Jan de Beus
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‘The twentieth-century art lover sees his own eye as a gift of nature, whereas it is a product of history.‘ Pierre Bourdieu, The Rules of Art

JAN DE BEUS: Mud, clay and cow pats,

A conversation by Leon Hanssen


In the early eighties, Jan de Beus (Muiderberg, 1958) joined a group of painters in Berlin who were to gain international renown as the Neue Wilden. He later undertook several travels to faraway destinations, such as the Pacific lslands, where he visited the graves of Gauguin and the author Stevenson, signs of de Beus‘ growing interest in tradition of both the art of painting and literature. His work, exhibited in The Netherlands as well as abroad from early on in his career, is characterized by an extremely expressive rendering of cultural historical themes, reaching back to the Romantics, classical myth, and the Bible. De Beus‘ art of painting, because of its impasto character, demonstrates an affinity with that of older foreign artists such as Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, and Eugène Leroy, but also with Dutch contemporaries like Marie-José Robben and Marc Mulders, all exploiters of paint. The following conversation explores De Beus‘ interaction with cultural historical tradition, the way in which he translates literary motives and through his artistic representation provides them with new meaning.

JdB As a painter, the things I recognize in literature are often of an autobiographical nature: I recognize that writers were facing similar problems and were looking for resolutions. lt is just that I opt for images where they choose language. Consider what I did with the French Romantic poet Gérard de Nerval in a series of paintings, Souvenirs cle Nerval (1984/85). The association of Nerval — his life, his work — with motives of the macabre and the erotic resurfaces in all of these works. The first piece, Osiris, shows a cemetery haunted by a ghost. In Todeskampf, Nerval is visited in his bed by a lady in lingerie. A death scene? From a historical perspective, this is of course somewhat problematic, considering that Nerval did not die in bed at all, but one night hung himself from a gate in the streets of Paris. So my painting is more of a hair-raising fantasy! The same goes for the third piece, of portrait format, in which a man is sucked off by a skull. The next painting, Statue, contains a partial reference to Gerrit Achterberg, whose poetry I also read at the time. Time and again my fantasy was stirred by Nerval‘s life and writings, and I combined those fantasies with various other impressions. Finally, the fifth piece, a painting in landscape format, was inspired by an erotic drawing of Gustav Klimt. But what has Klimt got to do with Nerval? And what, in turn, has Nerval got to do with me? The point of convergence is that while reading Nerval‘s Sylvie, I inadvertently associated it with Klimt‘s drawing of two naked women. Later, I visited Nerval‘s grave, and that pilgrimage led to a final painting, At the Grave of Gérard De Nerval. lt is as if l played a game of dice with several separate pieces, which resulted in a series entitled Souvenirs de Nerval. I must stress the fact, however, that I am not an illustrator like Alfred Kubin a master of the macabre, for that matter - who produced drawings to accompany Nerval‘s Aurélia, of a woman, for example, who runs herself through with a knife. However wonderful those drawings are, they remain no more than illustrations. Now, fifteen years on, I have returned to Nerval, and did two small paintings in oil inspired by his poem El Desdichado. They are non-figurative depictions, thick with paint.

LH At a certain point, your reading has to become expressive, I mean expressive in painted shapes. But where would you locate this factor of transformation in your translation of a literary image into a painted image; which elements of an image remain unchanged, and which are transformed? And what role is played in this process by the element so characteristic for the art of painting, the paint itself?
That paint is my writing; it is what I write with, be it on literature or on music, which is just as important to me. To take two other pieces from the same period, Stürmisch bewegt I & II (1983), incited by Gustav Mahler‘s First Symphony — those pieces indeed represent attempts to transpose that music into images.
Because you are dealing with two separate media, the following problem arises: how do you translate one medium into the other? You provide a depiction of a literary representation which in itself is already a depiction, but you provide it in a new medium. Of course, as soon as you wield a brush, you enter a world with different regulations, but that does not alter the fact that you still maintain a relation with those other artists: the poet, the composer, the singer. What I would like us to try is to define as accurately as possible this relation, which represents both an estrangement since it concerns such a fundamental transformation, and a rapprochement because it is essentially a loving gesture.
