People often ask me how I create my work. The most honest answer I can give is: it arises. I can probably tell you what I've done after the fact. Just like I know that each canvas has a number of phases.
My ideas have long gestation periods. Probably because of the organic way they come to me. It can take months, and sometimes years, before an idea has matured. Sometimes it starts with a dream, a painting from years ago, or a sketch. Often by accident. "The Devil”, a card that I pulled at a tarot session, triggered me into a period of exploration, painting and sketching. I made so many different versions it seemed like a logical reaction after the icons that I had been making up until then (an altogether different project!). The reason for painting "The Madonna" was a series of dreams I had over 10 years ago. Waking up, I could almost 'see' the finished painting in my mind's eye.
It would be many years before the magical images of the Madonna and the Devil evolved into the images I painted. Besides "The Devil" I painted two canvases about the female archetype of which "The Madonna" is one. The paint of these latter works is applied in increasingly transparent layers whereby the previous layers remain visible and resonate with the next layer. Like the layers of historical 'thought' that slowly accumulate and surround the rough, original female image lost in time, with a younger and culturally transformed version of herself.
The devilish form naturally connects to the allegory of temptation. The things we are tempted with on a daily basis: money, power, Eros and the lure of unseen things that tempt us in the night. The enormous primeval pterodactyls that takes the central place on the canvas represents the fire of the instinct, the animal, and the part inside us that seduces us to do things that feel good, but are not necessarily good as such. The form is more important than the bird itself. On a more personal level it symbolizes the hidden perfidy in society that manifested itself, in The Netherlands, in political events such as the death of Pim Fortuin and Theo van Gogh. Regardless of my own political views, it remains a fact that these men were demonized by many for their political and social ideas, and were never given the chance to prove their opponents wrong.
Those, and many others, are the thoughts that keep me busy when I'm working on images like these. Following them in a haphazard way, I let them bring me into a mood to work with specific colors and materials. The atmosphere creates itself and brings a certain topic, a particular image, to the light. Sometimes I use ink and other times acrylic paint or oil. In the Devil I have worked with pure pigments, oil, paper and pastel.
Looking back, I often notice that I have been tearing pieces of my own paintings, magazines or cloth because I 'knew' I was going to need them. Hell literally breaks loose when I lose a 'piece'. Has it fallen off? Did I loose it somewhere along the way? The process of tearing and pasting can seem random. But nothing is less true. In almost all cases it is the exact piece of a larger puzzle that fits perfectly.
At what point are you finished? A question people ask me from time to time. Well...like creative people everywhere, I can het caught up in the tangle of combining concepts with the conceptless, with intuition and impulse. So, going on for too long can be disastrous.
The Devil, 2014
It's like the snake under your bed you'd rather not look at, but which you have to confront. You have to look it in the eyes, have to talk about it. Just to make sure that it won't become a recurring nightmare.