Saturday, 27 May 2023

Jan Kolata / Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters 

painting in Norway



When I studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the 1970s, it was a time when painting was considered totally outdated (this happens quite regularly). I remember very well the question of a fellow student towards the end of my studies: Do you still paint? In such moments, I always remembered Kurt Schwitters in my defence, who, despite Dada and Merz, still painted en plein air every summer in Norway and also did so later in emigration in Norway (photo) and then in England, and earned his living with it. As a student I visited his grave in Ambleside in the Lake District. Later, Schwitters' remains were moved to Hannover. He was one of my artistic heroes at the time. Not only that he dared to oppose the main stream of the 1920s, 1930s – with all the consequences of emigration from Nazi Germany, but that he knew how to maintain his independence just as much in the face of the institutionalising avant-garde. This attitude won me over for him.
When I myself began to paint more intensively in the open air, a painting moped was needed for this purpose. I converted my Rixe accordingly (photo), and was thus able to roam the landscape of the Lower Rhine (flat) and the Bergisches Land (hilly) in a relaxed manner. I had integrated a picnic drawer under the compartment for the paint tubes – perfect! 

It's been a long time since then. The work in the studio and thus the absence of the motif has made my painting more and more selfreferential. But you can still feel that I painted en plein air for a while. The colour in my paintings does not follow a programme, it always seems atmospheric, changeable. Sun, wind and rain are in it. Sometimes it is ephemeral, as if washed away by the rain (my connection to Edvard Munch, who let his paintings ripen in the rain – except that I use a Kärcher), then as if illuminated or punchy present. In painting, nature is no longer the object, but all the more a player and adversary in the process itself. Putting the canvas under water, letting the thin paint spread out on the canvas and find its shape - this kind of self-organisation of the painting works for me when I paint.

Is plein air painting finally finished for me today? To work outdoors, in the midst of greenery (John Constable!) - that remains a temptation that I will perhaps give in to once again.


Jan Kolata, 2023

Jan Kolata (DE)

painting on the Lower Rhine


Saturday, 13 May 2023

Rémy Hysbergue / Kupka-Marquet-Vermeer

František Kupka 

Lignes animées


193 x 200 cm

oil on canvas

Albert Marquet

Vue sur le Pont St Michel à Paris en 1912 


65 x 81 cm

oil on canvas

Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe

Johannes Vermeer

Meisje met de rode hoed


22,8 x 18 cm

oil on panel

National Gallery of Art, Washington




It's a desire for painting that is ultimately quite classic: a concern for composition, color and light. Playing on the different qualities of definitions: blur, sharp, hyper sharp. Enhance "unpainted empty" spaces. Find consistency in light, on velvet.
These three are among the most important inspirations for me.


Rémy Hysbergue, 2023

Rémy Hysbergue
exhibition Élégants Velours

Haus der Kunst St. Josef, Solothurn Switzerland


Rémy Hysbergue

À découvert series


200 x 155 cm 

acrylic on velvet

Rémy Hysbergue (FR)

À découvert


80 x 65 cm 

acrylic on velvet

Saturday, 1 April 2023

Helma Michiels / Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell



280 x 359 cm

oil on canvas

Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2016



It was in New York in 2013 that I first layed eyes on a work by Joan Mitchell (Chicago 1925-Paris 1992). I did not know her and it puzzled me how on earth this was possible. Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline were her friends. The painting spoke from the depth of the paint. Oops, I first wrote, from the depth of the pain. There actually is a lot of truth in that. These brushstrokes were made of flesh and blood, anger and despair, passion and paint, disguised in gorgeous colours. There is no hesitation in the brushstrokes. No wonder they knocked me out straight away. When I read her biography Joan Mitchell, Lady painter, A Life, by Patricia Albers, she became my great friend, in heaven of course, but still. A friend for life.


Like a kind of pilgrimage, I went to see the place where she had lived. On my way home from Spain, where I work during many months each year, I stopped at Vétheuil, a sleepy little town near Paris, strangled by the river Seine. A house on a hill, "La Tour", with a cemetary as the quiet neighbour. It showed me once again that you can make the greatest work anywhere. Drive and dedication are more important. You need to "keep the paint flying" as she would say. I am really grateful that she did dedicate her life to painting. We need this work that speaks for itself. I do.


In 2016, Joan made me visit Museum Ludwig in Cologne where she was honored in a great retrospective. Especially her last works, made with the last strength from her tormented body, made a huge impression. These paintings are immensely large and strong. They speak to me. Make me respond. As a painter. As a person, as a woman. I feel them. She had to prove herself all her life. Because she was a woman. Her last work Merci from 1992 moved me to tears. And I realised, with regret, that I could have known her, if only I had discovered her sooner. Being in a private collection together, is the closest I will ever get. A privilege, I must admit.