I am reminded of something else. The history of opera knows some wonderful classical performances. In days of old the horse Grane was very realistically led on stage at the dose of Götterdämmerung, but nowadays we let our hair down where classical works are concerned. In Duisburg, angry Wagner lovers walked out on Werner Schroeter‘s production because Isold was not allowed to die her Liebestod! Schroeter even involved the Russian Revolution. I tell you, all of a sudden a boy sailor jumps into the fire, and Tristan seems to be having an affair with Kurwenal, his shield-bearer, instead of with Isold, who is in turn involved with Brangäne instead of with Tristan. The two do not even look each other in the eye in that production. Mister Schroeter interpreted Wagner‘s stage directions rather unreservedly. In fact, he turns the opera into a new, autonomous work of art, borrowing Wagner‘s music and text. What you see is not a performance of Wagner, you go see a Schroeter.
But that is not prohibited by law.
No, no one prohibits it, but it does carry it something too far. When I paint a scene from the Bible, it is a concrete painting of a scene as it is described in the Scriptures, whether it concerns the Flight to Egypt, the Fight with the Angel, or the Adoration of the Magi. These scenes appeal to me; I may be inspired by early engravings, but also by modern interpretations which I reinterpret, such as a painting by Max Slevogt, or the Marsyas by Titian. Picasso borrowed anything he could lay his hands on. My work is set in that tradition.
You make a distinction between ‘illustration‘ and ‘borrowing‘. You practice both, and find legitimisation in tradition: Slevogt and Picasso did the same, Kossoff does it as weil. But where you speak of Schroeter I detect a note of disapproval. Why can‘t he do what you allow in Picasso?
In the end, I do not recognize a respect for Wagner‘s work in Schroeter, however fascinating his production. Take Heinrich Müller‘s production (Bayreuth 1993- 1999); even if inveterate Wagnerians complain that all the romance has gone out of it, you do recognize some ... love, and that is one of the essential aspects of Tristan, precisely the aspect that Schroeter ignores.
You employ the Image of “borrowing”, but something you borrow needs to be returned. And maybe that is precisely what Schroeter does to Wagner: he returns his piece — after having used it — with an added value.
In that sense I do indeed borrow, as a homage to that artist. And I then try to add something of my love and admiration. In a text on my work, Jurrie Poot, the custodian of prints and drawings in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, uses the term ‘loving remembrance‘ (which he in turn derives from Souvenirs pieux by Marguerite Yourcenar). I can very much recognize myself in those words. That is the way I paint when I am inspired by Nerval, Bruckner, or Mahler: my pieces are almost like nineteenth-century homages. I recognize the same thing in the French painter and graphic artist Henri Fantin-Latour, in his paraphrases of the music of Wagner and Berlioz. Of course, the language becomes one of images, because of my handwriting, but with regard to the musical or literary origins of the work, the paint itself is of minor relevance. I could have set the same scene using only a thin layer of paint. If you talk of paint as a material, you enter the field of the art of painting, and then you are dealing with a different subject.

But don‘t you also make your own associations in your images? I almost feel called upon to defend Schroeter from you. Of course, every artist‘s point of departure is the canon of classical themes. Titian‘s interpretation of Marsyas is classical (The Condemnation of Marsyas, c. 1570-76; Episcopal Museum Kromeriz, Slovakia). Marsyas, the Phrygian flutist, was so convinced of his own abilities that he dared Apollo to engage in a musical competition with him. He lost the duel, and was handed over to the arbitrary will of Apollo, who had him skinned alive. Titian depicts Marsyas hanging up side down from a tree, with his flute next to him, as a warning. This is a beautiful, creative story; Pan, the god of fruitfulness, has a bucket ready to receive Marsyas‘ blood. You too have painted this theme several times, inspired by Titian. Each artist takes up the gauntlet and engages in a fight, with the risk of afterwards finding yourself hanging upside down, having been skinned alive. Whom do you enter into a fight with, and what are the weapons you hurl into the battle?
I do indeed consider myself as a very ciassical artist. With regard to the manner of painting, my work is related to that of a number of artists who paint impasto, be it Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, or Eugne Leroy. They all grasp back to the later Monticelli, who reaches back to Fragonard and Watteau — it all continues. My subjects on the other hand are connected with the romantic images of the Pre-Raphaelites, without being epigonistic, since, in the end, the handwriting, the brushstrokes, are all by me, as is the execution of the portrayal.

Obviously, every painter worth his name engages with the artistic and cultural historical tradition. Through Antoine Watteau and the ‘grand gôute‘ of the court of Louis XIV, you can indeed associate yourself with that whole world of mythological figures and religious themes that formed the stock repertoire of an artist in those days. You can draw up the most wonderful pedigrees in that manner. But in the end, the question is not what tradition does to you, but what you do to tradition, what you return to it. If you truly want to return something that is ‘completely yourself‘ and at the same time represents an echo of tradition, then you will have to sing the work loose from its origins, to use a term from neo-romantic poetry which is used more and more often lately. lt involves a complicated process, a process of manipulation.
