I was raised in a rich cultural environment within a very creative family. Making art was a daily activity for me from an early age that was not separate from life but at the service of life. After I had come into contact with many different forms and techniques for making art until I was 16, there was an increasing desire to use my own method or system to represent the images in my head that this world gave me. Between the ages of 16 and 26, I made a list of some 30 essential questions that reunited science and art history. This questionnaire provided an experimental period of creating and destroying artworks over a period of fifteen years. In 2000, when I was 31, I managed to express one of the questions. This question : "How can I represent the string theory from quantum mechanics with painting techniques in the most minimalistic way possible?" More explanation can be found at Element-M in the text 'Paint threads: the origin’.
I needed a corresponding system for these new own techniques with which I wanted to express the answers to my questionnaire through my artworks. This became Element-M. This system formed the basis for representing the world as I experience it. I then made every choice within Element-M very consciously. The materials, the format and the design are not separate from each other, but are complementary. Within Element-M I work with 3 shapes; the Solist, the Dualist and the Cycles. Each form stands alone but at the same time is not separate from the other two forms. On the page entitled Element-M you can read a detailed explanation about this. During the experimental period it was possible for me to have a remote studio. Since the year 2000, however, it has been essential for me to have a studio at home. This makes it possible to work on the artworks at any time in a way where the artwork is part of the life I live. Each work of art is unique and contains a piece of the creator's soul. For me as an artist time is 'one line' which means that I can sometimes work on a work of art over a long period of years before the work has reached the final stage.
I hope to surprise the viewer with my own visual language / signature that will evoke questions and amazement at every encounter. Sometimes unconsciously, sometimes consciously. My artworks don't need an explanation to be understood. If you wish, I invite you to read this page with the first 10 topics of Element-M.
At this page I will try to explain the origin of my artworks.
Element-M stands symbol for an intensive, conscious form of observation: the observation mode. It represents an investigation into the essence of our ability to perceive; the state of being an observer of the outside world (the reality that surrounds us) and of our inner world (the being that we are). Observation requires focus; a lively, curious, penetrating and receptive mind.
The M in Element-M is a symbol of meditation, pure attention, absolute consciousness of the here-and-now, free from judgemental thinking. Standing still, literally and figuratively, when we are engaged in observation. When tilted, M becomes Σ, the letter sigma from the Greek alphabet and the mathematical symbol for addition. In a metaphorical sense, it is a symbol of the whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
If you are receptive in your perception, this has the power to move you, and to evoke questions. Questions to which you want to find an answer because they are of crucial importance, the breeding ground of a creative process from which a new imagery or sculptural language emerges. A cycle of creating and recreating the order and chaos from which a work of art is ultimately born. A reality that overwhelms you emotionally, that leaves you in awe of the inexplicable. That is the world of M, the mystery.
Source of creation
On the basis of information and images that arise intuitively from the observation mode, I enter artistically uncharted territory. Next, I seek a way to translate this inspiration or ‘givenness’ from the domain of Element-M into concrete design and related concepts. That is the stage of analysing and rearranging my artistic reality, and of naming the essence of the objects that emerge from the creative process that is an inextricable part of this; the world of the actual and the tangible.
This is how the trinity of the objects I refer to as Soloist, Dualist and Cycles came into being. Objects in which the number six plays a crucial role, such as the basic hexagonal shape that resembles the cells of a honeycomb. And in the six dimensions that I perceive when I create and observe my works of art. As if a second x, y and z axis were woven through our three-dimensional world.
Expressed in words that are, by definition, inadequate for this purpose: ‘All of life feels like a Dualism that may continue to exist, as long as Soloist gives it its energy, until Cycles takes over.’ From a philosophical perspective, Soloist represents the soul, Dualist thought and Cycles matter. In the creative process, I break down the barriers between these separate domains by connecting them and allowing them to interact. This is similar to the interference of light waves. This approach forms the basis for the working method from which the layering in my work originates. This is the world that I envision when creating my works of art: a universe of unseen dimensions for the attentive observer who is able to surrender to it.
The dimensions of the three shapes
Small things or changes can inspire me tremendously. I have noticed this more and more in the past few years. I see it as a scenario of the ‘butterfly effect’ that influences our reality.
