Enjoying Art (again): Ido Vunderink

Yesterday I visited the historical city centre of Woerden. The museum there shows an exposition by local artist Ido Vunderink. He’s an 80 year old who nowadays paints abstract Dutch landscapes and flower arrangements in bright colours:


vunderink

I was thrilled to discover his work, earlier that morning, while I was still in bed waiting for the cortisol to kick in and start the day. His art reminds me of my own work, when I was so very much inspired by Norwegian mountains and their running waters, and made art there, ten years ago:

Abstract shapes reminding you of something in the real world.
One dark colour, one light and two in between.
Bright, happy colours to lift the spirits in the dark days of Winter.
Intersecting lines, defining planes.
Planes connecting behind other planes.
Lines running beyond their boundaries. Reappearing.

Vunderink is exploring the same things I did! Playing with the same toys!
(Not saying we’re at the same level, I was just starting, he is a master.)

I never got to transport my muse to Holland nor did I manage to reconnect with my teachers at the Jeroen Bosch Academy and talk about any of this. I subsequently dropped out of art school and dropped out of health. I haven’t been able to make art since.

Ido Vunderink, Dutch artist
“Evening Light” by Ido Vunderink.
Is that a city scape whose rhythm extends into the sky above? Or are these tulip fields in the Netherlands? With the beach and the sea at the back. It’s whatever you like.

Viewing the works of a kindred artist, who finds inspiration here in Holland, today, fills me with tremendous joy. So, it IS possible to find things here that lead to the same playing field of art. This overcrowded, over-gardened piece of land DOES offer shapes to talk about large spaces and slow time and natural compositions.

The exposition was thrilling. I spend two hours there, sketching the works, examining them close-up, watching from afar, drinking in the colours and following Vunderink’s conversation about composition, colour, contrast. I felt like a fellow-artist and was very happy about it.
Untitled

For all the bursting colours and abstractions, this was nonetheless my favourite:

Ido Vunderink, Dutch artist
“Kruiken”. 2014. Ido Vunderink

The same subjects are still here: lines, shapes, planes, colours. But they all play closer to the chest. The abstraction doesn’t leave you guessing what’s portrayed although the painting is quite high so it’s more about vertical lines than it is about tall jugs.
The colours are similar to each other, you have to stand still and look at it for a bit to appreciate their differences and their interaction.

This painting is magical!
The undersketch is coming through, in purples and olives and intense yellow, while the planes themselves were made so thoroughly opaque and in these fantastic colours! The light and dark contrast is subtle but meaning full. The jug in the middle is the main player but it’s mates are brighter, except for the one at the most right.

Vunderink has signed his name in the wet paint, a lovely way to do that doesn’t interfere with the colours.

Yes. This is the painting I would love to own and look at for the years of my life left. In turn it lifts me up, makes me laugh, makes me contemplate, makes me silent, makes me curious, makes me investigate, makes me want to paint and it makes me … “carefree” is the word I guess.

I’m trying very hard to stay in that moment. To not think about making art myself, picking up where I left off. Not making ANY PLANS. Not thinking about either the future or the past. Not spinning any stories to put my life into some kind of perspective.
Reverse Therapy has me working hard in shutting up my chatterbox of a mind, that sock puppet with its running commentary:

Shut up muppet. We’re here to enjoy the moment. Living in/through the body.

The exposition is held in a very old building that’s very sympathetic with little windows and shutters and wooden winding stairs and hand cut details and little bricks. This added to my joy:
Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 18.39.48

Vunderink’s exposition here runs until the 10th of January.

a still life of lemons and art

Soon I will have to sit down and mark my limitations and sketch what forfilling life I can lead within their parameters. It’s now sinking in that I will not recover from ME more than I have. And that I’ve already lost some of that improvement. It hurts.

pic by Keith Syvinski

I can’t sit down now because I’m still in the turbulence of a hormonal week. My feelings are not my own. My thoughts cannot be trusted. I question life and everything. I hurt very deeply.
It’s a tiresome affair to manage. Because no matter how unjust these feelings are, they are still felt deeply. These emotions and thoughts are caused by chocolate bars I ate last week, one every day for six days. It may have been the sugar, it may have been the soy lecithin. Something caused too much estrogens in my brain and I’m totally of my rocker.

pic by Jeremy Hanke

I have to wait until this clears my system before I can sit down and deal with life.