2023 Took me to Paris, where she was presented by Fondation Luis Vuitton in combination with late Monets. A daring combination, knowing that she hated to be connected to Monet. But any opportunity to see her work, is a good one.


Helma Michiels, 2023

Helma Michiels (NL)


120 x 180 cm

oil on canvas

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Lon Godin / Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman

Who's afraid of red yellow and blue III


224 x 544 cm

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Lon Godin (NL/DE)

NM | Lumen | Big Horizontal II  


200 x 480 cm

oil on canvas

Saturday, 4 March 2023

Ab van Hanegem / Karl Otto Götz

Karl Otto Götz


145 x 175 cm

mixed media on canvas

Ab van Hanegem (NL/DE)



180 x 270 cm

acrylic on canvas

Saturday, 11 February 2023

Keetje Mans / Jean Brusselmans

Jean Brusselmans  

Dame Au Canapé


oil on canvas

150 x 150 cm

Jean Brusselmans



oil on canvas

86 x 100 cm

Jean Brusselmans  

Les Mouettes (The Seagulls)


oil on canvas

95 x 75 cm

Jean Brusselmans  

Nature Morte A Leventail (Still life with Folding Fan)


oil on canvas 



Jean Brusselmans is a Belgian painter. What has got me transfixed to his paintings is that he uses his personal life and habitat, his village near the sea and his house and domestic environment as an inspirational base. The objects trees, birds, ocean waves, naked bathers transform through the direct brushstrokes and almost square form he it can become a world of its own...with strange proportions and earthy colors that still seem so fresh to me. 

From what I've read he doesn't seem to like the art world that much and in great poverty he stays under the radar for a long time in the village where he lives and paints what he sees...

He is definitely one of the painters I like to watch, his works look very decisive and firm. Geometric and rhythmic even. But at the same time there is so much feeling in a painting of seagulls or storm at sea or his wife’s dress. 


In my work my domestic life, interior and exterior move through one another and I really like to see my environment and private world as a personal base for my paintings. As a painter you try to provide your subjects with a kind of character or a soul at best and in this practice I really like to use strange proportions or brush strokes or try to reshape or use patterns.


Keetje Mans, 2023

Keetje Mans



acrylic on linen 

120 x 280 cm 

photo Moniek Wegdam

Keetje Mans 



oil on linen

190 x 150 cm

Keetje Mans



acrylics canvas 

200 x 200 cm

photo Moniek Wegdam

Keetje Mans (NL)

Ceremony (Candle Candy) 


oil on linen

230 x 360 cm

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Rob Verf / Willem Claesz Heda

Willem Claesz Heda 

Still Life with a Fruit Pie


oil on panel

80,6 x 101,5 cm




There isn’t a particular artwork that is my favourite. In my paintings (but also in my spatial work, collages, videos, etc.), there are many demonstrable interfaces with works of art from the past. All with different reasons: through the subject, the way of painting, the composition, the concept of space or colour. Some of my works are direct references to works by Pablo Picasso or by Vincent van Gogh. But the majority of my inspiration comes from Dutch baroque paintings, with painters such as Pieter de Hooch, Johannes Vermeer, Gabriel Metsu, Willem Claesz Heda, Rembrandt, and others. 


One of the subjects that interest me in the paintings of the Dutch Baroque Period is the fact that objects, as well as persons, are isolated in the whole. Nothing is present for decorative reasons, but has a function in the image. In addition, especially with Johannes Vermeer, light is very important. Unlike Rembrandt van Rijn, who depicted light as a material, Johannes Vermeer paints a spiritual light. The light is energy between the objects. 


The images of these historical paintings mix with the visual language and views of the contemporary. Social topics in the country where I am resident (Argentina), in South America or from the world in general mix with the Dutch tradition in painting. An example of this juxtaposition was my exhibition Vanitas (2022) in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires in Argentina, where the vanitas /still life subject was drawn towards the contemporary. Garbage -with it’s sculptural value- is a subject that can be found in many of my paintings and photographs over the years, either as a theme in it self, as an installation or as part of a painting. Garbage has direct interfaces with the vanitas theme. In particular, it clearly reflects the anthropogenic era in which we now find ourselves. 


The exhibition showed my artworks made in different decades about the subject, in combination with paintings from different centuries from the collection of the museum (Jan Fyt, Diego Rivera, Georges Braque amongst others). It was centred on an installation with five paintings that form a huge still life of garbage. A landscape of garbage as it appears in the street. Painted as an image of a hospital MRI-scan: representing an analysis of society.


Rob Verf,  2022

Rob Verf

MRI-Scan Of Society


acrylic on canvas

140 x 210 cm

(collection Bank Of The Nation, Argentina)

Rob Verf

MRI-Scan Of Society


acrylic on canvas

140 x 1020 cm

(Installation at the National Museum Of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2022)

Rob Verf (NL/AR)

MRI-Scan OF Society


acrylic on canvas

140 x 200 cm

(One of the 5 paintings that form the installation)