Another juxtaposition of elements drawn from African art and abstract, or technomorph shapes.
I relinquished the precision of drawing and designing on the Mac, although I sometimes still use Illustrator CC to create graphic work when it requires dry precision. But, for my own free stuff I just have fallen in love again with the imperfections of hand-painted, or hand-drawn lines. The way ink never quite dries evenly. Having no technology between the process that is going on in your imagination and the medium is ultimate freedom.
And, taking a few steps back, I also notice that I slowly float away from representation with each drawing or painting I make. Recognisable elements are becoming signs, or chiffres.
In the summer of 2016 I travelled with my family through the Italy from east (Le Marche) to west (Umbria). On that particular trip I preferred the company of my small sketchbook, (Hahnemühle, not Moleskine), to my camera, which only sporadically left its bag. In Le Marche we rented a wonderful historic water-mill. The villages and ‘frazione’ – small communities consisting of only a few houses – were exquisitely authentic. Only a week after we spent a wonderful week there, the area was hit by a devastating earthquake.
In Umbria tourism and recent economic prosperity has left its mark, resulting in a style of building that appeals to a certain category of people with money to spend on real estate, but a taste that was mainly formed by Italian popular TV. Expensive, no doubt, but cheap and tacky. Luckily enough there are plenty of small towns and villages that are relatively unaffected by Berlusconi-induced tastelessness. Civita di Bagnoregio is one of these very pleasant places. The small town, perched on a high rock is well-known and loved by tourists, and a visit is certainly rewarding.
From the terrace of the house we rented in the volcanic valley not far from Civita, I could see the old town, high on its weathered volcanic rock. Inspired by that enchanting view I filled my sketchbook, not by copying what I saw, but by drawing from my imagination, inspired by what I had seen moments before; sometimes floating into near abstraction, sometimes staying closer to reality.
Together these images evolved into a number of juxtaposed sketches which form the point of departure for a series of oil paintings. These are only loosely based on the reality on the ground. With the components of these sketches, supplemented by mental images of colour and atmosphere, and influenced by my background as art-historian with a predeliction for medieval and early renaissance art. The murals of Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena are among my all-time favorite works of art. Size, perspective and technical perfection are still less important than atmosphere, meaning and symbolism. In my own work the same apparent disregard for linear perspective is a recurring feature.
But in colouring and style I always draw from another rich source, which is my love for the masters of the European comic strips, or ‘bande dessinée’, in particular André Franquin, his fellow artist Jidéhem, and Edgar Pierre Jacobs.
Somewhere in between, between the serious art of Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the tongue-in-cheek virtuosity of André Franquin is another one of my heroes, Jean-Michel Folon, another Belgian artist. His simple, but evocative lines, shapes and colours, never fail to move me.
Therefore my works can never be regarded as ‘serious’. Although deep down, they are, very serious. But that is for another post.
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I have been busy with an number of parallel projects, both writing and art. I was looking for a nice signature/sign/icon/logo to use universally as a signature on graphic work, but also on websites, social accounts, and prints. I think I created a very simple, minimalistic even, logo.
The logo is inspired by geometric art, but also by the signatures of Japanese masters on their prints and scrolls. But it is also a typographic logo, combining the E and the B, from which it takes the negative forms and transforms it as red discs.
So far, so good. I like it, and I will be able to use it in many media.
Often when I look at architecture and architectural drawings, I have an almost synesthetic perception of music. Not a real melody, but a sense of musical rhythm, somewhere deep inside me. Of course the structure of a piece of music is often referred to as its ‘architecture’, so the association between these two arts is not really uncommon. This inspired me to create this image of an apartment building with the facade removed. The visual elements in the interior, and the structural elements of the building are like a colourful musical notation with nested patterns, repetition, and silence.
This watercolour was a real pain to create. The Mulberry paper is mainly used for printing techniques like etching, and doesn’t like India ink and watercolour. When applying watercolour the water is sucked right out of the brush, and the rough surface resists a nice even brushstroke. But I wanted to approach ancient, and predominantly non-Western techniques, like the tree-bark paintings that originates in some South-Sea areas.
Although the painting refers to South-Sea visual- and narrative motives, it also contains references to African (Chi Wara) antilope masks, DNA strings, architectural remnants of past cultures and ancient Northern European runes. It’s a memory chart of cultural history, a theme that I have started to explore again recently.
Linocut is an ideal technique for expressive subjects. I’m still trying the press and experimenting with different types of linoleum, ink, and paper. First print of a series of 4. This design is a free interpretation of a tribal ‘Pangwe’ mask.
De Linoleumsnede is ideaal voor het uitbeelden van expressieve onderwerpen. Ik ben nog aan het experimenteren met de nieuwe pers, verschillende soorten linoleum, inkt en papier. Dit is de eerste afdruk uit een kleine serie van 4 in verschillende kleuren. Het ontwerp is een vrije bewerking van een masker van de ‘Pangwe’ cultuur.