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Arrival

'Arrival', in progress.
Back from Sydney I wanted to 'stitch' a figure. I never liked hard materials like stone or diamonds, even clay and bronze are hard and heavy. In the seventies I wanted to make the 'Twelve apostles', a group of figures in their burial clothes. I ordered a tonne of clay and started molding these figures on a table. Life size. Then for more precise shapes I'd cut with a knife parts of the clay body into whatever I wanted it to be. 'Arrival', sketch, in progress. Now I sketch on a bed sheet, more guessing than anything else and start by sewing together the bits and bodies. Having lived in Portugal surrounded by marble mines and hence a few sculptors forever smoking their pipes while belting the living daylight out of a piece of Michaelangelo, I asked these guys 'Arrival arriving', photo by Clemens Vermeulen. to find some footings for my babies. If you are interested please click this button and I'll show you my shocking Ladies. And their foot bases. Cut, stitch and dip in paint and sun dry. I knew I was back in the Tropics. I will add to this bit 'till I am happy. With sculptures, and I am a painter, I must have the classical imagery piled up somewhere. The beautiful marble footings. Also I like it to have a pole to lean against and imagine it standing on a polished desk in a swanky office, the Oval Office, why not? Too big maybe? Don't laugh, a US president always had 'Man on Horse', by a famous American artist, in the background. He also was that actor's favourite artist. The cowboy, cannot think of his name. Croaky voice and he died of smoking too many cigarettes. Not Clark Kent but... Wells Fargo comes to mind and I think he was President of the Rifle association in the States. The artist was Harry Jackson. I remember the actor: John Wayne. We'll see where this baby takes me. Watching the news on BBC or SBS I feel I am witnessing something very 'big'. Not only are we hearing about credit crunches, oil prices and now the insane attack on Georgia by the Russian Republic.The Olympic Games In China. Is our planet Earth rumbling its bowels? Do too many pipes run through Georgia? I'll stick to my work. Clemens had read somewhere a dog needed a new home. We went to pick him up. He is one year old and has English Springer blood and a very boisterous black and white, full to the brim of energy pup. He came with the name Angel. Michael Angelo? phb

My new babies

'The first Tomato Babies', photo by Clemens Vermeulen. Yesterday I left Sydney after six lovely days at Kevin and my sister Margaretha's and I met the new grand niece, a beautiful big eyed baby Nina. So tiny at two months. So helpless but secure. Unconditional love, for sure. I looked into her beautiful blueish eyes. The Ego was still aglow and a mother's reflection. The dimple under her tiny nose was profound and we all know it is the finger imprint of her guardian angel. When Nina arrived safely on Earth the angel said: 'this little baby I will be with forever...' I am sixty-tree years old and still can feel the occasional brush of a feather. Sometimes I can even hear a flutter of wings I am sure. Are we humans born as amateurs? I have no doubt nor embarrassment in knowing that I am an artist. I prefer the term 'painter', but I must have started as an amateur. I hate to think about it too much but I know two or three people called artists that I think of as amateur after years of painting. Conversely there is a self-proclaimed amateur whom I call an artist, nietwaar Suze? But what is the difference? If things can be thought of in a triangular shape like: I stand here, you stand there and the third position is covered in a bi-focused fashion. What I mean is what I see, you see. And in the third position we see both sides. I can only be happy with my own painting when all my senses are satisfied. When the painting is finished something is separated from me. I do indeed look at it as if it is my new baby. Probably, my new painting doesn't need a guardian angel. They look after the amateurs and their paintings. Is this maybe the difference between an amateur and an artist? And my friends, artists, Roeland Zijstra and Ruth had their baby , de kleine prins Hepke. In the plane I reminisced about my remarkable family who, in their kindness treat me like some eastern Peacock prince. All colorful feathers. Images of my own guardian angel, maybe? But I am back home. In the far northern tropical part of Australia and at home my guardian angel can go and have a long deserved sleep. As I am not alone. The Eskimo is back, Jill! The tomato plant had also given birth to two blood red tomato babies. And my walk to infinity continues.With a warm heart. Just a thought. When two people are in love, where are their amorphous angels? phb
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The warm Eskimo in my Sanctum Sanctorum

'Sanctum Santorum, acrylic on canvas, 900x900.
Yesterday I woke up with what I jokingly call my 'post natal depression'. The colours in my head were red, orange, pink and black.