Keats‘s Hyperion contains a line: ‘Deep in the shady sadness of a vale.‘ That line alone evokes such a sense of beauty that I try to portray some of that beauty in my painting, I try to return it, as you say. I do not need the poem as a whole for that.
Perhaps we need to talk of the word ‘experience‘ instead of ‘sense‘. You have used the term in the past, when you stated that ‘the foundation of expression is the experience’. Keats‘s line reaches back to an experience which he could only voice in an image, a metaphor. The image has to express something, but indirectly, by a roundabout route. When you paint, you stand at the beginning of yet another roundabout route. You aim to reach some core with what you paint, to refer to an experience, but essentially, in creating an image, you distance yourself from your point of departure. You create a new experience which in a way obstructs the old experience. You form an image which a spectator who is not aware of the title will never associate with Keats.
In that case, the line indeed provides no more than an occasion for a painting. Another quotation, this time from Brideshead Revisited: ‘Et in Arcadia Ego‘ (‘I, too, was once in Paradise‘ ‚ after the famous painting of Nicolas Poussin). This is a line I in this twentieth-century society very much relate to, and I idealise and romanticise as well, with innocence, represented by young girls or my farmer‘s life - although I am not really a farmer, but I am a farmer‘s son. My way of painting is comparable to tilling the fields. If I begin to paint in spring, and start out with a certain number of white canvasses, if I sow them, so to speak, and work throughout the summer, then a number of canvasses will have been completed by autumn. That is what I call my harvest - you could say that you reap your harvest when your paintings are fit to be photographed, when they have been framed. Where does literature come in, you might ask. Of course I focus on Romantic writers, because they, too, wrote fantasies out of a feeling of dissatisfaction with reality; fantasies of innocence and Arcadian life. To come back to Gérard de Nerval, he experienced an unrequited love for Jenny Colon. What did he do about it? He started to write. That is how Sylvie was created, the ultimate declaration of love. In his fantasies, Jenny became his mother, the Blessed Virgin Maria, Isis. That is something I recognise. My infatuations sometimes give me a huge boost, and they later on find a place or a function in my paintings.

Do you feel you need this link with the classics in order to ‘upgrade‘ your own life?
I don‘t know if l really need it, it just happens. I create classical paintings on the basis of a great congeniality with especially the Romantic artists, but I create them in a way they have never been represented before. I am the creator of a private mythology.
I use the word ‘upgrade‘ also in view of your rather dim view of late twentieth-century culture. Considered from that perspective, romanticism could be a form of survival.
I do not consider myself an eccentric. I have an eight year old child(2000), I need to plan ahead. Essentially, however, I am very old fashioned. Computers? I‘d rather use pen and paper. lt is my choice whether or not to join in with things. I can survive, but I do need my own lifestyle.
What I would like to discuss is the cultural historical aspect of your work. When you engage with the classics, you shake hands with your predecessors, you stand on their shoulders. What attracts me in Schroeter is that he passes something on: he stands very loosely on Wagner‘s shoulders, but perhaps that balancing act is the essence of entering into a tradition, and taking that tradition further. The fact that Schroeter with Tristan und Isolde, the famous love opera, shows that only cool love can exist, or maybe no love at all, might be the best cultural historical answer of the nineties that Wagner could have wished for. Tristan und Isolde might very well be read in the light of Wagner‘s unrequited love for Mathilde Wesendonck. (In the way that perhaps the greatest cultural creations are no more than lamentations of love gone awry.) But in Wagner one also recognizes a strong cultural historical aspect. His work expresses a fundamental complaint about the decline of culture. A unity of life and experience no longer exists, we are estranged from our experiences, we allow premodelled lives to be imposed upon us, we lose contact with our longing for love, our need for reflection, for our inner self. We have lost the original, tragic conception of life as the old Greeks knew it. lt is Wagner‘s wish to restore that conception. From the nineteenth century onward, every artist is also a culture critic. An emancipation of artistry occurs; the artist finds himself on his own in society, and has to provide for himself. The strange thing is that from that very moment the artist starts to consider critically the new bourgeois, capitalist society. This culture-critical tradition, which Wagner unquestionably belongs to, and which was theoretically founded in Nietzsche, continues to this day. What is it in modern culture that causes you to vent your emotions, that makes you want to return to an original experience, set in the context of innocence, love, and Arcadia?