One thing that confuses me is how true and profound the thoughts are that too much estrogens provoke in me. Thoughts about life, the essence of life, the existence of man, the meaning of mine. Paired with the strong feelings I cannot help but wonder if there’s not some truth to them. If they should not be addressed, thoroughly. But I know I shouldn’t while I’m still weird in the head. Time will once again prove that this is not me, these thoughts are not me, these feelings are not me.

I hope soon to sit down and converse with myself about the real things. The parameters and living within the limitation thing. In the mean time life goes on, every day.

Today I’m rewatching an excellent British documentary about painting stil lifes.
It resonates with some things essential in me. Some essence of me as an artist. Of me as a human. Of me as a Dutchman. And of me as a chronic ill person.
I cannot sort these into separate labels. They overlap. And have something to do with the meaning of life.
It’s confusing and exhilarating at the same time.

To name just a few subjects they touch upon, in no particular order and in now way conclusive:

DAILY OBJECTS
There’s talk about the importance of everyday objects in our life. Things you touch every day. Their colour. Shape. Texture. Handling. Weight. How they look in the different light throughout the day, throughout the year.

pic by Ruth Harris

You touch them every day. Your body communicates with them.
You see them. People are eye-animals, they revel in seeing things. When an object forfills its visual promise with an appropriate tactile experience perhaps even a smell, that’s simply heaven on just a common day. It’s what life, as a human, is about. In part.

DUTCH GOLDEN AGE
The explanation of how Dutch society got to get a Golden century in the 17th century when money was flooding into the country and everybody was buying paintings to decorate their houses with and also selling houses just to buy one single tulip bulb or at least own paintings of tulips. While there’s still a Calvinistic streak running through us chastizing us that we should not be vain or enjoy possession.

Ambrosius Bosschaert, the Elder “Tulips in a Wan-Li Vase”, 1619

This importance to enhance your living quarters. This persists right up to today where IKEA caters to this need and we all long for something that’s displayed in adverts of Nordic and Japanese interiors.
(It makes me think of one of my dear books about Mexican houses. With warm colours and bold materials and much art of local history)

Somehow your house, your room, your things tie you to your place in life. Your identity. Your time of living. To your country. Its history too. You take your place in your era and in your location as you decorate your living surroundings.

Pictures in your house do something. But only as long as you keep seeing them, as long as they don’t become invisible.

IKEA art by Mike Toy, prone to invisibility.

I think there’s a chance for a new kind of “pictures”. No longer the posters that you frame and hang. No longer the mass catering IKEA does. Something else…
Something that ties you, your soul, to a wall, to a room. And reflects you back to yourself.

THE ART OF PAINTING
Ahh, the talk of shapes and composition. How mainly in Western paintings the light comes from the left. The documentary proposes that this is because we read from left to right. But they do not offer non-western still life paintings that have light from the right.
I think it’s as probably we prefer light form the left because we like to face south in daily life. And then the sun rises on the left.
Light from the left reminds us of this promising event, when the day is still young and full of opportunities.

This talk of the mechanics of art make that I see its components all around me, right where I sit, here at this cluttered table with a funny lamp beside my laptop and a cup full of colour pencils.
I see shapes and textures. Compositions and directions. I love it. Having an artist eye makes that you are never bored. Even if you cannot sketch anything because you are too weak to hold a pencil.

art by Milton Avery

Well, there are many things in this documentary that make me happy. That provide me with beauty in thought and sight.

Isn’t that the weirdest thing, that one can hurt so at the core and have questioning thoughts about the essentials and be happy at the same time?

Here’s another picture of shapes and colours and composition but also a story. I think it’s beautiful! All the round shapes…

affordable art by CorellaDesign on Etsy

I’d like to do this very much. So much it aches. So much that I have not thought about this for years, because the hurt was too great.
Now I’m thinking about it again. Want to do this. But I am crippled. Crippled with ME but more so with something else. With life, I guess.
I hope to sit down soon and flesh it out. Find a way.

Here’s the description the BBC website had of the documentary:
Apples, Pears and Paint: How to Make a Still Life Painting
“A richly detailed journey through the epic history of still life painting, featuring a range of delights from the earliest existing Xenia mural paintings discovered at Pompeii to the cubist masterpieces of Picasso.

