Showing posts with label van gogh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label van gogh. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

extraneous work (2): writing about art (van gogh)

perhaps you remember that i wrote about multatuli earlier (my favourite dutch author, more or less from the same time period as vincent van gogh) as being perhaps the inventor of blogging, see his published ideas. sorry to see that they are still not translated in english, an unbelievable state of affairs to me. i'm not a chauvinist, this is a terrific author with truly original prose and ... ideas of course.

but vincent van gogh is an example of a visual artist who also wrote prolifically, on art. of course, contrary to multatuli he never intended these writings to become public, they were after all personal letters, mostly to his brother theo, who was a close supporter of vincent. theo died shortly after vincent, and fortunately for us theo's young widow johanna bonger took great pains to spread appreciation of both vincent's art and the brothers' letters.

crediting multatuli with the invention of blogging is probably unfair to earlier minds which i'm unaware of. and of course, there was an essential ingredient missing: pictures. in vincent's letters one does see pictures being integrated, abundantly so and in much the same way as on this blog. [so even though i would like to be original or prolific or whatever epithet: the truth is that i'm neither of all these things, compared to certain giants in the past and present. but does it matter?]

excerpt from letter to john russell, vincent van gogh
excerpt from letter to john russell, vincent van gogh (click on the image for an enlargement)

the letter is in english (which is why i chose it for this post) since john peter russell was an australian artist who made vincent's acquaintance in paris. vincent was completely fluent in dutch, french and english, and also a voracious reader. here is a portrait of vincent by john russell:

portrait of vincent van gogh, john peter russell
portrait of vincent van gogh, john peter russell (1886, click on the image for an enlargement)

anyway, vincent wrote over 840 letters (844 have survived due to theo and johanna), containing a staggering amount of prose and sketches. seeing the interest in these letters i should remind myself that perhaps my writings here are not as uninteresting to others as i often fear them to be. but already for vincent the letters themselves were enough, and so it is for me as well: a main reason to maintain this blog is to help me crystallize and develop my thoughts on art.

excerpt from letter to john russell, vincent van gogh
yellow house sketch from letter vgm 491, vincent van gogh (click on the image for an enlargement)

Monday, October 20, 2014

intermezzo: francis bacon and van gogh

should have posted this before starting the series... my `study after van gogh' reminded me suddenly of francis bacon and vincent van gogh (both in a league of their own), just let me put up some pictures of bacon's amazing series of studies 'after' van gogh:

study for a portrait of van gogh ii, francis bacon
study for a portrait of van gogh ii, francis bacon (1957, click on the image for an enlargement)

i am as usual enthralled by bacon's way of distorting space and spatiality. i really am working on spatiality myself, but am a long way from where i would like to be.

the series of portait studies was inspired by the van gogh painting painter on the road to tarascon (destroyed in world war ii, bacon only had a photograph)

painter on the road to tarascon, vincent van gogh
painter on the road to tarascon, vincent van gogh (1885, click on the image for an enlargement)

study for a portrait of van gogh iii, francis bacon
study for a portrait of van gogh iii, francis bacon (1957, click on the image for an enlargement)

study for a portrait of van gogh v, francis bacon
study for a portrait of van gogh v, francis bacon (1957, click on the image for an enlargement)

study for a portrait of van gogh vi, francis bacon
study for a portrait of van gogh vi, francis bacon (1957, click on the image for an enlargement)

however, i suddenly realize that this intermezzo is even more to the point than i thought. if there is any artist who wrote about his art, then it must be vincent van gogh. let's elaborate on this in the next post.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

art appreciation, a study after van gogh, and an old rotring-pen drawing

study after van gogh, frank waaldijk
study after van gogh (own work, 2013, 30 x 21 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

always drawing, always thinking... i also share some other artistic characteristics with van gogh. like lack of artist recognition :-). [van gogh was very avant-garde, i'm just plain old-fashioned (except in the `details'): painting, drawing, sculpting.]

seriously, after having had three exhibitions this year, i find myself wondering once again what it takes to get people interested in art? it hardly seems to matter how hard it is and how long it takes to achieve a certain artistic mastery, it seems to be all about `buzz' (generalized page rank...see previous posts).

with just little recognition, at times i find it difficult to keep up my motivation to go further, work harder, push beyond my current limits. but on the other hand, i find the work to be its own reward and its own recognition. there something special in having drawings that i made 30 years ago, and from every period in between till now, and see the development, see aspirations coming true.

horse, frank waaldijk
horse (own work, 1984, 20 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(this drawing i made with a rotring pen...and i'm still drawing with rotring pens over 30 years later.)

there is also some artistic merit in lack of recognition: it gives a lot of freedom, and quiet. especially the quiet i'm starting to appreciate more and more.

