Photo caption left: From canvas to coffee table book - ready for the cut. Right: The coffee table books.
Looking around my studio I see again and again a number of large paintings against the wall, all 120x120 cm.
All without a purpose in life. A little shameful really. I had given them so much attention at the time and now they are like an abandoned child or a school kid with his face against the wall.
It isn't the first time I write about our daily walks with the dogs through our most beautiful tropical park. The colours, the greens and the reds and mad bright blue berries blown all over the cement footpath and with the daily rains or not and the graffiti on the path, very enlightening about the kids, I imagine these slabs to be huge big paintings only fit for the top galleries in London and New York. So that bit of the walk I call the 'Madison Avenue Strip'. So terribly sophisticated. Further on we have the 'Queen Elizabeth walk', I called it so because I wish I could wake up there . And have my morning coffee. Elizabeth, just for comfort, my era.
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But not only the beautiful colours attract my attention but also the little branches fallen from the trees the cut up pieces of wood that look to me so human. As long as I can remember I have always seen trees as people diving into Mother Earth. Often I can even see the sex of the diving person. Or tree. Sometimes pregnant.
Now I am actually making little figures out of these findings and they are so cute. So lovely to work with.
I never knew that a piece of wood has five different skins, I leave the piece in the sun for a day, hanging with other bits with all the same huge karmic change: they will become an object to please humans.
Little bits of wood all dressed up with new black paint smothering their nudity.
But writing about this slightly abstract subject is futile because I can show you a few photo's.
Photo caption: Bodies fallen from trees. More bodies in the Sculpture Gallery
I have also thought I don't want to paint any more. Next I'll be 65 years old, surely 20 more than I had ever thought.
Painting a picture, from your mind or from life, is always for someone, some body, to see. To look at. One needs that other person to legitimise the visual.
I am sure nobody is waiting to see the next painting, the painting to be made for the entire world to see.
No, I don't think so.
So what to do with the paintings I have?
I will cut them up into small pieces and make booklets out of them.
The last time I had this problem with too many paintings and me wanting to move on was in the Azores, on the island of Santa Maria. I lived on this island for a year in 1973, I had so many paintings that I decided to burn them in the orchard at the back of the house.
I still believe I caused the first chemical pollution on the island as it smoked to terribly.
Now I walk around and see huge trees and I see the beautiful bodies they have and I know I CANNOT chop them up for my statues. But they are getting bigger. My statues, but also my desire to make a life-size figure....
Today I started on two pieces of wood, 60 cm high, and they will be a couple.
I'll tell you more later.
Photo credit: 'La tumba de Tut Ankh Amon' by obokaman_com. Source: flickr.com
At the moment we hear allot about King Tut Ank-Amon- the Egyptian golden mummy. Apparently he died of Malaria, had a bad back, cleft pallet and maybe a club foot.
But he was of the highest blood, his father and mother shared the same blood pool. You must imagine they truly believed they were everything and all around them was nothing. What a way to get up in the morning.
I believe they knew that if the match worked it was great, in their sense Great, God-like Great, if not, it died or was helped to die by the priests. Generations were being manipulated like that for sure. No short cuts.
But what these Egyptians leave us is beyond belief. I, as Clemens does also, believe these creatures, this culture came from somewhere else.
I visited the Pyramids of Giza on my way back to Europe, now quiet a few years ago. I stood in the King's burial chamber with that huge and empty stone coffin. In silence. Suddenly I could hear another tourist in the ante-chamber freaking out. Vomiting and peeing. Probably shitting himself too. Poor man, but we left the chamber and I walked forward down the tunnel, foot for foot. When I reached the exit and saw all the sun I was blinded for about 20 minutes. Thank you Pharaoh Tut.
But I do fantasise that I was a painter of colours during their illustrious time. Ta Tut....
And now I am happy on a journey where wood, branches and sensual shapes are on my mind.
And getting bigger?
I have been running around in circles for some time.
When I am stuck or frustrated by a painting I simply put down the brushes and pick op the needle and make a figure, or this time, a lump of pink slabs of maybe flesh.
Cut of old sheets then stuffed with fibre.. Life size and will hang it in the tree with the other 'second' class citizens.
They are my 'bad conscience' I think: The fear that I might be sacked as a recipient of 'Orders' from Above. OUT of under the God's bed. Out of the company of all other artists, eunuchs, slaves and hermaphrodites who sleep under God's bed. Of course I don't believe this but it gives shape, colour and substance to the idea I wrote about before, for Heaven's sake !!!