The death of my mother made me realise that I can never see or touch her face again. The light in her eyes is extinguished for me. This thought provoked the following insight. As long as human have existed or will live with other members of their species, it is impossible to look at your own face in the same way that you look at the face of someone else. I could always see my mother’s face as her son. But I could never experience it in the same way as she saw my face. Everyone encounters this impossibility in their communication with others. The closest thing to this essentially impossible experience of seeing yourself as others see you is looking at your own reflection in the mirror. Or the way identical twins perceive one another when looking at each other. But even then, this is only a weak reflection of the essence of how a human being can perceive the other ‘in his totality’. This sense of limitation in our ability to perceive ourselves as through the eyes of other people leads to a new way of seeing in my work. For years, I have been struggling with finding the right size and shape for my creative work.
One morning, I sketched some hexagons of different sizes. I hung these on the wall and looked at them for four hours. After a contemplative selection, one sketch remained. A hexagon just about the size of a face as you would see this looking at someone during a conversation. That same day, I made my first hexagon of this size from plywood. Next, I picked up one of the objects I have created that I call Soloist, and immediately knew that the hexagon of this size as a background would become the space in which my Soloist object could be placed. The following week, I divided the hexagon and unfolded it, as it were, thus creating the background for my Dualist objects. A few days later, I made an upwards and downwards-moving shape out of the hexagon. That shape refers to the wavelengths in physics and became the background for my Cycles objects. Together with my ‘paint threads’, this form refers to the vibrations in the reality of quantum mechanics.
I increasingly use these ‘paint threads’ as a characteristic element in my work. After many years of intensive research, I have completed the first 30 works of art. I am finally able to experience the degree of artistic peace I need for my further development in this. I realise that technique is of no importance if the image that is created is innovative. The final result is also more important than the effort and time it took to create it. It is only through the energy I put into it that it is given a right to exist.
Through the media, I follow science and its evolution in the technology race towards new developments. Artificial intelligence is coming at us at an unstoppable pace. This raises the question of how we, as human beings, can safeguard our emotional balance. In my work – the objects – I experience the infinite possibility of the ‘elements’ given to us by our reality, time and again. As soon as this any fundamental changes are made to this reality, the impact you experience is enormous – like what happens when you lose the familiar face of your mother or a loved one. But it can also be the birth of a new creation.
Why did Dualist take this form?
Dualist is like a book that is left lying open. Or a butterfly, symbolising the ‘Butterfly effect’. Or the two cerebral hemispheres. Or a Rorschach inkblot, as the representation of a square. All of these descriptions can be used, but to me, the form of Dualist is essentially the representation of two time zones colliding, each giving us a chance to experience the ‘now’ that arises from this. In other words, it is the moment between two successive thoughts. Again, the size is approximately equal to that of the face of a person with whom you are speaking, with a diameter of approximately 25 to 28 centimetres. The intimacy, the beauty of a face is indescribable.
No squares or rectangles
While working on the shapes described above, I was suddenly reminded of the dimensions of my earlier work. I don’t know if I have ever described this, but there is a reason why my works of art have certain shapes. During one of my visits to China, I was hit by a strong realisation concerning shapes that I never wanted to use again.
One day, I was walking along a huge boulevard in the city of Guangzhou. This boulevard was like the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, but longer and with larger, extremely luxurious shops. All well-known Western brands were amply represented here. Between two of these chain stores was a building with Chinese characters on the façade, behind which you could read the word ‘Gallery’ in English. Somehow, my attention was drawn to this. I walked in through the sliding doors and, between the concrete pillars to the left and right, extending from the front to the back of the room, I saw stacks of framed or rolled-up works of art everywhere. And all these works of art were square or rectangular in shape. The surface area of this huge art gallery corresponded to that of a large car park in one of our metropolises. At the far end of the room, I saw a Chinese man sitting behind a big desk. I walked up to him and he asked me in poor English: ‘Yes, can I help you?’ I asked him how much the works cost. He said the works were for sale at a price starting from 10,000 US dollars. And that I could choose from thousands of works. These works were part of the immense number of Chinese paintings and works of art that have come on the market in recent years. Both contemporary and classical, traditional work. And, generally speaking, every time I picked an object from the rows, I saw mainly illustrative and decorative work. It was at that moment that I realised how dominantly the frame influences the work depicted. Everything I saw there, rows and rows of art, all the work was framed in a square or rectangular frame. The ‘universal’ look of each unique piece of work is achieved by framing it in a square or rectangular shape. As if the work of art had no right to exist in another form. This experience prompted me to never again make use a rectangular or square frame for my own works of art.
