Paul Bakker's blog

Little books

Lately I have been making little books again. I finished a few weeks ago a book with the title: Paul Bakker and Cats and just today a book with the title: Paul Bakker and Trees.
It is great fun as I went through all my paintings with cats and Trees.
I never knew I had done so many!
The Tree book is  12 pages plus cover .
I would love to send everybody a copy but the cast too much to print, not to think of postage.
However if you want one or more copies let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Now have a look at the pages and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do myself !!!
I am a little proud of them......

Outrunning cyclone Yatsi

Mark's Tree
Yesterday we got back from the south of Queensland.
We had done a runner from Cairns, Far Northern Queensland, as the Government advised ALL to flee..
The cyclone Yasi had been approaching.
So, as good and frightened citizens we hopped in the car and made a dash for the south.
Yasi decided to follow us. We went through a pretty beach place called Cardwell, abandoned for sure, windows taped up etc but it was quiet and peaceful. Our two dogs, loves of our life, traveling with us needed a break. Angelo, named after Michael Angelo, and Vinci, named after Da Vinci.
Cardwell was a very pretty place and we stood on the beachfront with a row of palmtrees.
We left and ten hours later it was devasteated. Same with Tully, further down..In Cardwell the beautiful row of palmtrees along the coast where we stood with the dogs were all gone.
We saw that devastation on our way back. Then came Tully, near Townsville.
We left and it was also hit in a mighty way. So sad.
We found ourselves at Mark's, Clemens eldest son and my godson. (Clemens is my friend from when we were 7 years old in Indonesia and later Iran and Holland. Then Australia !!!)

Canvas To Coffee Table Book and Bodies Falling Out Of Trees

From canvas to coffee table book - ready for the cut.From canvas to coffee table book.

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.

On My Path

Graffiti on Madison AvenueGraffiti Shadows on Madison AvenueRipe mangoes on Madison AvenueRain on our Path on Madison AvenueRed Leaves on Madison Avenue

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.

Black body 4Colour body 4Little manColour body 5Tango girlsTwo naked bodies

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.

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La tumba de Tut Ankh Amon by obokaman_com

Photo credit: 'La tumba de Tut Ankh Amon' by obokaman_com. Source:

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?


Two faces talking

'Two faces talking', acrylic on canvas, 1000 x 1000 by Paul Bakker.

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.

'My babies and I', acrylic on stuffed cotton by Paul Bakker.


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 !!!

Laurie Anderson video: O Superman

The portrait painting

'A Man and his Dog', acrylic on canvas,1200 x 1200 by Paul Bakker.
It sounds a little like a fairy tale or something worse, something from the Grimm brothers.

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.

Angst, the fear of being without courage?

Click to enlarge: Model Renate with bandaged Body, acrylic on canvas, life size
The painting shown here I did in 1975. It is of a man wrapped up in bandages and next to him the covered body of a child. Scary stuff? Absolutely; but not really.

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. Fearful man holding cat

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?'.


Responsibilities And The Portrait Of Dr. Mick

Portrait for Dr. Mick, acrylic on canvas, 600 x 900
The other day I was awoken, at 8 am, with a nice cup of hot sweet milky coffee (Nescafe) and a lovely smile. The Smile said: Gosh, you are so lucky to be without too many responsibilities.

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.

Cyclops in Melbourne

Cyclops in Melbourne, acrylic on canvas, 1000 x 1200
Last week I visited Melbourne. My nephew Jeremy Bakker was showing his work done for the finals of his Master of Arts at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology).

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.

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