[a year ago i wrote on this subject also, see this post on frida kahlo. the downside to my dedicated-to-art blog seems that inevitably i repeat myself. i also have trouble highlighting other artists (much as i would like to!) since i'm always running behind with putting up my own work on the internet, due to health issues.]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

vincent van gogh ... speechless

van gogh - lane near arles
vincent van gogh, a lane near arles (painted 1888)

at age 48 i'm still astounded and usually speechless when i look at vincent van gogh's paintings and drawings. we all have our own story to tell, therefore no artist should have the need to be envious, but i am envious nonetheless, more than i would normally expect of myself. not that i would want to paint the same kind of painting ... it goes deeper. i am looking and have been looking for a long time to paint in a similarly intense and personal way, but with a similar link to reality.

it remains utterly inspiring and at the same time daunting for me to see how brilliantly vincent achieved this in his paintings. look at the above, the incredible colours, but also the incredibly effective mix of detailing and broad brush strokes. and this is just one of countless masterworks. thank you vincent, you are the wordless answer to all those sceptical and non-appreciative of art.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

art and life: societal criticism in art

i had a discussion with a dear friend, the other day. not known for my lack of radical views, i stated that i had trouble accepting that so many people in our western society seem to prefer 'positive' untruths to ... well, to the bleak truth that e.g. in a country like ethiopia people have to pick coffee beans at a wage of 40 eurocent a day...7 days a week, for 10 grueling hours a day...just so we can drink cheap coffee. please don't dismiss this statement too easily. think about it for some time.

she said: well, if you are so unhappy about exploitation of poor workers, why don't you do something about it? so i tried to explain to her that this is what i try to do -in my way, which is the only way that i see myself capable of keeping up over the years. which means talking about it, writing about it, painting and drawing about it...although most of my drawings and paintings approach the subject from the other way round: i try to portray how the world would look if we concentrate on a 'spiritual' interaction (compassionate, mild, respectful, you get my drift). and of course i have been buying fair trade as much as i can, for a very long time.

which brings me to another aspect of this thread which has been going on for quite some posts now: societal criticism in art. the theme of societal criticism has been around for centuries in art. a 19th century example:

jean-françois millet, gleaners
jean-françois millet the gleaners (les glaneuses, 1857, musée d'orsay, paris, click for enlargement)

we see three gleaners: poor women, who when the wheat had been harvested scoured the land for the remaining stalks and ears. The so prominent display of the poorest of the population was seen by many as an indictment of poverty and exploitation of the workers. from wikipedia:
Millet first unveiled The Gleaners at the Salon in 1857. It immediately drew negative criticism from the middle and upper classes, who viewed the topic with suspicion: one art critic, speaking for other Parisians, perceived in it an alarming intimation of "the scaffolds of 1793."[1] Having recently come out of the French Revolution of 1848, these prosperous classes saw the painting as glorifying the lower-class worker.[1] To them, it was a reminder that French society was built upon the labor of the working masses, and landowners linked this working class with the growing movement of Socialism and the dangerous voices of Karl Marx and Émile Zola.[2]

One critic commented that "his three gleaners have gigantic pretensions, they pose as the Three Fates of Poverty…their ugliness and their grossness unrelieved."[3] While the act of gleaning was not a new topic—representations of Ruth had already been composed—this new work was a statement on rural poverty and not Biblical piety:[3] there is no touch of the Biblical sense of community and compassion in contrast of the embodiments of grinding poverty in the foreground and the rich harvest in the sunlit distance beyond. The implicit irony was unsettling.
millet was a big source of inspiration for vincent van gogh:

vincent van gogh, the potato eaters
vincent van gogh, the potato eaters (1885, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, click for enlargement)


let me add a drawing which i made yesterday, after having had this discussion. i don't think it's my best work...since my subconscious seems to work better on its own, without a directive from my mind. but i do have enough image-creating experience to get things done, visually speaking. however, i'm left with a low expectation that any of my art works will really have an impact on this persistent problem of greed, wealth, uneven distribution of resources,...human nature you could say. you may call me negative for stating this. but i think we need this negativism in order for anything to change. much of the so-valued 'positivism' in my eyes serves to maintain a status quo which is decidedly injust on a global scale.