My choice of the hexagon or a shape derived from it as a frame for the Soloist, Dualist and Cycles series is thus a deliberate part of my work. I might add that the Dualist is actually also a diptych. The contours of Dualist make it, as it were, two surfaces that collide in their expression for the viewer. Therefore, in my opinion, the same thing happens as when I myself am looking at other well-known diptychs. An experience similar to the collision of two particles in a particle accelerator. Just as Dualist refers to a diptych, Cycles is a triptych based on the wavelength as a frequency of artistic expression .
Paint threads: the origin
On a walk in the woods, I noticed some spider webs with very fine dew drops on them. Years, ago, was when I was at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, a similar image put the idea of making paint threads into head. I worked with acrylic paint a lot in those days, and regularly spent some time in the South of France. In the vicinity of the Rhone River, where I went fishing, I often encountered spider webs with brilliant dewdrops glistening on the individual threads in the morning sun.
In my studio, where I used to make big paintings using acrylic paint, I always found long, dried-up drip marks on the plywood board when I removed the paper. One day I lifted them off, one by one, with a knife – with the idea of using this brightly coloured collection in a painting at some point in time. Then I noticed a strand of linen thread, from one of my canvases, on one of those paint drips. This filament of paint looked exactly like the dewdrops in the spider web!
Later, I fine-tuned the idea of the paint threads in terms of technique by making a thicker, composite thread out of thin strands of acrylic paint in different colours. This became a plait of twisted ‘fibres’, similar to what you get when you make a rope. In addition to this, a study of paint brushes prompted the use of their bristles as threads which I incorporate into the surface of my objects. Material from painting used for sculpting. I cannot get any closer to the source than that. The distance from A to B covered by the paint thread refers to the brush stroke; the path taken by the bristles of the painter’s brush. The symbolism of elapsed time solidified in paint, the ephemeral immortalised in a moment. Like a child at the cradle of its own creation, the quantum mechanics of minimalist painting. The paint thread was born!
Artistic and cultural-historical context of paint threads
In my quest for the right composition for my paint threads, I conducted extensive research into paint brushes, in which I examined the various more or less commonly used types of brushes, and the materials from which they were made – both in the past and in the present. In this, I paid special attention to the bristles. These can be made from hair derived from martens, squirrels, pigs, badgers, camels, otters, foxes, sheep, ermines and even human begins. Of course, they can also be made from synthetic fibres, such as nylon. The brushes themselves were once made from such materials as whalebone. I ultimately selected horsehair for my own work. The main reason for this is the symbolic and mythological significance of the horse in the history of mankind and its art, ranging from Palaeolithic cave paintings to contemporary painting and sculpture. Horses are also present in literature, classical and other music, and psychology, often depicted as a source of strength and vitality. Or as a bearer of death and sacrificial animal in primitive rituals. Or as a symbol of pride and lust.
To me, the significance of my paint threads more or less corresponds to the symbolic and mythological meaning of horsehair. The difference in this particular case is that the threads of paint even better symbolise the travelling of the brush stroke in time, through which its creation as the ultimate expression of quantum mechanics and string theory expresses through the technique of painting technique.
When I lived in Montpellier, I had lessons on Saturday afternoons from a painting teacher at the École des Beaux-Arts Fabre. He taught me everything about making different types of paint from pigment powder and binding agents. One day, he told me a story about Vincent van Gogh. He told me how he used bits of woollen thread to get a better idea of the envisioned result when combining colours. By holding the balls of wool next to each other or winding the threads of different colours around one another, he was able to better discern the effect that the various colours produced on each other. This was a revelation to me! Still, that didn’t answer my question about how to make my own threads of paint. And my painting teacher could not help me with this either. However, he did advise me to persevere in my experimentation until I found the right composition of materials to make paint threads one day.