I have wanted to do this portrait of C., the guy I know from when I was just five or six. Living in scary Java, where nobody seemed to like us. Then Iran, where nobody seemed to like us either. After Iran on to Holland, where they noticed we were not wearing clogs. Now in sunny Queensland where I still feel often the white man. Or the pink man.
Anyway, I asked C. if he could give me some time to pose for me in the back garden. Sunny and stark naked.
I started to plop him on the canvas. A few rough outlines and 'full stops', the navel, the nose, the eyes, the nipples, his knees and the penis.
But I knew it immediately: the spirits were mucking with my head. I didn't know at the time they were turning my head around.
The small body was in fact my daughter Renate who I asked to lie on the floor with a sheet over her so I had a 'model'. Renate wasn't afraid at all as she knew how it had started. The life sized bodies I made out of clay she quiet happily sat on while talking to me. She knew it all started with lumps of clay. Lumps of clay that end up looking like dead bodies in the eye of the beholder.
I did these things as I thought I was so afraid of so many things I'd make the creepiest of all things and as the maker, I couldn't scare myself. I would be without fear. I was even scared living on my own in the 'big' city of The Hague. I had just arrived back from one year on Santa Maria, Azores, were nothing could harm one.
If I have to describe myself psychologically, I'd say I am a man with angsts. Fears. I am afraid of heights, sharp objects, cats, dogs, teenagers and dentists, to name a few.
I am afraid of rejection and I always thought I was dumb. As a young person I had totally accepted the idea I was mentally retarded. I couldn't read very well and hardly spoke the languages I was meant to understand. I remember asking my mother: 'Mum, do I speak English good?'.
by David Leigh, POL magazine, published by Gareth Powell, 1975
Paul Bakker's sculptures arouse unwilling curiosities, stir religious antagonisms and demand forthright reactions. Which is quite understandable as they rather resemble a row of tightly swathed and tied corpses awaiting transportation to some mass grave-yard.
They lie in their square, shallow coffins, fixed in attitudes of either violent or peaceful death. Their stilled faces still contain a trace of remembered life, their limbs contorted in the death spasm.
The Smile gets up at 6 am. To let Angelo have a pee.
I thought about that and tried to find my Responsibilities.
Not under my bed, I looked.
What and where are they?
I don't have to worry about getting kids to school, the rent is paid automatically out of my automatically deposited pension and the garbage is taken away once a week, also automatically. Normal and recyclable garbage.
When I was living in Portugal, in the eighties, on a farm in the Alentejo we had no running water, no electricity, no bathroom, no telephone or television. I had a battery powered world radio receiver, that's all.
Kerosene lamps whose chimneys had to be cleaned every day before lighting. And a dog to feed.
An 800 meter walk to the boundary fence where once a week a taxi would be waiting to take me to Elvas, a border town with Spain. For shopping.
So there my responsibilities were obvious.
Strange as it may sound and some people at the exposition hearing me might have thought me rude/stupid and insensitive, was, that I didn't understand his work. But it more than intrigued me.
He had a small bottle filled with all the 'fullstops' cutout from a Stephen Hawking, d.o.b 8/Jan/1942 book.
In the middle of the room stood a pillar and around it and crawling up the pillar were hundreds of his own thumb-prints in wax. Every morning he'd dip his thumb in a bowl of wax and keep the imprint. Or is that an out-print?
I shocked a young couple when I asked them if they could eat one. Why did I ask that? Because it was so terribly personal and edible.
Another work looked like a very 'normal' modern work of art. As I commented in my blog some time ago (I do so hope Jeremy understands I am coming from a corner of admiration)( I am sure he does) and where it has been reproduced.
Don't know what to say about the picture.
But I do like it very much.
It is a final painting of its kind I think.
I used my little symbols, the pussycat, the crosses and the yellow flower.
The teddy bear is waiting to be found.
In my script I wrote a few things only relevant to the time and mood I was in.
It is life size. The grey hand is an outline of my own hand and thus 1:1.
But what will the next step be?
What is so wonderful about a painting is it's nothing more than a piece of stretched canvas and it can invite you to such a wondrous world. It offers all or nothing or like it or not. Worse, you are not interested.
So the painting was a party piece?
No, I started to travel into the lines and patches of colour and saw all the irritations. Where help is needed.
Getting rid of these little buggers starts you talking to the Image and a certain game of respect develops and 'Í am the Boss' here. I suppose I am.
If you just read on you will understand who is the Boss between Painter and the Painted. Me, the Boss, the Brushes, God the Holy Father or maybe a knife.