we trample on them, to maintain our luxury
we trample on them, to maintain our luxury (own work, 2012, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

Monday, February 13, 2012

landscape art, van gogh, gorges du tarn

let me say just a few words on landscape art. it has always fascinated me, perhaps firstly because both landscape and art have always fascinated me. but secondly, my views on landscape art were almost demolished when i first saw a van gogh painting (i believe i was around 11 yrs old).

before that, i was already surrounded in our home by paintings of kenyan landscape as a backdrop for kenyan wildlife, by peter pakara (pseudonym of an artist who i barely managed to find on internet as peter siegfried hahn). i admired these paintings greatly.

peter pakara, peter siegfried hahn
peter pakara (peter siegfried hahn) (unknown title and date, i believe this to be fair use of the image; the paintings in my parents' possession are all from the seventies)

as a child i already had visited the rijksmuseum a number of times through my primary school in amsterdam. but i don' recall seeing a van gogh there. in short, my idea of what painting was changed completely (i now believe) when i first saw works by van gogh.

unfortunately i don't remember which of his works i actually saw first, but i do recall the sensation of being in complete awe of something another human has made. not like the awe i had before for realistic works of art, but on a wholly new level, the awe that somebody had actually managed to paint something of what i always felt when being in nature.

vincent van gogh, wheat field with cypresses
vincent van gogh wheat field with cypresses (1889, click on the image for an enlargement)

ok, now for my own puny contribution to this post's imagery. three years ago i visited the gorgeous gorges du tarn:

st georges de levejac, gorges du tarn
st georges de levejac, gorges du tarn

and some time later i made this drainting:

gorges du tarn, frank waaldijk, 2009
gorges du tarn (own work, 21 x 30 cm, 2009, click on the image for an enlargement)

(to be continued)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

outsider art 1: the outsider in art

perhaps i will launch a series of posts on outsider art, which frequently touches me. but the more direct reason for this post is my attraction to artists who paint some feeling of `outsiderness', frequently their own, frequently indirect - but how can one paint the feeling of being an outsider, if one does not feel this (or has not felt it) inside?

i recently finished a drawing which i started already long ago in 1993. below this drawing, i will post some really inspiring -to me unbelievably masterful- paintings by bosch, ensor, rembrandt, and van gogh - all from the low countries, coincidentally?

frank waaldijk, outsider
own work ~ 1993-2009 ~ 18 x 26 cm ~ mixed media on paper


some perpetual inspirations that certainly influenced me for this drawing:

hieronymus bosch, christ carrying the cross
hieronymus bosch, christ carrying the cross

this has to be one of my all-time favourite paintings. seldom have i come across sharper depiction of la condition humaine. also, here christ is depicted as the outsider. incredible composition.

i believe the following work of james ensor to have some direct connection to bosch's painting:

james ensor, self-portrait with masks
james ensor, self-portrait with masks

further comment is not really necessary, i believe. but i would like to formulate a question that springs up in me: are we seeing the unmasked or the masked painter here? anyway, to me it offers also the interpretation that we are all outsider, because we are all surrounded by people wearing masks to us...with only one exception: ourself.


then some self-portraits depicting -in my eyes- outsiderness in some way:

rembrandt, self-portraitrembrandt, self-portrait

although this is a different self-portrait, i repeat from a previous post:
a self-portrait by rembrandt on the other hand i enjoyed for something perhaps strange; it gave me the following feeling: a man looks at me, knowing i will look at him-on-canvas when he is long gone and also knowing that he is a master far ahead of his contemporaries - not per se in skill alone, but especially in vision, in artistic feeling and experiencing reality, and therefore also in rendering reality - and knowing that i will appreciate this where most of his contemporaries lack the necessary depth of development of visual/philosophical issues.

