A recurring motif in my work is the layering of images and I capture my world view in a kind of spekkoek (layer cake). A spekkoek is an Indonesian cake with interchanging baked layers of white and brown cake. It mirrors my work as diversity is a common theme. Both the richness of nature and the difference between Dutch and other cultures. I think that diversity and layering is much greater than the sum of the parts.
The confirmation of the importance of the interaction between my Dutch ‘responsibilities’ and my Indonesian’ self-evidence ‘, I got when I participated in 2010 in the, in my opinion historical,’ exhibition ‘Byond the Dutch’, Centraal Museum, Utrecht). All conflicting qualities that I saw in my personal life were addressed and visible in the exhibition. The way Indonesian art freed itself from the colonial period and developed into an independent, dynamic and appealing form of Asian art. The fact that Indonesian art is able to influence the world of art was strongly emphasised.
The restlessness that resulted from this led me to struggle with the modernist professional practice taught to me at the academy, which caused me to have difficulty coming to myself and to then produce a complete oeuvre in the studio.
In Yogyakarta, where I have been returning for over 24 years during the summer season, I found my place in a network of artists, musicians and theatre producers, who often work as a collective mix. Due to this network being highly diversified, I am influenced and able to develop new works.
My artistry has been influenced by my work as I have been a teacher for 30 years at AKV St. Joost in Breda. However, there are also times where I use my Indonesian experience in my works.
The open and broad way of looking, experiencing and working together in Indonesia leads to more insights and a wider perception of the inner and outer world.
In my work, different periods can easily be identified and distinguished. These different periods often overlap with the previous period and the period thereafter. From my sources of inspiration, within my materials I can make forward steps. The use of existing processes is what I find fascinating and is something that intrigues me. Working with others gives me inspiration and new insights.
During the first uneasy trip to the academy, I was overwhelmed by the different shades of green. After returning, I started painting landscapes with these idea’s as an ode to emphasise the importance of preserving the diversity of nature. My starting point was that we are dependent on nature and should take care of it all together.
After traveling through Pakistan and India in the western Himalayas, I became even more aware of the importance of biodiversity. The crops in this region were watered and operated at high altitudes with very old irrigation systems. I literally got sucked into the Himalayas. Nature is so powerful there. The locals are able to use their old agricultural skills with old techniques when using original, unmodified seeds.
Back in the studio, I painted the mountain landscape with the small fields in it. I was able to capture the landscape in perspective and depth. I painted it in layers and strips almost like a geological spekkoek. At these heights I lost sight of the top and bottom, but in the distance the small strips of farming were represented.
During the travels through Pakistan, I saw women in a burka, like ghosts in the street and this made me realise how incredibly free I actually was.
After my travels in the Himalayas, I was invited the Utrecht University Museum. I made two pieces in the botanical garden and the former greenhouses. During this solo exhibition I also published the book Local = Global. In this book, from my point of view, biotechnology is a blessing for biodiversity. I invited advocates and opponents to respond (monsanto) to this statement so that the reader can form an opinion on this issue that concerns us all.
For the Geumgang Nature Art Biennale in Korea, I made a visual walk to emphasise the importance of biodiversity of nature and crops. In Korea there was a worn out and young nature as a result of the forgotten war in 1953. After the war, a demilitarized zone was established between North and South Korea. In this zone, nature could take its course and a botanical strip developed as a result creating a dividing line between North and South.
As a continuation of the working title Local = Global, I started using a new working title; Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product. A national slogan that originated from Bhutan.
Surrounded by natural borders, there is still a huge diversity of nature and agricultural crops, in which that is ‘necessary’ is paramount; no overproduction and/or monocultures.
In Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta and the Erasmus House, Jakarta, I have had two solo exhibitions inspired by that theme.
For these two exhibitions, I specially made my broccoli installations. Black rice forms a carpet for the waxed fluorescent yellow and black broccoli.
“Beyond the Dutch” 2010, Centraal Museum, Utrecht
All conflicting qualities that I saw in my personal life were addressed and visible in the exhibition. The way Indonesian art freed itself from the colonial period and developed into an independent, dynamic and appealing form of Asian art. The fact that Indonesian art is able to influence the world of art was strongly emphasised.
“Roemah Baroe” 2007-2015
Roemah Baroe is Indonesian for new home in a traditional kampong in Yogyakarta, the cultural heart of Java, with a lively artists’ community. My goal was to offer a cultural residence, where people can discuss through dialogue and cross-cultural people can meet. Local artists and the guests of the residence can come together in one place.
Benih means seed and roots and was the first in Roemah Baroe. Diversity always plays a strong role in my work. As a metaphor for origin, roots, but also as the beginning of growth of Roemah Baroe. I have invited renowned and friendly artists from Yogyakarta to work in my new home with the theme Benih.
I use and see the form as a metaphor for a portable exchangeable space, which I already know or have been to in my dreams. Or what I have been looking for in my dreams.
I work in layers over each other, in texts and images. Layering creates surprises but also creates new spaces.
I also ask open questions in the form of text to others and myself. It has to do with my search for where I am compared to the other; such as ‘Hey let’s draw together,’ ‘I’m open’.
It is a way of reflecting and wondering about my current position, in my studio and especially beyond to the outside. They can be seen as a kind of personal diary but can also fulfil the function for the spectator.
Table Settings 2016
This personal diary also counts for the table settings. Those are movable daily table setups. I take pictures of the table landscapes in different stages of time and place. I see personal spaces when I’m on the way.
“Papernews” is an Indonesian-Dutch art projects that came about from the networks of artists that work and live in Indonesia and The Netherlands. The starting point were conversations about their personal work and the current lifestyle of Indonesia and The Netherlands. Topics that were shared in real time through social media. Something that can’t happen on newspaper. The newspapers from here and there form the first layer that the involved artists used as starting point to react to topics. De involved artists all do this in their own style and methods.
In this period, I would pick out images from the newspaper on a daily basis. By only using typex I correct the image, I literally remove a layer from the image. I don’t edit or improve, even though typex is used for that reason. The removing of the improvement.
By removing the heavy black tones from the ‘big news’, I correct and create a new field of view. A new perspective. The combination of images, in duo’s and series creates new meaning.
Tekeningen op papier en collages 2018
From painting on canvas and many location changes to constantly temporary studios has caused my attention to focus more on ‘quick’ work. Nowadays I work mostly on paper and I use collage techniques.
When doing so I react on existing images, newspapers, works with text, old post from my youth, pictures and collected materials. By constantly adding layers new meanings can emerge. This work is a continuation of the Beauty Case series and is a push for me to create and develop new work.