I am going on a trip tomorrow. To Sydney. The distance from Cairns to Sydney is more or less the same as from Exeter in the UK to Tripoli in Tunisia at a cool 2400 km at 32,000 feet.

Or from Amsterdam to a sunny spot on the coast some 184 km south of Istanbul in Turkey.

Makes me think of the many many times I flew Amsterdam to Lisbon (1861 km) and back. The Terena village taxi would be waiting for me at the airport. Senhor Ignacio, the taxi driver, often had some villagers with him who may have needed medical attention or made a visit to a grandchild in Lisbon.

In those days I'd go somewhere, only to come back to want to go away again, even further.

Now I painted the place to come back to. And the painting will be hanging where I rest my head at night.

It's never cold in the Igloo for this Eskimo, remember?

In Sydney, I will meet the very last addition of my colourful family, Nina Shirlaw, daughter of Abigale and David, daughter in law and son of Kevin and Margaretha Shirlaw, brother-in-law and sister of Norman and Sally Bakker, my brother and sister-in-law, parents of Angela, Vanessa and Jeremy, cousins of Jenny, our actress Deborah and x-box enthusiast Peter Woodley-Page, son of Ursula and David. Nina Shirlaw is great grand child number 8 or 9 to my parents Joan and Arie Bakker, grand parents also of my daughter, the soprano Renate Arends.

Who thinks we are not tribal.

I've been in Cairns now more than 9 months. It feels like it was a successful pregnancy. Looking back over the work I have done here I cannot hide a smile; all these births. Natural or cesarean? A smile of gratitude. Not only the paintings. But having arrived where I know I am to be.

I had nothing to do but start a painting with the colours I woke up with this morning. A 'Going away' painting about the before mentioned (yesterdays writing) Sanctum Sanctorum.

I did it with the speed of lighting. Finished, varnished and given a fresh new cot.

I'll be back.

phb.

Suddenly I saw Vincent

'van Gogh', acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200. Today I finished a painting very much like ‘The Yellow Tree’. In shape and size but totally different in feeling. Certainly the colours are darker. What sets me of? Often I start painting an empty room, as in this one, and have a way in the canvas to go to the left-hand room or the room at the back. Empty spaces and I add a few things to give me the shits. I make a clean geometric space and cause havoc. Then comes the clean-up. Then maybe the associations . Like this one next. In the left top corner I suddenly saw something ‘van-Goghish’, the colours and the dots for stars. Anyway, my own mind came to mind and that gave the painting a few meanings to direct me. Van Gogh and my Inner Sanctum. And my feeling of wellbeing, all lend a hand to the hand who holds the brush to paint the hand. But if I tell you sometimes things about my painting, like the Vincent thing, in a way I am directing your mind, or redirecting maybe. I mean, the way you look at my piece. My piece of mind. Art books are the funniest books when it comes to directional writing at times. The pomposity and deep down delving of the poor artist and his models. Keep imagining baby! It is so lovely when the mind goes on its little trips. I like to delve in some of the parts of my last picture. 'van Gogh', ausschnit.‘Where can I build my dream studio/house?’.’ What does Clemens think?.’ I have always imagined my mind to be a huge sphere- like space, maroon coloured walls with way up against the ceiling a ramp built so hundreds of librarians/bookkeepers/nurses and other lifesavers are looking up things I need to know or remember. Tell me when to pull up my socks. Keep the place tidy because God might pop in. Don't forget to clean your teeth. I sit on a chair with my tiny side table on my right side. On it an empty ashtray, a bottle and a siggie and a lighter. In front of this cinemascope window I look out at Earth. I can zoom in and visit, for fun, my grave site. On the tombstone I’ll have had engraved: …BUT VISIT MY WEBSITE:..... Then I float on to wherever. Hang on!!! That is incorrect because that sitting in a chair is only after I have left Earth. Now when I walk around and move things or sit in front of the television, inside I am standing and hanging on my inner ears. Something like that anyway. The last painting was done entirely outside in the bright sun. On the most beautiful grass lawn. As I am bare footed this green lush stuff makes walking around with a paintbrush or cup of coffee a pleasure. It is truly ticklish and sensual. Our grass is covered with little blobs and dots of my paint. All colours and I wonder if this confuses the bees. We have a beehive in the garden anyway. How important is it to man to have a feelgood thing with the Earth he is standing on? As a spoilt member of this world, the piece of Earth I am standing on is only supportive. It is not a piece of land I look at in fear for a landmine. Or in lust for gold. Or to sleep on or make love. Is it dry and can it make bread? Who owns the land. As a kid, maybe 13, I already used to smoke a cigarette or two , a Lucky Strike, we lived in Abadan, Iran, and once I went with Jabba, the houseboy as he was called then, to the bazaar to buy bread and to get to the shop Jabba, a handsome young man with two wives and eight children, well four at least, had to push his way to the counter and push away poor beggars, the lame, the blind and the insane. Begging for bread. Today this is a daily picture on the tv. But the bread is many, many times the price. phb Now relax with 'Stary, stary night' by Don McLean illustrated by Vincent van Gogh. Lyrics in Portugese:

Last painting- for today

'Last Painting- for today', acrylic on canvas, 900x900.
I told you before we buried the pussy under the banana tree and on the actual place a potato vine is growing and looking very well and strong. I imagine (as a painter of roots ) the tentacles under the ground growing and worming their way through the earth and through pussy.

So when the banana tree pops its fruit next time, will I eat the fruit? Will I think the fruit has our pussycats flavor?

This canvas is again in a way a good-bye to a period of time. I used several familiar figures. The little flying lady is back and my usual notations on the canvas and as always the sign I have tattooed on my groin, a word written in my secret writing I have used since I was 7 or 8 years old. Also a few comments on where, how and why.

But getting back to the banana tree and its fruit. It is like a painting in a way. Like the banana, my canvas is also carrying the traces of a cat.

Tattoo
When I am in a dreamy mood, when I cannot sleep or simply am speedy, I imagine my ideal dream studio. It has a polished cement floor (Daniel's Hiperfloor) and a view to kill. Huge and stacked to the rafters with beautiful virgin Belgian canvasses, all 1200x1200 and all the Swiss Lascaux paint I need.

But all this only if I don't have to be alone.

I am not... :-)

phb

wednesday 2 July 2008

TwoFace sillouette

This day we had to bury our cat Twoface. She was killed by a big dog. Too quick, for sure. It was a horrible battle and I saw the light go out of her eyes. I only have once before, with my beloved Diena, had the 'Death experience', but I do remember looking into eyes that didn't look back. Ears that didn't hear me anymore. Hands that didn't feel me anymore.

Anyway, lately I have this theme in my paintings. The unknown, the dark, because of the lack of Light, a little inviting but not much.

At this point in time, this supremely happy time, never the less, the last thing I want to know about is how I'd handle another situation involving death. Let alone handle pain.

Painting these scenes with the roots, literally crawling up or down, are still worrying me. I worry whether I am handling such a heavy subject a little superficially. Getting off on pretty colours and unexpected shapes.

Well. pussy is buried in the garden under the banana trees.
And she's on the yellow canvas.

phb
'Yellow Tree Plus', acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200.

Who's there?

