Artistic view

The first theme I was exploring during my study on the academy was the big wonder: the almost alien world of the unborn child. Within this theme I developed my drawing and painting skills and I started to use charcoal and pencil on canvas. This way the work maintained transparency. At the same time I discovered the technique of mixed media, which made it possible to create contrasts of colour against non-colour by combining pencil with gesso, acrylics or oil paint.

The transparent and opaque layers also formed the technical starting-point for my portraits, as I started preparing the canvas partly with transparent and partly with opaque (gesso) primer. The colour of the canvas began to play an important role in my work, making a sharp contrast between the portrait and the background by painting the background in an opaque layer (gesso, acrylics or oil) and leaving the portrait transparent so it would show the colour of the canvas. This amplified the contrast between the plastic portrait and the flat ‘space’ of the background. The undefined background punts the attention on the detail of the portrait and makes the work almost abstract.


Explanation on the basis of an example:

The portrait of Marek is drawn on a non-prepared canvas. This way the pencil gets a soft, almost woolly effect. The colour of the skin is the natural, yellowish colour of the canvas. The background is prepared with gesso and then provided of a silver layer of acrylics, so it reflects the light. The contrast that takes shape amplifies the portrait visually (flat against plastic) as well as in the content (the self-absorbed mood).


The substantive principles

What inspires me in art is the universal (‘the idea’), like there is something higher (the religious feeling). With the foetuses I wanted to show life the in the universal sense. Going on it became my principle to search for the universal through the personal portrait. A quest for The Universal Soul. A close-up portrait, in which a moment in time is recorded, shows more of the essence of this person. The moment is personal, but the universal is visual in his expression at the moment he is self-absorbed, concentrated, or in deep thought. Especially this tranquillity makes it universal.
By putting the transparency against the opaque, the portrait attracts the attention intensely. The background is empty, white or just filled with warm colours. This amplifies the universal mood of the portrait.
The theme in my work always comprises a contrast, visual as well as substantive; universal against individual, colour against non-colour, space against plane, transparency against opaque.

Explanation on the basis of an example:

Again an example of a portrait in pencil, but now the canvas was prepared with a transparent primer. This makes the pencil lines harder and sharper. The matte background (gesso) sticks out against the soft colour of the canvas and places her in an undefined space or emptiness.

.In the portrait the skin, mouth and nose are light, almost not visible. Her eyes on the contrary are heavily formatted and her hair is black. She is vulnerable underneath her mask of make-up and h air die. It is perceptible what is going on in her mind.

Goddesses as holy icons

“I stand in adoration before a work of Caravaggio, because of him, the genius who was able to make the Divine (the Idea) visible for others.”

In my free work I use quotations of the Great Masters. I want to elevate their work to an icon of art. The artist has made ‘The Divine’(the idea) vissible for others. Therefor it is a tribute to the artist and his work. The subject of Goddesses amplifies the effect of holyness, but also invokes the tension between adoration for the work and the adoration for the dipicted Saint.
With this concept I cite the struggle for universals (scholasticism, Early Middle Ages) and the Neo-Platonism (Humanism and Early Renaissance) – philosophies that are based on the world of ideas of Plato. During the scholasticism there were two parties. The Realists based their theories on the idea that the idea come before the thing itself. In other words: God imagined the thing (the idea) before the thing itself existed. The Nominalists however, believed the idea came after the thing itself. In other words: the idea is a general conception that people formed after the thing itself existed.
This struggle was reconciled by Abélard. He said: ‘the idea is ìn the thing itself!’ In other words: for God the idea was before the thing itself, for people the idea came after the thing itself, and for the thing itself, the idea was always ìn the thing itself.
With the rise of Neo-Platonism and Humanism (non theological) in the Early Renaissance the artist gained a higher status. This was among others initiated by Neo-Platonist Marsilio Ficino. He argues, after Abélard, that a genius artist can see the idea in the things itself (the world around him) and he is able to make the idea vissible for others by his art.

Pagan Goddesses as Chistian Saints; it is al the same. Every Goddess has her equivilant in a Christian Saint. Holyness is divinity and universal. Like the archetypes of Jung: the universal idea.
I see the idea in everything, in every person, like a spark of divinity. The genius can make the universal idea – the absolute truth – visible for others, whereby the work has universally applicable and eternal beauty.


Lamia(after George Frampton)


Demon or holy Goddess?

Her radiance is unpretentious and warm. Seductive but virginal. Is she a muse? Is her gaze respectfully naïf – like a martyr – or is it inscrutably sneaky?
She is Maria and Maria Magdalena. She is a woman, mother, mystic saint. But if we look at her, we can see her as a modest young woman, who lets down her eyes in humble. Or we can see her as a ruler, who looks down at something or someone- her victim? In her look she unites contradictions.

The attention is drawn to the face because of the golden halo. This amplifies her spirituality as well as her mind.

Lamia: mythology and my own reflections

Lamia is a demon from the Greek mythology, who lived in the desert of Liberia. She is related to Syrens and mermaids. She is like a vampire ‘avant la lettre’, comparable to the Roman Lemures (Larvae). Lamia likes to seduce young men and then drink their blood. Also she kills and eats children. She is supposed to be the fastest predator, that can pass any prey. She is an intelligent creature: with stratagem she leads her victims to their death. With her sweet voice she attracts passers and at the edge of the desert she enjoys killing castaways.
Lamia used to be a beautiful and attractive woman, who was loved by Zeus and gave him many children. But the jealous wife of Zeus, Hera, brought Lamia to insanity and disfigured her face. Lamia then murdered her own children and after that all other children that would cross her path.

The Lamia represented here is beautiful and attractive – not jet disfigured by Hera. She looks down. Is this the moment she turns insane? Or is she still this innocent, fair lover of Zeus and mother of his children? Her halo declares her saint and amplifies the serene impression. But at the same time this evokes a tension, like she has the divine power which she can use to her own pleasure.

The Three Graces (after Primavera, Botticelli)

De drie gratien

The three Goddesses mean:

  • Radiance (Aglaia) à Beauty
  • Delight (Euphrosyne) à Joy of life
  • Prosperity (Thaleia or Thalia) àCreativity

The trees mean:

Tamara van den Berg