Tuesday, October 20, 2009

refugee father & child

frank waaldijk, refugee father & child
refugee father & child
own work ~ 2006-2009 ~ 120 x 200 cm ~ acrylic on canvas

although i have difficulty photographing the colours adequately (they are more brilliant, especially some of the yellow) the painting speaks for itself, i believe. but perhaps i could add a few words on the themes which drove me to this work.


images of father & child are relatively rare in art. i don't think that this is a coincidence. somehow our society seems preoccupied with -in my not so humble opinion (imnsho)- silly preconceptions about woman-man differences. we have tons of `madonna-with-child'-like imagery, reflecting the cliché that children are raised by the loving care of the mother, much more than by the loving care of the father.

imnsho, we desperately need to change many of these man-woman clichés which are so dominant. a loving father's and mother's presence to me both seem essential in any upbringing - even though many of us have to do without one, the other or both.

the discrimination between the sexes is traditionally seen as holding women back from good job perspectives, economic independence, sexual independence,... but how often do we stop to consider the role patterns that hold men back from becoming loving fathers? from becoming actively involved in the raising of the children, from being a family- and community-involved person, instead of a career-, money-, power-driven one?


anyway, i think a loving, present father can be a rock of security in a child's world. a safe haven, a protector, a comforting presence.

in the painting, i was also driven by the theme of war & violence, which is so predominant in the world. we are all connected. anyone's war is our war, and our concern i believe. why do we let ourselves be driven by racism, fear, greed, violence, power?

in the refugee father, i have tried to paint this. and yet his child sleeps in his arms, feeling safe, protected, knowing the father is there. but where are the mother, and the other children?

so perhaps i should add that the father understands we cannot even protect our loved ones from the violence in this world.

Monday, October 19, 2009

bill viola in de pont, tilburg

bill viola, intimate work
yesterday we went to see the show intimate work of video artist bill viola, in museum de pont, tilburg (netherlands).

a bit to my surprise -since i generally have difficulty immersing myself in video art-i found it really interesting, and i watched most of the works from beginning to end.

my favourites were small saints, acceptance and the last angel.

bill viola, small saints
in small saints we see 6 small screens, each with a different figure. each figure is in a different time frame. each figure starts grey, jaded-photograph-like, behind a thin water screen. then comes slowly forward. the effect of brilliant colour coming to the fore as soon as the figure steps through to `our' side of the screen i found quite beautiful. clearly to me evoking a reference to the way we are born, and then live in a limited time frame, after which we fade away once again in oblivion. (the figures step back, the colour is gone, the figure walks and fades away). and these timeframes do not coincide, although there is some overlap sometimes. (i couldn't find an image which really portrays the work as i describe it.)

bill viola, acceptance
acceptance looks similar, in a way, but remains black-and-white. a naked woman slowly slowly and blurredly appears, until she (too) steps slowly through a thin waterscreen. crying, wailing. but especially the way viola uses the water screen to send light around the woman's body is simply wonderful. and then the way in which she (again) steps back and fades away, ever more blurry is really very special. i'm less impressed with the crying and wailing, and other facial expressions but that is simply my prejudice against acting for themes like this.

bill viola, acceptance
the last angel is more abstract, and for that reason perhaps my most favourite. because i found it to be a very subtly coloured, multilayered study of water, playing with different aspects of video itself too...really wonderful.

anyway, i advise you to go to any such show of viola's work. here a link to bill viola's website