Thread, yarn and other fibres have always played an important role in painting and sculpture. The thread and yarn in my objects refer to this historical given. For centuries, the quality of the canvas was determined by the quality of the linen fibre, the strength of the thread from which it was made and the weaving technique used. In my own work, I try to use and display these historical materials in a new way – a voyage of discovery that Van Gogh and other artists before him also made by using coloured woollen threads and yarn to perceive colour combinations from nature in order to reproduce these by themselves. By extension, I see my threads of paint as a multidimensional colour plane in which the length and thickness align the intention of time in space.
In retrospect, I can say that my method of producing paint threads bears similarities to Van Gogh’s use of woollen yarn to compose his colour palette. Mixing different colours in paint threads by weaving the twisted threads together is a delicate undertaking.
Paint threads in my work, a synthesis
Every time I do this, I am surprised at how unique each thread of paint is, in terms of shape, thickness, length, colour composition and evocative power. I consider the fact that no two threads of paint are the same a compliment to myself as a designer. After all, painting with a brush is and remains a time-consuming craft that requires extreme patience and stamina.
While making paint threads, I have often thought about the significance of threads in our daily lives. About their function as a connecting factor. Our brains, the internet with its fibre optic cables and all kinds of other networks are made up of a jumble of threads. My threads of paint symbolise the connecting aspect of all these different networks as carriers of information. They convey the information of the painted image as the history of painting and reproduce this in a three-dimensional form.
I realise that my objects symbolise man’s inner struggle with the reality in which he is trapped. As an inseparable part of this reality and its natural laws, it is only possible to find a new balance in this by examining, rearranging and making use of all matter and its properties. This is a symbiotic balance, as it was in the time when art and science were still an indivisible discipline. By extension, I consider the creation of my work to be a continuous struggle to give expression to this symbiotic balance. The objects are what they are, just as cave paintings were the silent mouthpiece of their creators for thousands of years. The same applies to an everyday household object or, for example, a recently developed material such as graphene. The choices I make in terms of materials and colours result from the artistic intertwining of my own life experience with my passion for art and its history.
Capsule Pressing, the paint capsule as a medicine
I recently revived an idea from my days at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and came up with a suitable name for it: ‘Capsule Pressing’. The method concerns crushing paint capsules between several layers of suitable material.
At that time, in the late 1980s, a notion that had reached us from the United States that painting as an artistic medium was doomed constantly hovered in the background. As if painting were old and sick, and no longer had the strength to express the essence of the new spirit of the times, in contrast to conceptual and minimalist art, which is still young and vigorous as a form of artistic expression. What was conveniently forgotten was that in 1918 – more than half a century earlier – Marcel Duchamp had also declared the art of painting to be dead.
Despite the prevailing opinion at this point in time that painting was an outdated art form, I – as a nineteen-year-old student at the beginning of my academic training – was keen to experiment with it. I thought it would be interesting to use an old printing press which stood in our house. The idea was to compress several layers of cheesecloth (the thinnest type of cotton on which you can paint) into a single whole with paint or pigment balls inserted between the layers. However, I encountered the problem that balls like these could not be obtained anywhere. And I did not know how to produce them.
At the end of 2019, I realised that this concept, which I had not executed at that time, was still worthwhile and decided to pick up where I left off. For a week, I rummaged through my father’s extensive storage area for our old printing press – in vain. Finally, I heard from him that he had sold it years ago. Shortly afterwards, I bought a second-hand, almost identical press.
In the meantime, I have made a few changes to the original concept. I replaced the cheesecloth with layered fibreglass canvas and found a solution for the paint or pigment balls in the form of empty medicine capsules of vegan origin. I fill these capsules, in various sizes, with paint in different colours and then place them between the layers of fibreglass. Next, I print the whole thing with the printing press.
I am very pleased with my recent results. I can now create the desired layering effect in the fibreglass canvas, with either a more open or a more dense texture, filled with paint from the crushed capsules. I am now trying to discover whether I can use capsules filled with pigment powder instead of paint in a similar way. I suspect that this has a good chance of success if I apply enough glue to the fibreglass canvas so that the individual pigments do not get mixed up in the different layers.
Has painting been almost dead and buried for the past century? Everything but. Metaphorically speaking, I see the use of my paint capsules as a healing medicine for an art form that is essentially still alive and kicking. I call this special painting technique Capsule Pressing, indicated as such on the back of my work with C.P.
