Wednesday, May 7, 2014

exhibition `dance' in galerie meander 18 may - 20 july

from 18 may - 20 july 2014 i will participate in


a theme exhibition in galerie meander, zevenaar (near arnhem)

exhibition of dance art, galerie meander

dance has always been important to me, and is a main theme in my drawings for over 25 years. also on this blog you will find many posts related to dance.

you are of course cordially invited to come see the show.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

LaTeX in blogger

you may or may not be aware that i also maintain a math & science & philosophy blog. an important reason for starting this as a separate blog on wordpress was that the mathematical typesetting of formulas used to be difficult on blogger. but recently things have changed, and now it is possible to use LaTeX (math formatting language/software) also in blogger, through the platform of mathjax, see here how to run this on blogger.

so, just because i like math formulas also aesthetically, let me write some simple formula here. Let $f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow\mathbb{R}$ be given by:


whatever that may mean... and i'm left with the problem of deciding whether i should integrate the two blogs or not...

[update: since this post scores way too high on google search, let me include the instructions for installing mathjax:

to get mathjax to work in blogger, go to your blogger account. click through to your blog's dashboard called `overview', and then click `template' on the left-hand menu. (at this point i myself always backup first, top right side). next click "edit html". after the first <head> you see, paste:

<script src='' type='text/javascript'>  
        HTML: ["input/TeX","output/HTML-CSS"],
        TeX: { extensions: ["AMSmath.js","AMSsymbols.js"],
               equationNumbers: { autoNumber: "AMS" } },
        extensions: ["tex2jax.js"],
        jax: ["input/TeX","output/HTML-CSS"],
        tex2jax: { inlineMath: [ ['$','$'], ["\\(","\\)"] ],
                   displayMath: [ ['$$','$$'], ["\\[","\\]"] ],
                   processEscapes: true },
        "HTML-CSS": { availableFonts: ["TeX"],
                      linebreaks: { automatic: true } }

you can now use $...$ or \(...\) for inline equations, and $$...$$ or \[...\] for displaying equations centered in their own line.]

art appreciation a century ago and today...

some time ago i came across the book of tea written in 1906 by okakura kakuzō. and i was surprised to see what he had to say on the subject of art appreciation, in chapter v:


V. Art Appreciation

...[i omit the beginning of the chapter]

It is much to be regretted that so much of the apparent enthusiasm for art at the present day has no foundation in real feeling. In this democratic age of ours men clamour for what is popularly considered the best, regardless of their feelings. They want the costly, not the refined; the fashionable, not the beautiful. To the masses, contemplation of illustrated periodicals, the worthy product of their own industrialism,would give more digestible food for artistic enjoyment than the early Italians or the Ashikaga masters, whom they pretend to admire. The name of the artist is more important to them than the quality of the work. As a Chinese critic complained many centuries ago, “People criticise a picture by their ear.” It is this lack of genuine appreciation that is responsible for the pseudo-classic horrors that today greet us wherever we turn.

Another common mistake is that of confusing art with archæology. The veneration born of antiquity is one of the best traits in the human character, and fain would we have it cultivated to a greater extent. The old masters are rightly to be honoured for opening the path to future enlightenment. The mere fact that they have passed unscathed through centuries of criticism and come down to us still covered with glory commands our respect. But we should be foolish indeed if we valued their achievement simply on the score of age. Yet we allow our historical sympathy to override our æsthetic discrimination. We offer flowers of approbation when the artist is safely laid in his grave. The nineteenth century, pregnant with the theory of evolution, has moreover created in us the habit of losing sight of the individual in the species. A collector is anxious to acquire specimens to illustrate a period or a school, and forgets that a single masterpiece can teach us more than any number of the mediocre products of a given period or school. We classify too much and enjoy too little. The sacrifice of the æsthetic to the so-called scientific method of exhibition has been the bane of many museums.

The claims of contemporary art cannot be ignored in any vital scheme of life. The art of today is that which really belongs to us: it is our own reflection. In condemning it we but condemn ourselves. We say that the present age possesses no art:—who is responsible for this? It is indeed a shame that despite all our rhapsodies about the ancients we pay so little attention to our own possibilities. Struggling artists, weary souls lingering in the shadow of cold disdain! In our self-centered century, what inspiration do we offer them? The past may well look with pity at the poverty of our civilisation; the future will laugh at the barrenness of our art. We are destroying the beautiful in life. Would that some great wizard might from the stem of society shape a mighty harp whose strings would resound to the touch of genius.


well, a lot of the above still seems true today, in my eyes. yet it is somewhat heartening to see that other people recognize this as a problem too. maybe in another century's time things will be different :-)

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, November 3, 2013

Philosophy, finally (`we live through maps', art & imagination from a different perspective)

You may be aware that I also maintain a math & science & philosophy blog... I have to admit that I sometimes regret not having integrated the latter blog into this one, which is my first and most important blog. But an important reason for not doing so was a technical one: Blogger does not support LaTeX, which is the formatting standard for mathematics and the exact sciences in general.

