slavery in prostitution-related business is truly shocking. in this, our own oh so developed' society. and nobody talks about it. we have liberated' tv-shows, in which mostly youthful people show any body part in any situation...mostly under influence of a lot of alcohol or other drugs. but it is a rare occasion indeed to see a documentary on the sexual slavery involved in prostitution-related business.

§§§§§§

so, you tell me why i'm finding myself reconsidering nudity as a cliché. i recently posted a painting called the artist is always naked' which reflects some of this reconsidering. but there are many other connotations, which i find myself drawn to investigate. nudity and innocence, for instance.

on wikipedia, you can also read on nudity and art, and nudity in general. and what about google/blogger/blogspot?

well, i simply consider whatever i post on this blog to be artistic...therefore covered by the exception rule.

the artist is always naked ii (own work, 2012, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

and as a reference to the primitive' society i mentioned:

self-portrait as naked shaman (own work, 2012, 21 x 29 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

## Wednesday, March 7, 2012

### nudity in art, violence & societal hypocrisy (also google, blogspot)

i've been putting this post off, since it bothers me that it should be necessary -in this day and age- to write about this subject.

all animals are nude. all humans are nude, under their clothes, under the shower, on the toilet seat, what have you. this nudity is natural, far more natural than its covering up.

yet, in this day and age, which is supposed to be modern, we still are the most absolute prudes when it comes to nudity. nudity is shameful. many consider nudity obscene. why, is probably because of the perceived proximity between nudity and sex, or sexual reproduction.

suppose even for a minute that this is true, this proximity. then still: all animals have sex. sexual reproduction is as natural as eating and drinking. however, in the higher' animals, selection of a mate involves mating behaviour rituals. i can imagine that some form of seclusion, hidden-from-prying-eyes, is part of our natural mating ritual.

this does not for one minute start to explain why this modern' society is so fxxxed up about sex, pardon my language. and much less so, why nudity-which-can be-seen is considered such a big deal.

oh, you think i'm exaggerating, do you?

for your information, before even being able to let this blog come to you, i have to let google/blogger/blogspot know that this blog does not contain adult content'. since this is primarily an art blog, i would suppose that it fulfills the criteria for not being offensive'...but this may need some attention. what does google/blogger/blogspot mean by adult content'? now, the thing is, i'm allowed to WRITE about sex, porn, anything you like...but i'm not allowed to post IMAGES of nudity...except for medical, or educational reasons...and they may allow artistic nudity on an exception-basis, individually accorded...

of course, i can post most if not all images of extreme violence, no problem, without being subjected to likewise ... intelligence-insulting, spirituality-insulting conditions.

would you believe this? i still have a hard time believing it. google's safe search does not filter out extreme violence, it filters out nudity (and sex, and porn). so imagine this child of say 9 years old. as a society we seriously consider it dangerous for this child to see images of nudity, but we think it's ok if this child sees beheadings, bombings, dead and mutilated victims of crimes...

and everybody says, well ok, i get that, that's logical...

making love is considered dangerous, killing is considered safe. i'm not exaggerating. this is the level of hypocrisy in our society, just in regard to nudity and sex. because for instance the painting below has been considered a true spiritual and classical work of art for centuries:

titian, venus of urbino

but manet's rendition of a similar lady raised a scandal:

édouard manet, olympia

&&&&&&&

just for your information: i consider most nudity to be a natural state of things. i consider most (non-exploiting) consensual sexual images to be a natural state of things. i think non-violent or non-degrading and non-exploiting porn to be generally loveless, but not very dangerous.

but i have never been so utterly sick as when i was watching a news report in which a soldier casually shot an innocent stander-by dead, just for nothing, out of irritation, boredom, kicks'...who knows.

&&&&&&

we live in a society that spiritually speaking is more primitive than most societies we call primitive'. and we are extreme hypocrites about nudity, sex and violence. is it any wonder that we are obsessed with sex and violence and technology in movies, rather than with love, building together, nature?

and we have not progressed much in the past 100 years, on the contrary i would say.

(to be continued)

## Monday, March 5, 2012

### notre dame des anges 2 (spiritual woman portraits)

notre dame des anges (intense) (own work, 2011, 55 x 80 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

repeated from the previous post: the woman portraits made in this series share the name notre dame des anges´. this is a reference to the medieval´ spirituality i mentioned above. but the portraits are of course not a depiction of maria. they are intended as portraits of contemporary women emanating this type of spirituality which i find hard to describe.

in this series i experiment with all sorts of visual elements. georgia o'keeffe (one of my all-time favourite artists) said:

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for."

(o'keeffe is just amazing, as an artist and as a person, and fits very well in the subject of this post, but i will devote a separate post to her in the foreseeable future.)

anyway, in this post i will show some of my experiments using paint. you will see that i do not shy away from outsider-like techniques. at the same time, i'm also heavily studying the human form and body, as a means of expressing spirituality, vulnerability, openness, unarmedness etc. (this will lead to a next post on nudity in art, and double standards in society)

notre dame des anges as outsider (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges (déshabillée) (own work, 2011, 50 x 90 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges at night ii (own work, 2010, 30 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

the colours of the above work are impossible to photograph, it seems, so i have little hope that what appears on your screen resembles the original enough, sorry. the same actually holds in a somewhat lesser but still annoying degree for most of the works in this post...one day i will arrange for a really good camera, and really good lighting conditions.

notre dame des anges (curly red hair) (own work, 2008-2012, 30 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges at night i (own work, 2003-2009, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement) (i posted this one earlier)

notre dame des anges (green hair) (own work, 2003-2009, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement) (i posted this one earlier)

## Sunday, March 4, 2012

### notre dame des anges: series of spiritual woman portraits

notre dame des anges (blue ballpoint) (own work, 2010, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

my discomfiture with our modern enlightened' society runs deep. i hesitate to put all of it in writing, since negativism is so often frowned upon. i admit there is something to be said for positive suggestion how to improve, rather than just' criticizing.

i intend to do some more criticizing also though (like in the previous post's drawing).

but on the positive side, i have been working, for years and years, on a series of spiritual´ woman portraits...whatever that may mean. maybe it means something like: in the spirit of what i perceive as medieval spirituality connected to maria, mother of jesus.

i wrote earlier on this blog about the stunning 'mare de deu' sculptures from 13th-16th century catalonia. all very different, all very individual, all seemingly derived from real persons (in my eyes of course).

i also stated earlier that i'm not a fan of religion. but some form of spirituality seems to me the only way for humanity to pull itself out of the endless cycle of poverty, violence, greed, hate, war, ... you know.

so the woman portraits made in this series share the name notre dame des anges´. this is a reference to the medieval´ spirituality i mentioned above. but the portraits are of course not a depiction of maria. they are intended as portraits of contemporary women emanating this type of spirituality which i find hard to describe.

by the way, there is a similar series in the same vein, with man portraits, called seigneur notre retraite´, referring in the same way to a medieval´ spirituality i associate with jesus.

not being in favour of religion didn't stop me from being surprised to realize that religious art is being discriminated against, in the contemporary art world´. someone pointed this out, i have to google to see who it was, will come back to you on this later. then again, as this same person pointed out, there are many art genres which are not considered `worthy´ by the contemporary art-world's elite.

notre dame des anges (bookcover) (own work, 2010, 19 x 28 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges (cutout) (own work, 2012, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges (pencil) (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges (in red) (own work, 2010, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

detail of notre dame des anges (in red) (own work, 2010, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges texting (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)(i posted this one earlier)