I have to admit that the unspoilt country life that I idealise stands in complete contrast to reality. lt is the same in my lovely village, Muiderberg. lt is a reserve. Electricity wires, trains, the motorway all avoid it. When I paint that village, it is no actual landscape I paint, it is romanticised. Good heavens, speaking of Nietzsche and his master-slave morality, I think we are working toward creating the ultimate slave morality here. East Germany achieved a boring uniformity within a couple of years. In an interview, actress and singer Gisela May warned that cities will all look very much the same, except perhaps their patched-up old centres. I had a minimal education because I hated to be told what to do. I was interested in history, drawing, and painting. I finally left school at the age of fifteen. Generally, everything I know I have taught myself. Personal freedom is what is lacking. lt is all very well to say that we have more spare time, that we can do as we like, but, my arse, on the other hand we can do so much less. I create whatever I want, how I want it, and whenever I want. My work sells, and I can live off it, but if l were to take one step outside of that world, yes, I would feel deeply unhappy.
We had a farm when I was young. My father did not keep up with the times; he wanted to do things his way. We were the last to use a horse and cart in Muiderberg. As a kid, I used to run away from school, across the street and the fields, to the farm, because I wanted to help my father. I could draw and paint at home just as well. As a child, I used to look upon my father as a kind of knight, for I was fascinated by the chivalric age. Later, I spent years in archives trying to find out where we came from: were we knights, or rank and file? My mother is from an old family of the Erfgooiers, who in the twentieth century appealed to their ancients rights from the rule of Floris V, exemption from toll and game laws. That might sound rather peculiar, for seven hundred years have passed since. All went well until the twenties of this century, when cars started to pop up. A certain mister Floris Vos founded an ‘Erfgooiers Party‘ at the time, which, basing its claim in the ancient exemption from toll, refused to pay road taxes. lt all came down to money, of course, yet those old privileges suddenly resurfaced. A nephew of my grandmother went out hunting, and was arrested by the police, because he had shot a hare on the premises of Queen Wilhelmina. Too bad for the police, we enjoy an exemption from game laws. Such stories left a great impression on me, they engendered all sorts of Robin Hood-like fantasies, made me very receptive to a book like Treasure Island. Later, I travelled to the island of Samoa to visit the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson, and I did a series of pirate paintings. Melville‘s words: ‘Stick to the dreams of thy youth‘ seem cut out for me.
I do not paint in order to improve the world, although in my Neue Wilden period I did paint a series entitled: Landschaft mit blutenden Bildern (1980), which relates the Napoleonic Wars to Hitler Germany, set in the landscape of West Flanders. That did actually constitute an indictment of war. In those years of protest against the arms race and cruise missiles (they were employed against Serbia shortly ago) I joined several massive demonstrations in Amsterdam and The Hague. I was a conscientious objector to military service as well. But what it always comes down to is individual freedom. I remember that in 1978 a young political scientist said to me: ‘You shouldn‘t engage yourself in anything; you create your paintings, and that is of sufficient importance in this society.‘ That stayed with me. That is how I was raised, to do my own thing. Don‘t forget, we are farmers, and with farmers it is the same as with artists. The latter are always said to be lazy, and farmers are supposed to be dense. That is what you grow up with. I did not see much of culture at home. Well, the Children's Bible, that is where my first figurative impressions stem from. Perhaps what I am doing is very therapeutic, using paint to clear my mind of those childhood dreams.

And you also paint towards something, towards the restoration of an experience this world does not grant you, does not give you.
