About being a painter and freedom.
Maybe I am born as a painter, a visual storyteller or colour pathologist. I am sure the intense urge to feel liberated has always been there. But then school came and I could not withstand the oppression and later seductions. Luckily I could bend the trajectory of the brown-black dark hole called high-school towards a light spot in the sky.
And there I went, to art school. The first one I was kicked out and the second one I left in my third year of presence. I was to become an industrial designer, a coward’s way out. My head was spinning with concepts, patterns, connections but the education required plastic and rigidity.
I painted my thoughts with straight lines in CAD and created thus my little prison around my thinking. And, it took me 25 years to overcome a trauma that originated in my second year at De Rietveld. We could choose six-week programs of one day a week in which we could explore a certain department or study. I choose the most free-est art department, which I think was called “Autonoom” (autonomous).
And here it was where the seed of my painter dream started and ended in a single moment. The lady who managed the department was notoriously critical about whatever was produced. I like that and I expected nothing more than a scoffing and shaking of the head. So I was free, free to do whatever I wanted as, in my mind, I had failed already anyway.
But she complimented me and asked me to switch to her department. I froze and it took me 25 years to thaw at the dawn of a Finnish winter. Nothing more I would have wanted to say -yes- to her and thank her for the compliment. But she took away my freedom by allowing me to be me. It is not her fault, not at all. She won’t even remember me.
This was the turning point to become the painter and to understand what freedom is. To be a painter is to be fearless and not care about other people’s opinions. I listen closely to what people say but hardly so when it comes to my paintings. To paint is to fight for freedom masqueraded by colourful butter-like substances. At every stroke there could be this voice that says, “oh yes, this looks beautiful, keep going, keep going.” Or the opposite but both are the bricks that over time construct a prison cell around you.
To be a painter is the most difficult job and the easiest job at the same time. As long as you don’t care about anything else but the painting you work on. Even more succinct, nothing matters more than the current brush stroke. Every next brush stroke could be the brick, or, a step closer to freedom.
I paint because I want to know what I see. I do not paint to reproduce reality, that cannot be reproduced and I cannot be bothered either.
I paint because I want to understand how I see. I do not paint because I think I understand reality or see it correctly. I think reality is beyond my understanding.
I paint because I like to mix paint and apply it onto a surface. The smooth buttery substance, it is simply delicious.
I paint because I learn about myself, a lot. I learn about my fears, my insecurities, my passions, my progress.
Above all, I paint because it is about me and my best chance to explore who I truly am and be free. Most of this also applies to why I take photographs.