vincent van gogh, self-portrait
vincent van gogh, self-portrait

one of van gogh's many self-portraits. outsiderness to me just radiates from expression, colour, brushstrokes...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

fashion & art 2: vincent van gogh continued

ok. having posted the previous painting wheat field under thunderclouds i cannot leave out its famous sibling:

vincent van gogh, wheat field with crows, 1890

vincent van gogh, wheat field with crows (1890)

van gogh's works were not the fashion during his lifetime. he could not sell his paintings (i believe he sold just one painting during his life), but other artists recognized his genius. after his death, his paintings quickly gained reputation. vincent to me is probably the antinomy of fashion and contemporary fashion-like art.

theorem: (ralf kwaaknijd, 2008)

the fashionality in contemp art is largely due to the relativistic opportunism of postmodernism.

proof: we leave the proof as an exercise to the reader.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

fashion & art 1: vincent van gogh

frequently i find myself being old-fashioned. i suppose it has to do with my distaste of fashion. distaste of fashion? yes, you read correctly.

it's not that i dislike nice clothes, or that i dislike contemporary creativity. i dislike the enormous marketing component, the money machine which drives our fashions. not only in clothing, but also very prominently in contemporary art.

with the communication speed of the modern world, new newer newest cannot go fast enough. to maintain the illusion of `important buzz', the marketeers in fashion (and art and any other field) have to convince us time and again that `new' equals `better'.

please don't misunderstand me with regard to (post)(post)modern art. personally i feel that a much larger art world has been opened up to us in the past century, for which i'm grateful. but on considering which art works from this period i find exceptionally moving, seems to me that these works breathe the same qualities as the exceptionally moving art works from earlier times.

there is something timeless about these works. they and `fashion' are definitely not in the same existence plane.

vincent van gogh, wheat field under thunderclouds, 1890

vincent van gogh, wheat field under thunderclouds (1890)

Monday, June 30, 2008

art & quality 14: personal fabricator 2 (digital fabrication)

to continue with this line of thinking, a question relevant to the quality of an art work also seems: how difficult is it to make such an art work?

with nanomachinery, the time is nearing where we will be able to manufacture many things from a digital blueprint.

consider a van gogh. the oil paint has a certain age, the brush strokes are (say) thick and impasto-style. it is as much a 3dimensional work as a twodimensional one. which is part of the reason why photographic reproductions don't work, and why it is hard to forge a van gogh.

but now suppose we can create a nanomachinery-driven 3d copier, which replicates paintings down to the very essence of a brushstroke, down to the chemical components, say molecule by molecule (or very close).

suddenly, everyone can have a van gogh in her/his room IF the museum would allow the nanomachinery-driven blueprinting, and subsequent distribution. everyone can have brancusi's sleeping muse, in any wanted material too.

think about it.

what would it mean for art & quality? how would it change our perspective of forgery? and what does that say about the validity of our current perspective?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

millais & van gogh - realism & more (monet also)

how looks can be deceiving. knowing millais primarily from reproductions, my expectations were enough to visit the current exhibition in the van gogh museum amsterdam. unfortunately, i found millais' paintings to be little or nothing more than photographs, sometimes attractive, agreeable, but often a bit cloying, too sweet to my taste. and i couldn't find anything lifting me to a level beyond what the eye can see at first glance. the use of paint i found very traditional and limited, no experiments, no texture/brushstrokes/layering expression...etc.

john everett millais, portrait of louise joplingjohn everett millais, portrait of louise jopling

of course, in the van gogh museum there is plenty to enjoy so it wasn't a wasted trip. i am always (i never use the words always or never since they are so absolute as to contain no real meaning) inspired by van gogh. i don't need to consider every painting of his to be a masterpiece, for me to be uplifted by his clear intention of looking beyond what the eye can see at first glance to what the heart feels when the eyes are looking soulfully.

vincent van gogh, self portraitvincent van gogh, self portrait

[postscript 1 dec 2008:] somehow i added `monet' as a label to this post...and i now see from statistics that people looking for monet come to this post... so let me add a little from and about claude monet.

claude monet, the seine at argenteuilclaude monet, the seine at argenteuil

monet here is a true impressionist, with a realism that is still very sharp, but already coming under attack from the brushwork and the colour enhancement. the painting already wants a bit to break free, to go beyond what the eyes see at first glance. later, monet throws off many previous shackles, but still retains a ever weakening link to depicting reality. abstract art is a fingertip away.

claude monet, waterloo bridgeclaude monet, waterloo bridge (one of many from an ever light-changing series)