Mud, clay, and cow pats, that is what it all stems from. That is why I paint impasto. I knew I wanted to be a painter when I was still in primary school. Becoming a farmer? Never. All those small farmers down in the village, that wasn‘t worth it; you needed to do things on a grand scale, or become something else. My father still used a horse and cart, so he had been completely shunted off. We held a lease of two plots of land: on one of them, a home for the elderly has been built, and the bridge to Flevoland has emerged on the other. When I was in 6th form, we no longer had a farm, the livestock had been sold. We lived (and continue to do so) in the ‘Echo farmstead‘, overlooking one of the oldest and most beautiful Jewish cemeteries in the Netherlands. In those days, it was already clear to me that I wanted to be a painter. In the third form of elementary school, we went on an outing to the Kröller-Müller Museum - and I thought it was great. My classmates and other children were bellowing and whining, and didn‘t like it one little bit. But I was very impressed by Van Gogh‘s paintings, as well as by the medieval nude by Cranach that‘s also in the Kröller-Müller. This is what I wanted to do in the future! My parents: ‘So you want to be a painter? You‘ll be a commercial artist then, for cousin Kees makes a good living that way.‘ So, on the advice of the head teacher, I was sent to the Junior Technical School in Bussum. I cycled up and down to Bussum for a year. lt was a disaster — the advertising department had been done away with ten years earlier, would you believe. So then I opted for lower general secondary education. In my second year, I was kicked out of school, I had not done anything up to Christmas. ‘If you don‘t want to learn, you had better work, because you‘ve got a pair of hands to work with.‘ I ended up in a strange store, a great big department store. That is where I started to make my own money, for a while: five days, then four, three, it got less and less. I bought paint and started to paint. I received a kind of education from Jan Meijer, up in our village, six months of drawing, painting, and watercolours one evening a week, and working clay one evening a month. I went to Roland van den Berg one afternoon per week for two and a half years, and finally I attended the state academy for three months, but I only went there two evenings per week. In the mean time, I started to sell a thing or two, and started to exhibit. Even though I still lived at home, with my parents, I was free to do as I pleased. I was pleased that I had been admitted to the state academy, but that is all there‘s to it, because that, too, didn‘t work for me. The possibility to receive, as one of the last painters to do so, a grant for graphic artists enabled me to become a fulltime artist. In 1980, Else Mulder advised me to join the Ateliers ‘63 at Haarlem. But was I to be told what to do by those people in Haarlem? lt might have been good for my career, but I was set on doing things my own way. The belittlement one has to endure there, I would probably have told Mr Dibbets:
pooh. The entire art world is very much a party game. That is why I am mainly autodidact. lt is a farmer‘s mentality, you determine what you want to do on your own land. I am a very good painter, in a certain tradition that I remain constant to, and that I continue to develop.
This search for tradition in culture, might that not have to do with the fact that you didn‘t receive an education?
I was certainly interested, and perhaps I was good at learning, but I wanted to discover everything in my own way. I grew to admire the theory of Heraclitus and Nietzsche, that it is only the form that changes, the essence remains unaltered. lt may nevertheless be a romantic view of life, because it does not get you anywhere in real life. I was married twice, and it didn‘t work out twice. By now, I am forty-one years old, and I prefer to date teenage girls (that‘s me romanticising innocence again). Where does one recognize that? In literature. I bought paint, set about painting, and at the same time I began a collection of books and records. With the proceeds of my first paintings, I bought Beethoven‘s Ninth. Störig‘s History of Philosophy caused me to become fascinated with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard — I started to read all of them. Kees Fens once said: you buy a book and, at once, you discover a hiatus. So you buy another book. That way, you easily get to three thousand books. I learned my German from Wagner, by comparing his libretti to their English translation. And I travelled a lot, pilgrimages and visits to cemeteries. I saw Thomas Hardy‘s urn, Proust‘s grave and Gauguin‘s. lt is as if they are a kind of family to me. I have never found a shape for Bach‘s music, which I also really love, the way I found it for Mahler or Bruckner. I am not yet through with that.
You are not able to translate Bach yet.
No, I cannot translate it yet.
What I mean is that forms of painting have their own dynamics that you encounter the moment you translate musical impressions into an image, a dynamics you might even have to submit yourself to as an instrument.
All such anecdotes do not really matter in the end, as long as the painting stands. Critics align me with Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, and Marc Mulders, among the ‘thickpainters‘, because I paint impasto. As if that says it all! Auerbach is much more of an aesthetic painter than Kossoff, and they are grouped together nevertheless. Kosoff is a lot more sensitive. where the Swedish Evert Lundquist is more of a matter painter. I think Marc Mulders is an outstanding artist, but it is a shame that he does not expand his repertoire. He could do more than he is showing us at the moment. I keep wondering: where is the back of his tongue? One takes a more critical approach to people who are of the same age as oneself than one has to people who have already proved themselves. We still have to prove ourselves. How I prove myself? By reinterpreting the nineteenth century.