'Who's there?', acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200
Who! not 'what is there?'. This painting was made during some turmoil. Normal stuff: 'Do I want to be alive?', 'What's up there?' etc., etc., etc. Why paint? That is so terrible easy. I paint because I love doing it and I am not very good at much more. This painting started with all the emotional splashy painty stuff, with little memories and feelings, and then the Wehrmacht comes in and 'places' shapes and forms on the surface by cutting them out first, the shapes I'm talking about, and then 'tamponeren', dabbing them on with paints and shablones. Then again when it all looks too tidy splish plash. Sure that was a song some time ago. Well, I live now, 2008, so I'll pop over to Youtube and look the song up! Bobby Darrin of all people. Just some time ago I saw for the second time the film about his life with for me, no doubt, one of the most dedicated and through and through actors around, Kevin Stacey. But hell, I'm writing about the painting: 'Who's there?' An added thing is the canvas I bought at a cheap shop called Overflow ( nicest staff in town, love 'm) is so terribly skew-whiff it confuses the mind!But then again, I did drag the poor painting around the garden en hosed it twice to get the 'unpredictable' affect. Whatever ones thoughts are about The Unknown, The Inexplicable, The Infinite, surely we simply know Something is buzzing around, or not? I most certainly didn't know what I was doing. I just did it. Last night I hung the painting on the wall in our living room, as I do every night with what I am working on, and had a good look. Clemens sayd something nice:' The flowers stood their own right against the dark back ground. Jeremy Bakker, my beloved nephew and fellow painter, remarked that I was painting another tree, no? As I was saying, last night we were having a look. A cup of coffee and a siggie (bad,bad,bad- hate those adds on tv about smoking)( so try the other smoke, no?) and again I started to think about actually going into that painting. With my mind ofcourse. I am not completely mad.But I don't want to do that. Nor do I want to know more, understand more. I have once written that as long as nobody can explain infinity, we shouldn't ask too many questions. Lets face it, if I knew what would happen etc etc etc. But to paint is my personal flirtation with the unknown.

Cats don't think about paintings

Paul and 'Who's there', acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200. Photo by Clemens Vermeulen.
Some time ago I had come to the conclusion the world was much 'smaller' then before. Because of e-mail via the internet, multi functional mobiles, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, XTube, etc., etc. Shit, writing a letter is now 'snail mail'.

People go to sleep at night thinking: 'well, I have contacted more than one hundred people today. I sent so many coffees, pokes, kisses and hugs and I hope that tomorrow all my friends will have answered me. Sent me many Martinis.'

It's like The Reader's Digest all over. A shortened version of a great book made even greater because all can read it without deep moral or religious dilemmas. Like half a painting? And Reader's Digest publishers don't even try to bind that tiny magazine in a way it can open easily. Like a forbidden book.

But the distances have stayed the same. Speed is the big difference. I had a look at Youtube today and as a joke I tapped in a name of a singer from the 60's, a singer who called herself 'Singer without a name' (Zangeres zonder naam)(click on) and it made me cringe. Yes, for sure, everybody has his or her story and wherever you go in the electronic world the supply is endless. It makes me want to just give up a little.

TwoFace. Photo by Clemens Vermeulen.
It pisses me off that I am asked daily by Facebook if I am trustworthy. I must look now at my Facething as so many people write now via these outlets. And I feel guilty if I don't send something on to you all to save some life somewhere somehow.

E-Bay is another thing I don't know much about but I went to the Paintings section and many of the paintings are 'Made in China', for sale at the best offer. Or something like that.

Why am I complaining? I am having a battle with my Muze. Working on this painting, here above, and it just sits there staring at me. And the cat is staring at me. Or the cat is staring at the painting thinking.... Oh come now, cats don't think about paintings.

phb

 'We met online'.

P.S.

After all the above: The painting is finished, was finished but the umbilical cord hadn't been severed!