My works of art, the creative process
The works I create are preceded by thousands of decisions. A single object already requires hundreds of decisions to be made; choices concerning the overall as well as the more specific aspects of the design or about materials and the use of colour. The more I am aware of all these choices, the more clearly I understand that this creative process is a path of trial and error. An inner struggle, of which fear of failure is an intrinsic part. Will I or will I not be able to once again succeed in reaching at least the level of earlier work that I experienced as highly successful? This artistic tension builds up again after each completed work, as a challenge to go one step further. Not only with regard to the technical aspect when you enter uncharted territory concerning the way in which materials react, but also in the field of expression, with which I want to continually expand my reach through the knowledge gradually being acquired. In this sense, this permanent journey of discovery is a key characteristic of my identity as an artist, an intrinsic part of my signature. Balancing on the edge of insanity to create what has never been seen before by human eyes.
Art is the language of attention. As such, it resides in the company of the language of love. Elementary facts that are, principally speaking, comprehensible to every person. By consciously looking at art, a person’s cognitive universe is expanded and his or her emotional life enriched. And in the effort to fathom a work of art, the viewer meets the artist. A meeting through the essence of that which the artist expressed through this work, and the dedication with which it was created. In this ‘reading’ of a work of art, its creator and its viewer merge into a unique artistic moment – unique because it is never exactly the same. Because the intensity and scope of attention as a creative process is, by definition, an event that can take place only once. In my opinion, this is exactly what art is about: the work of art as a creation that establishes a connection between the intention of the artist and the mind of the receptive viewer. That is the core, the most valuable dimension of art.
What is the story behind my works of art?
Through my choice of materials and the use of symbolic values, my objects refer to the history of art and science. Each object is a coordinate for determining the position of the work of art in the greater whole. In this sense, my Element M objects are reference points that can be compared to neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that facilitate communication within our nervous system and from that nervous system to muscle cells, for example. Or with the impulses created by data flows in computer networks. In this sense, my Element M objects are reflections of both microcosmic and macrocosmic worlds. Traces of the unknown, as observed by radio telescopes millions of light years away. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, reflections from the domain of electron microscopes. That is why I see my Element M objects as materialised abstractions. Works that draw, so to speak, from the same source as the aesthetics of pure mathematics or the beauty underlying astrophysical calculations.
My Element M objects are manifestations of what I call the Fundamental Frequency or Initial Harmony. In other words, the vertical light reflections seek an interactive balance between the stand-alone objects or elements thereof. The concept of Fundamental Frequency can be interpreted in many different ways: as music (sound), the golden section or the light of life, for example. You can also associate Fundamental Frequency with the Divine, the Universal or the background radiation of the Big Bang. Through my objects, I endeavour to give shape to the Fundamental Frequency in the broadest conceivable sense. But first and foremost, in the sense of the light that seeks connection, which I generate and manipulate through the work I create.
Solist - Dualist - Cycles
As explained in ‘The dimensions of the three shapes’, my objects are given three basic shapes: Soloist, Dualist and Cycles. I derive my inspiration for this work from nature, mathematics, quantum mechanics and the sphere as a basic shape. My objects all contain references, symbols, associations and a kinship with specific concepts. To me, these are essential aspects of the manner in which I regard my own work. And that is why I would like to share some information about this – if only by way of background information. However, this knowledge is not of crucial importance for anyone regarding my objects. A work must speak for itself, after all.
When creating my objects, my goal is to make use of a visual language that is as timeless as that used by primitive man expressing himself through his cave paintings. Or the way in which the Egyptians gave shape to their death cult. This is art whose eloquence – whether aesthetic or otherwise – can be understood by everyone, not only in their own era but also millennia after its creation. Apart from this, non-figurative art – just like figurative art – can possess an inherent, universal beauty that transcends the mark of the time in which it was created and can therefore still be ‘read’ in the future, however distant.
Soloist refers to myself, the maker of the work, and symbolises the lone wolf, the individual who walks a path towards the horizon without ever reaching it. However, despite this, every step he takes also has a horizon, a vanishing point, of its own.
Dualist refers to the diptych in painting, and symbolises division or splitting up, as, for example, in cell division. It is also about thinking in terms of opposites: the North Pole and the South Pole, human development versus the evolution of the earth and nature and the emergence of new life.
