Paul Bakker's blog

Haunted by Mondrian

Self portrait with bird (actually my psychologist M).

I must confess the Mondrian paintings I posted before are worrying me. If the man did such beautifully painted paintings, pushing his oil paints around the canvas to get that strange effect: semi realism, did he enjoy making it? That strange red and blue tower in a yellow dune landscape and then: Intellectualisms or 'religious' Fatalism.

As 'begeistered' or driven he might have been, did he ever miss the FUN? Did he give up something for a higher something? My last tree was painfully realistic yet I didn't paint it like that. It just simply happened. So I stared at a canvas yesterday. I made it as sweet, soft and suggestive as possible. Then I want to re-introduce some 'intellectualism. I will make an 'Ode to Mondrian's lost love'.

It is 3.38 in the morning and today I did nothing, just stared. And we had the cat's stitches removed from her tummy.
I rearranged my work table, all the shit on the left I moved to the right.

But I kept seeing this huge soft pink and yellow. This big fat pink canvass, using the smell of early morning. Wallowing in self contentment, if that exists. I'll show it what a Theo van Doesburg does on a lazy morning. Introduce it to something very political. Or maybe I'll go to the History Channel on Austar.
In progress stage 1, 080509.

Who do I want to share my 'Island' with?

Often I have this little fantasy: Who would I like on my 'Island', this imaginary place in the middle of the Atlantic, south of the Azores but north of Madeira. Well, NOT Mondrian. Nor Vincent van Gogh, not (even) Gauguin. Self obsessed bloody ego maniacs.

Mondrian died all alone of the flue because nobody dared to bother the 'Master' because he was creating. I must say his last works loosened up a little. Boogi-woogi something time. I think it would be practical if I shared the pillow with that 'person' in my imagination. Saves washing clothes. But I must have boxes of paints and reams of paper. Oh yes, and AUSTAR.
'Grey Tree' by Piet Mondrian.
Composition No. 10. 1939-42. Piet Mondrian. Oil on canvas. 80 x 73 cm. Private collection.
Piet Mondrian: 'Grey Tree' on left and 'Composition 10' on the right.

Three Trees at Sunset

'Three Trees at Sunset', acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200.
I know it is a tree again but I had this 'three trees' stuck in my face so I just did it, again. I'll get back to the 'Secret Meetings' or 'Angels Falling off the Edge of a Cliff'. Crawl back to the Pre-Raphaelites.

I spend a lot of time walking outside in the garden where I can work in the warm sun. I see the unbelievable beautiful colours of the sky and the big trees doing a silhouette. I know it's a little allegorical but then it simply IS beautiful.

When I was a student at the Royal Academy in The Hague somebody wanted me to meet this (famous) poet and his wife who had been friends with Piet Mondrian, our hero. We were expected to admire him as the Great Artist of that century. I loved his 'old' work too, but didn't say too much. Not the 'hip' thing to say then. He painted trees along the Gein river near Abcoude.

Anyway, he was walking with this lady, the lady who was treating me like a poor hungry student, in Paris around 1935. He saw something very beautiful and remarked that to her. 'But, Piet, you just told me beauty is immaterial, not spiritual enough'. He had just become a little involved with Madame Blavatsky, the Theosophist. Piet Mondriaan answered:'Oh yes, beauty is nothing'. And he walked on to New York where he died in 1944 at seventy something.

I loved the academy. The late sixties. Rembrandt's 'Night Watch', our teacher Ootje Oxenaar told us,'should be cut up and made into place mats'. 'Ja Meneer Oxenaar'.


Mother's Day, e-mail to nephew.

'Other Mother', acrylic on canvas, lost or destroyed.
Happy Mother's Day, give the mothers a kiss.

Mother kisser!!! Mother kissers!!!

And me? I have no mother or father and thus I am an orphan.

But I don't live in an orphanage.

You see, told you so, first time, when you grow up it all changes. No orphanage for you, mate. Find another mother. Think about it.

The 'M' is the 'mummy'

Motherkisser walking around looking.

Looking for another mother.

What if you don't want that? I don't, do I? Must talk to Sigmund.

'Oh mother, I can feel the sign falling over my head', Jeff Buckley swoons.

Like painting Nephew.

You still have that searching and proving thing. That is a prerequisite. As avant-garde as I could I would want to be. I have lost the control and the power has taken over and put me in a nice and comfortable place.

Maybe the orphanage for nearly dead painters. I stand in front of a canvas and ask; 'what am I to do?'.

This must sound strange to you. Maybe a little depressing for your ears. It is not. You are on the way, on your way. I don't feel I am traveling anymore. I am not going from A to B but I do have that slightly embarrassing need to show off my work 'cause what else do you do with the Motherkissers?'. My babies. So am I the mother of my work?

Anyway Nephew, this is so typical, I have just finished a few things and now have this post natal feeling. So, yes, I must be the mother. The Mummy.

I'll wake up and there are dirty nappies and soft toys to be picked up.

See you soon. Please send me all the info on your coming exposition. Loved the dots, full stops (see, I told you so)(second time).