A painting‘s attraction should originate in the effect of the painting itself, not in a literary theme intended to convince me of a the qualities of a work. What interests me is when the form of painting you have chosen runs off with you, and eventually with the viewer as well. (For it is the viewer who effectuates the impression, it is the viewer who makes a work of art.) This form enters into a relationship with a literary or cultural historical theme, but it is its tragedy — to cite the literary sociologist Georg Lukács — that it needs to ‘sing‘ itself ‘loose‘ from that, it needs to tear itself away in order to become an autonomous aesthetic object itself. In your work this battle, a battle with literature, but also a battle between abstraction and figuration, has become so deeply ingrained that black, that unquestionably tragic colour, is now your own or your most ‘adequate‘ colour. In his preface to the exposition Visual Excitement which you organised in 1994 as a ‘plea for the art of painting‘ with the work of several established and contemporary artists, Rudi Fuchs states that ‘the art of painting has had to struggle this past century.‘ The artists you selected are all characterized by a unique combination of design and emotional involvement. They, like you, opt for classical themes. Churches, landscapes, townscapes, the model, domestic life, self portraits. They are also classical in their biblical art historical and literary historical depictions. These themes become the subject of a translation into paint, which is mainly concerned with ‘exploiting the paint‘. lt is an impasto manner of painting where the image is deformed to such an extent, to the famous third dimension that Cezanne spoke of, that an image comes into being which consists of various shades ranging to black. You might also call it a horror vacui. The linen becomes so fat, so dense, so full, so charged even, that the original attempt to salvage an experience from the transience of life balances on the boundary of becoming its opposite. The immortalisation of an experience becomes its destruction. Because of this deformation of the image what eventually remains, as has been said in connection with your work, is an image laden with nightmares. You are unequivocally ever in search of archetypes, you draw sketches in an abandoned Romanesque chapel, place the crenellated tower of Muiderberg in similar series of blazing images as Canterbury Cathedral and the church of Katwijk. Moreover, you return to the archetypal themes of the old masters. At the same time you seem either to smear the image so full of paint, or to represent it in so many variations (as if once is not enough, and the image needs to be exhausted), that a spectator keeps looking for the image. lt is in this sensation of an extremely powerful image that appears and disappears at the same time, of an archetype which rises and sinks back into the paint, that the great fascination of your work lies.
The idea of my work is classical. I start out with a Breitnerean painting, and then I continue from there, like a painter tilling the field, until it becomes a Jan de Beus. What it all comes down to in the end is the destruction of an image. The origins of an image are still relatively easy to detect in my etchings, which are less deformed than my paintings. They are destructed indeed, until an almost figurative matter painting comes into being. This destruction continues until the moment of completion.
So you form something through destruction. Why is this destruction necessary, what does it create?
The form is the eventual painting, but that form stems from the force and possibilities of the amorphous, the earthly, the paint. I thereby create a painting which, if it is a successful painting does not immediately yield up its secrets.
Let us map the process now. You aim to return to your most authentic experience. We have identified that as freedom and unity. Certain archetypes carry the promise of that experience in them (the landscape, youth, the lover, romantic artistry) and in your expression in paint you seek alliance with those archetypes. But what takes place in extremis is destruction; a destruction of the image in the representation — to use that word once more. Somewhere in this process of representation a revolution takes place and this destruction becomes creative, and a secret, as you call it, appears, a secret that does not give itself away, at least not at first sight. The capital experience that formed your initial subject, is eventually evoked, then, as a secret that remains unsolvable as yet: an image that rises and disappears in one and the same perception.
For me, destruction represents the finishing touch. lt is not like wrecking at all, for then things have gone wrong, and one needs to start all over again. No, it is to relinquish the belle peinture in a kind of orgasm of painting. That needs to go further and further.
With destruction I also mean the ‘rupture‘ of meanings in the struggle of modern subjectivity with tradition. In that sense, it does not matter that you have a militant and even destructive attitude to tradition, since new meanings emerge from that struggle, meanings you return to tradition, that you enrich it with. All right, it yields a secret, something to puzzle us, but that also keeps you looking, and keeps the painting from being used, as Gerard Reve once said of literary reviews, to wrap fish in the day after. The work may not render the authentic experience, but it does render the announcement and the downfall of it; the climax, the experience of beauty itself, is in between, and it is up to the spectator to actualise it. In that sense, I think, you are a painter of the sublime. You overwhelm, you ‘rupture‘, utter a promise, and tantalize the viewer‘s imagination to the utmost. lt is up to him or her to concretise the secret, or perhaps to dismiss it as banal.
Paintings that do not disclose their secrets straight away are paintings that one can look at for a long time, and discover a lot in.
That, too, will need to go further and further.