Cycles refers to the triptych in painting and symbolises mathematics, quantum mechanics, the universe or the universal.
Glass tubes (Durham)
One day at work I received six Durham glass tubes of different lengths from the laboratory. As soon as I looked at them, an image of painted wire in such a tube came to me. I wanted to use this in my objects in combination with polymer clay.
I was immediately satisfied with the result of the first test I did with threads of paint in a Durham tube. The effect thus produced triggers the same feeling you get when you see a painting behind glass in a museum. Depending on the incidence and intensity of light, the way in which the viewer perceives the painting or, in this case, the threads of paint changes. Apart from shielding and therefore protecting the threads, the glass also puts more distance between the object and the viewer. And that is precisely what I wanted to achieve.
Why put threads of paint in a glass tube?
Works of art behind glass: this is something that you see more and more frequently in museums. The result is a somewhat alienating experience for the beholder, particularly in the case of paintings. The reflection of the glass and the light often make the colours of the painting appear slightly different, particularly in rooms that are illuminated with artificial light and where many other visitors pass by.
During a recent visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, one of the objects I looked at again was Rembrandt’s Night Watch. This was a completely different experience compared to the one I had when I was a child. I remember how, alone with my father, I once stood in front of The Night Watch for more than half an hour, letting the work gradually sink in. There were no other museum visitors around us – something you cannot even imagine these days. In those days, paintings were not yet exhibited behind glass or protected through all kinds of other security measures. This is one of the reasons why I consider the special viewing experience of my youth to be a great privilege.
In retrospect, this experience has undoubtedly influenced my way of thinking and my vision of creating my own work. The confrontation with paint behind a sheet of glass was an annoyance. An annoyance with potential, because I wanted to transform this into an idea that would be useful for my own objects particularly on account of the side effect generated by the interesting effect produced by light. For a long time, I have been wondering what I could do to give concrete shape to this idea. The moment I saw the Durham tubes, I knew that I had found the solution.
‘Empty canvases’ is my designation for a strong, coarsely woven fabric made from plastic as a basic element for the objects I make.
Based on my former experience as a painter, I recently remade my acquaintance with the process of painting and the painting as the result of this process. Historically speaking, the linen canvas is the successor to the wooden panel in painting. This, in turn, was preceded by the fresco: a wall painting with water colours on wet chalk, and cave paintings, to name a few. Usually, the linen is initially prepared with a primer such as gesso as an undercoat, onto which the oil paint or tempera was applied.
Sometimes, a painter may choose to work directly on an unprepared canvas. In this process, the tiny pores in the linen are painted ‘shut’ by the first layers of paint. On this surface, the painter builds up his painting, layer by layer, working from dark to light, applying the last few layers almost transparently. This has been the traditional way of painting for ages, and a method that is still frequently used in contemporary painting.
For my own objects (Solist, Dualist and Cycles), I went in search of a medium in which all layers – whether of paint or any other material – remain visible, if desired. This means that the space between the different layers must continue to reflect the light. I also wanted to be able to apply three-dimensional forms of various materials between the different layers. All of this calls for a strong, transparent material that is also extremely durable. Moreover, I wanted this material to symbolise a network – like the internet, a network of roads, or our nervous system. Thin, translucent fabrics or mesh plaits (e.g. fibreglass mesh, polyester mesh and metal mesh) are ideally suited for this purpose. Using these and many other types of gauze, I was finally able to make my ‘empty canvases’. ‘Empty’, because this layered structure of fibres and gauze forms the background for a three-dimensional object and threads of paint.
Using a method called ‘capsule-pressing’, I create a painted background in my objects with various techniques, which is painted partly open or partly or entirely shut. In contrast to the traditional painting technique in which, after many layers of paint, often only the last layers reflect the light, my own painting technique makes it possible to reflect a multitude of layers of colour simultaneously. This is possible thanks to the open, layered structure of the painted fibres and gauze, in which the light and its reflection are given free play. All these reflections create an extraordinarily rich and varied palette of colours.