Day After The End

'Three Trees'.
Yesterday I said I'd like to see the three Tree paintings together and Clemens was kind enough to make a photo. I'm behind the canvasses plus two gargabe cans. Started today on another. No idea where I'm going. Yellow, red, pink, black and some soft background colour.


Day Five: The End

Brown Tree, acrylic on canvas, 1200x1200.
Now to start I need ten words or something. No, I need more. I had only nine, now I have 20. Living with computers. I'm not even going to try and explain this...

I finished, finally, the 'Green Tree'. A nitpicker may question me and ask: 'Where's the green.'

At first I wasn't happy with the painting. It had lost all its fluffiness and confusion. But then I tidied up the background a bit and minimized the trunk and; 'Bob's your uncle'.

I am very happy. I would like to see the three Trees next to each other for a photo but will have to do that outside on a sunny windless day here in the tropics. Click on the photo's. Look at pussy. She's called Miesje. That's Dutch.

Brown Tree high against trees in backyard.'Miesje disarmed; I give up', photo by Clemens Vermeulen.

Day Four: looking in the cave

Heather Morseu came for a visit here in the house and she saw my new tree. She was very pleased and saw spirits. She saw a woman and she saw where her people had come from, at least a part of her tribe. It is fun. I had a good look at the area I call the cave. I imagine nothing nasty. I imagine a little like a fairy tale. In the other painting, the 'Burning Tree', it is best to keep your distance. I do have this liking to paint places where the eye can slumber or dream. So, bugger it, I started another splash of growth and now Heather really got going. Photo bottom is Heather Morseu, holding the 'Brown tree' I started painting today, actually yesterday.

The other photo fell on the floor out of an old album. In 1988. In Portugal, in Villa de Terena, I had just ended a short and funny 'relationship' with the lady who had bought my big house. Very much the case of if you sit in the chair long enough, you end up in bed. Her partner appeared one day from Lisbon. He looked a little like the Chilean dictator Pinochet. He came to tell me: 'Leave'. Me: 'I'm sorry'.

A bit later my nephew Dave Shirlaw was staying with me in the village in Portugal (I obviously didn't 'leave!'). Dave did a very bright red, blue and black explosion. I did the 'woman going'. Like she is shooting a carnival gun. I did it with a wicked pleasure.

The other is a drawing of the man in the Tree. I found his face and it could be a caricature of me!

For heaven's sake, click on the photos with your mouse. They should enlarge.

Interpretation of Green painting stage 3.Suzanna running, acrylic on canvas, 800x1000.Interpretation Green painting, stage3, 080429.Heather Morseu with brown tree.

Day Three on the green painting.

Interpretation of Green painting stage 2.  
The green painting is playing up. When I realized it was the same tree as the 'Burning Tree' it seems a little pathetic. It's big and fat and smelly and a loser... It looks at me in a provocative way. In fact, it's giving me the shits as I hang it when I am not working at it on the wall in the sitting room. So I tend to stare at it and it stares back, I swear!

But I still see the sitting man and also a dark and deep cave can be visited.

I did do a few green leaves in the right top hand corner. A bit piddly come to think of it. Tomorrow I'll have a deep and meaningful with the Tree and... don't know yet. Still think it a big fat smelly stump squashing an innocent man.

Wallaby with Work One and cousin.
(Walter Tabui Jr. Wallaby) with Work One and his cousin Lavinia Pitt. Photo by Clemens Vermeulen)

But then the little son of the Prince and a cousin came by and wanted to paint. So they did and it was lovely to see the two going for it. But in a way it is interesting to see we all have the same little problems when doing a painting. Whatever age we are.

Day Two on the Green Painting

Stage 2, 080427, Acrylic on canvas, 1300x1300.Yesterday I wrote something about Hell if I don't see any green. Later.

Now I see a dark tree. Desolate, but I know every inch. And I like it.

It does smell a little heavy but cool. I looks as if the light source is behind the trunk and it seems to radiate a little.

What would another see? Clemens says he'll wait before seeing anything definite.

Then I suddenly saw the sad figure with a bad tummy. I'll draw it and show you later.

Must get that bloody green going. Tiny little leaves in the top right hand corner?

Or turn it upside down! On its side, it is an arctic landscape with a sea view.

Then I also realized it is the same tree as in Burning Tree!

I must use some yellow. see you later.


day one

Stage 1, turned 90 degrees, 80427, 1300x1300. Stage 1, 80427, 1300x1300.
Today, 27th of April, day of the Portuguese liberation.

I couldn't get any large canvasses for a week. 130x130 cm, same size as the "Burning Tree'. Now I have a few again and thought I'd take daily photos. This beginning will end up green I think, I hope.

In the back of my mind I have done the painting. Now to bring it forward. Fast forward the process. Where is the knob? I think the thing is to get in the painting. I can see day light and I can see dawn. I see mist and cannot smell anything. Tomorrow I'll show you another photo. Whatever happens, Hell freezes over; I'll have some green to look at.

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