The drawback is the artificial separation between my thoughts on art and my thoughts on philosophy that sometimes results. After all, I consider art to be a profound form of philosophy, not less so for (mostly) being non-verbal. I have long been wanting to write something about the relation between art and philosophy, but in a way I was held back by the fact that I had already written something on that Dutch.

In my last year as a student of mathematics, I had to write a philosophy paper. Philosophy was quite an extensive requirement at the time, to obtain a Master's degree in math. I don't know how things stand nowadays. Now, as a math student I seldom went to math classes, preferring to study for my exams from the literature, since already then I devoted more time to my artistic endeavours. (I had already been to Art College prior to my math studies). But I did attend the philosophy classes faithfully, since philosophy has always interested me greatly.

The writing of a philosophy paper I found almost harder than the writing of my Master's thesis. I still remember the mental stress I felt, since I wanted to really write down how I felt about philosophy and our existence on this planet, but I strongly felt that words are often not my preferred medium. How then to put such a philosophy into words? Agonizing, but I did not want to turn in some rehashing of other people's thoughts, and the philosophy requirement could not be evaded.

The result of a month of mental hard labour was a 7000-words paper, a typewritten manuscript for which I used my preferred sketch paper type, which gave a beautiful `aged' feel. Not standard for documents of course. The teacher graded it an A-...which in my natural modesty I found too low:-). But the contents were even more non-standard I think than the exterior, so perhaps I should have been very happy to pass at all.

Nonetheless, the paper actually surprised me, since it came very close to expressing my feelings on philosophy and on our Western culture. I occasionally reread it, and then each time was struck by how close to home the words struck me. Surprisingly to me at least is that I still feel the same way.

So finally, after 22 years, I decided to translate it into English. As a series of posts on my math & science & philosophy blog, titled `We live through maps'.

The paper should go a long way in explaining my feelings on art in relation to verbal philosophy. It also explains why I think we should actually integrate science with art and philosophy much more than we usually do. Finally, it gives me a basis to refer to when I'm writing on art and philosophy. This is really nice about the internet: we can share thoughts, knowledge, pictures, music much more easily than ever before.

Monday, October 21, 2013

(four seasons...) art & imagination: `blue remembered earth' by alastair reynolds

trailer for blue remembered earth by alastair reynolds

in the thread on the four seasons, i discussed the novel `the botticelli secret' in the previous post. it did not really capture me, but it rekindled my enthusiasm for botticelli's wonderful painting `primavera' (`spring').

it then struck me that the four seasons are in fact a result of our earth revolving around the sun. did you know that the seasons do not have equal length? on the northern hemisphere currently (and for a long time to come) summer and spring are longer than autumn and winter...(see this website on the length of the seasons). the landmass on the northern hemisphere being the larger by far, this is likely to contribute to global warming.

but to be honest, it provides me with a nice opportunity to discuss one of my favourite writers: alastair reynolds. here we have a science fiction author who imagines whole worlds and futures in an astonishingly visionary way. and more importantly, the science in his fiction to me is always daring yet convincing. it is clear that everything is carefully thought out and executed, just like in the `primavera', with amazing eye for detail and yet never forgetting the larger picture.

it turns out that reynolds is a scientist, who worked for ESA before turning professional writer. no wonder then that his descriptions of space and science are so rich. still, no author really captures me if the characters remain too `flat'. in this respect also i find reynolds' books fascinating. the humanity of the (human(oid)) characters is ever present, and rings true.

doesn't it tell us something though, that the word for `imagination' is ... `imagination'? in other words: creating images? a writer creates images in our minds. art and imagination are seldom far apart.

perhaps no coincidence then, that reynolds imagines art-rich africa to be so important in the scheme of things to come. in `blue remembered earth', one of the protagonists (sunday akinya) is a future artist. not only are reynolds' descriptions of her works intriguing, he also manages to capture something of the struggle that each true artist faces, in any time. simply an engrossing and wonderful novel, thank you alastair!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

(four seasons:) botticelli's primavera

primavera by botticelli
sandro botticelli, primavera (`spring', painted around 1482)

still on the topic of the four seasons...i recently read marina fiorato's novel the botticelli secret. as a novel, it didn't really touch me. but reading such `historical' works always helps me to understand a bit about long ago times. there were some strange historical mistakes in the book, but overall i could enjoy it enough nonetheless. (eg. in 1482 the protagonist refers to the statue of david by michelangelo...which was created around 1501-1504... that sort of thing).

the idea that botticelli's primavera depicts some sort of political plot strikes me as far-fetched but is actually a serious academic idea, it seems. i find the regular interpretation (that it is an elaborate allegory on the fertility of life) more convincing. it doesn't really matter to me, the novel helped me to look at the painting once more in great detail, which is a joy. the enormous diversity of plants used is amazing, for instance. and even though i remain ambiguous about any deeper meanings, the painting itself remains alluring in a to me undefinable way. i did not really learn much about botticelli from the book though, contrary to what i had hoped.