Am I primarily an artist or primarily an outsider? Or are the two an extension of each other in my case, as a maker of objects with an explicit reference to art history and human evolution? Man as homo sapiens, the intelligent primate who expresses himself in symbolic forms of communication such as language and art. Yes, but in this context I prefer to speak of man as homo sapiens animale. Man as a human animal, because the term human animal explicitly refers to our kinship with the animal kingdom, rather than a copy of a divine creature that stands above the animal kingdom. A creature that considers itself entitled to exploit animals and deplete the natural sources of life. A creature to whom treating of all living creatures with the deepest respect is not matter-of-course.
The above considerations inspire me to refer to the human animal in my objects. This is actually a logical step, because if we look at history – and particularly art history – from this perspective, we come across all kinds of images or representations of the human animal. Here are some examples: the Mesopotamian form of a bull or lion with eagle wings and a human head; the Sirens with the body of a bird and the head of a woman, and the Centaur or horse-man, both from Greek mythology; the Egyptian Sphinx with the body of a lion and the head of a man or woman; the mediaeval mermaid, half woman and half fish; the animal-human creatures on The Last Judgement by Hieronymus Bosch. The close relationship between humans and animals can also be seen in a completely different field, namely that of medical science. For here, nature – and animals in particular – are a source of inspiration for the development of medicines based on genetic engineering and stem cell research, for example.
Establishing concrete references to the human animal in my objects is still quite difficult, because the representation of this in my head is abstract. Therefore, I am always looking for the most suitable way to represent the metaphor of the human animal in my objects. Although I think that a non-figurative elaboration of the metaphor is possible, principally speaking, I somehow feel that the representation of the human animal also requires at least a figurative component. Perhaps that is one of the main reasons why I use the hexagon as the basic shape in my objects: the hexagonal cell, the building block of the honeycomb, as a reference to the close relationship between humans and animals in general and bees in particular. Bees, due to their very nature as pollinating agents for seed plants, are of crucial importance to our ecosystem. In this sense, the human animal also refers to our responsibility as human beings to protect the earth, nature and the animal kingdom from which we, after all, are descended and of which we are a part.
I have spent the past thirty years in developing a three-dimensional technique for mixing colours and their reflection in the same way that I, as a painter, once mixed colours on the flat surface of a canvas. The reflection of colours not only depends on the intensity, the wavelength or frequency and the angle of incidence of the light; it is also related to the permeability or the reflective, absorbent and conductive properties of the medium on which the light falls. Spatial painting with light reflections is therefore a complex matter. Fear therefore creeps up on me every time I slowly and painstakingly endeavour to finish the initial work on an object. Fear that, once again, I will not be able to achieve the picturesque blending of colour reflections that I first observed at the age of eight after riding my bicycle into a parked car. Because of the concussion I suffered, my vision had been affected in an extraordinary way for three weeks, and I saw how different colours are reflected, how they relate to each other and how they influence each other. One morning, however, I woke up and saw everything as it was before the accident. This left me with a recurring question: can I make something that will allow me to share this unique experience of reality with others?
To fulfil my wish of sharing this extraordinary experience of the reflection of colours with others, my journey has taken me along many different paths. At art school I investigated the reflective properties of mixed pigments with various painting techniques. At university, I discovered the world of digital techniques (3D, virtual reality, animation, holography and laser applications). Later, I tried to find a technique to make ‘my experience’ visible to others through light boxes and objects. My diary sketches from that time are personal notes in which I recorded my observations and investigations, with the arts and sciences as a reference point. Repeatedly, even after a successful exhibition, I have destroyed my works of art because the result did not correspond to the unique experience I wanted to express. I now know why I kept failing in this endeavour.
Uni and Fundamental frequency
Our reality consists of numerous interferences, the interplay or mutual opposition of waves – such as light waves – in the same place and time. A phenomenon you can observe, for example, in the play of light and dark and the shifting colour patterns in dew drops and the threads in a spider web. And the most elementary shape is the sphere, from which, principally speaking, all other shapes – even the most angular – are constructed at the core.
These basic principles form the basis of what I call the Fundamental Frequency: vertical light reflections that search for an interactive balance between the objects or elements in themselves.
In order to share my extraordinary experience of the reflections of colours with others, I must therefore create my objects with a solid understanding of the workings of the Fundamental Frequency and the physical principles, particularly the interference of the underlying light waves. Within that constellation, each object reflects the light in its own way, has its own unique appearance and is thus a unique creature of its own. This whole is the world of Uni, in which I create a three-dimensional mixture of colours and their reflections.