Tropical Meetings

'Tropical Meeting', acrylic on canvas, 500x700. I have been obsessed with meeting new peoples of cultures I am still ignorant of. Manners and etiquette are so important to new cultures first contact. Imagine you are invited to have dinner at Buckingham Palace. You would try and not make too many mistakes. It would be important to know if you are having dinner with Elizabeth Rex or her footman, no? Why? You want to make sure your tribe is recognisable. Not to feel like a pork chop in a synagogue as I once heard. I had a dream some time ago, in Armidale, NSW, in 2007. I entered a large house. A grey stone house and had to get to the attic. I ran through a room full of people. Like a cocktail party. Indira Gandhi was there too. As I ran to the back of the house I passed a door into a very large space. All wooden floors and brown/greenish colours. I was aware somebody else was there too but I wasn't intrested in knowing who. I ran up a small wooden flight of stairs and in the attic I saw a double bed with a kitten and a puppy. I tidied the room up. The 'other' was in the attic now too. I took the puppy and he took the kitten. As I left the attic I thought for the first time: 'who is he?' He spoke, but told me not to forget to turn off the lights. Asshole. I finally looked him in the face and it was me. Myself. Me/him with a kitten and me with a pup. I walked up to him and kissed him on the mouth. He tasted like licorice. I thought: 'I want to taste that again.' so I did. 'The Rooms', acrylic on canvas, 3000x1000. But the important thing was I liked myself. Better than not, no? I painted not what I had seen but only empty rooms. I was going to put in bodies later but so many people like the painting empty as an ode to perspectives. Some day I might put two bodies in the painting, kissing or not? But why was I so weak to leave the painting as it is? Because I wanted to please? Let's face it: two 'identicals' kissing would be too much maybe? As a teenager, I worked in an Indonesian restaurant kitchen as a 'help' to one or other of the all female team of chefs (kokkies in Indonesian) and the old girls would habitually embarrass me by touching my 'giggle' places. You know, slapping on your bum etc. Also, never touch edible food with your left hand. In Portugal you are always offered of the food the person has. A Shepperd cannot eat without 'permission'. Asked and granted. Nothing special but imagine the first meeting of the Indians and the Spanish. Or the Australian Aboriginal and White Man. Smell is one thing and dress or the lack of it another. Bodies are all decorated with some recognisable sign to members of the same clan etc., etc., etc. I saw a clip on Australian TV made by bunch of young and sexy Aboriginal dancers from the Northern Territory. Tall, skinny and black with white painted patterns. To start with you see a nice 'mob' of bodies moving in a way you would expect. Then these clever guys introduce 'European' movements and some are so recognisably the 'fat drunk white man' or the 'silly empty headed disco movers'. It is so good and so terribly funny I hope you can click on the link and have a look on YouTube. I have learned from these guys a fresh look on looking! Click here: Zorba the Greek Yolngu style The painting above I made a few months ago and is entitled simply a 'Tropical Meeting'. But these guys know each other. I was telling Clemens I feel I see the world moving in front of my eyes but I am sitting on a fence. I feel I can see history in the making but I am more than ever impressed we have so many people, thus so many ways of looking at something, anything. Even the big GOD thing, we all have our opinion, some people like to form a group of so called likewise thinkers. Same with painting. I don't know if I belong to anything but the 21st Century. Don't know but please have a look at the dancers. phb

The Blues

Les at work

'The Blues', in progress.I started this the other day and then it rained. I thought: I want to paint humans and trees. When I started Lenny the kid wanted to help. I want a few figures but will build it up slowly. I know: the Tree is there.

My friend and colleague Roeland Zijlstra (click) does many portraits, something I have always been afraid of. To have an actual human sit or stand in front of you and wait to see the result is scary. Did I do his dick ok?
Roeland has told me over the years to just do it. So will I paint recognizable figures in or around the tree? Think not yet.Anyway, I've run out of pink.

Last night on the BBC news they showed us people huddled in temples around Burma. To think so often over the centuries the temple, church, synagogue or mosque is the place of safety. No wonder they were built with strength. Sure they don't need a painting.
We used to sleep or 'do an over night' in Rangoon on our way to Jakarta.

Had my usual threats from Facebook writers. IF I don't send something on I will suffer pains in seven days. And don't forget the sender wants proof! And a KISS and a COFFEE and don't forget the POKE.

I cannot get you to send my page on? I was voted TRUSTWORTHY by two people.

phb

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