Awash with rich imagery of fruit, flowers and humble domestic objects, this lively take on the story of still life encompasses the work of some of the genre’s greatest artists from Caravaggio to Chardin and Cezanne. But it also captures the surprising contributions of the less well known, including asparagus enthusiast Adriaen Coorte and female flower painter in the court of Louis XVI, Anne Vallayer-Coster.

With contributions from historians Bettany Hughes and Janina Ramirez, art historians Andrew Graham Dixon and Norman Bryson, and philosopher Alain de Botton amongst others, it opens up the huge social histories that lie behind the paintings and the fascinating lives of the people who made them.”

Art: I saw The Mediterranean by Pierre Bonnard.

Yesterday I spend hours in Amsterdam. I walked the city, enjoying its history and current atmospheres. Capitals are such a delight, especially when you walk slightly off the beaten tourist track. See where the real people live.

I visited museum l’Hermitage, which is a Dutch dependance of l’Hermitage in Saint Petersburg in Russia. Thanks to the historical appreciation our two countries share, starting when Peter the Great came to Holland and admired our skill in building sea vessels.

It showed some works by Gaugain, Bonnard and Denis that usually are in Russia, in the magnificient Winter Palace.
I came for Bonnard.

Mediterranean by Bonnard

They showed Mediterrenean View. A tryptich commissioned by the wealthy Russian collector Ivan Morozov who fell for these painters when they were alive and painting. He commissioned Denis to illuminate his grand ball room. It was reconstructed in Amsterdam and I see why it was the talk of the town, back in the day.

Bonnards work is also large. Three canvasses about 2 m wide and 4 m high each. They were hung with two mock collumns in front, to mimic how it would have looked in the russian house.

I spend all in all an hour and a half in front of the painting. Thinking new things, seeing new things all the time. Colours, shapes, combinations, claire-obscure.
It was a lovely time.

My artist’ blood started flowing again.

PS there are some quirky things in this painting!

  • What’s the bright red and blue shed doing in the far right? Bonnard is all about pastels, why feel the need to insert these bright blobs?
  • Who in their right mind puts warm egg yolk yellow in the green lushes of a tree? Bonnard, that’s who. In the top of the middle panel.
  • The right panel has clear dark and light shapes playing against each other. The left panel does not however. Does that make this painting lob sided? If not, why not?
  • some parts have gotten no paint at all, the bare beige canvas is just showing. What guts to send it to a collector and declare it finished!
  • On the left, that’s his wife. Playing with a cat. Guts! And a cat nut. You’d be surprised how much paintings of Bonnard have a cat in them.

good days working: artist and writer

again it works, my idea of having one job per day.

yesterday I was an artist once more. I saw a piece of art on a wall in a tv series that fire started me -am I the only one?- and I took out my artist note book. It prompted sketches for wood block prints where you lose pieces of the wood during the print process. Combined with women figures. But people, you see. Who happen to be women. People with an inner life, an inner existence. Which cannot be determined because all we have is exterior and colours and paper and words.

The series was Dem Som Draeber, nr.6. In Thomas’ house.

Other series of which I recall wall art vividly are Dexter (in the house he and Rita lived in, there’s a flowery piece, mostly on the left side of the shooting frames. I love to remake it more boldly, with more distinquised blobs in more layers); Will and Grace (the portrait in their apartment. I always want to enhance its colours and contrast yet give it more subtleness and vulnerability)

The timing of these sketches was not as organized as I had imagined. In the morning, my ‘gold mine hour’ slipped through my hands when I collapsed after going nr. 2. (is this too specific? My bodily system cannot rebalance itself it seems after that natural thing. Nor after a shower. Or if you startle me (by sound or touch). I think it matters to notice such things because it gives a clue. Must have something to do with the Nerves Vagues, bloodpressure, intercellular pressure and electrolytes.)

Anyway, I spend the morning on the couch. The afternoon too. It was only late in the day that I got going again and then suddenly I was able to work on some art.

Today I am writing. Again, lots of circumnavigating such as surfing, writing here and making cups of tea. But still, I have written a bit on bacteria and I am enjoying the work. I’ll get back to it now.