First, I’d like to know a bit about you — can you introduce yourself?
I’m from a small village near Amsterdam where I grew up between the fields below sea level. After high school I’ve lived in New Zealand shortly and then moved to The Hague, which has been my home base for the past ten years. Right now I’m in the process of moving to another European city, preferably London, but maybe Leipzig or Brussels.
You studied photography as an undergraduate, but since then your interests have shifted to painting — how did this come about?
In my photographic works I’ve always taken a more autonomous approach. I used to work a lot with collage, make scans of painted surfaces, layering found footage, paint over photo’s and making installations or still lives that I would photograph as a work. During graduation I didn’t make a single photo with a camera. I was all about stretching the medium to such extend that it gotten stretched into painting. The ‘getting dirty’ part was giving me energy and paint felt like a more flexible medium then photoshop in a weird way. I like the physicality of paint and layered surfaces, which make it more of an object than an image existing on a computer. I do still use part of photography in my current practice though, and I would always be interested in using multiple mediums simultaneously.
Tell me about your work! What interests you?
Where to begin! I have a fetish for the good lookin’, the superficial, the translucent, the smooth and the bright. I compose visual riddles that invite the eye to lust after its surface. With the commodification of daily visual experience, one is provoked to want more of something simply because of this first layer. In this way, i make abstracted layered surfaces of ‘naturalness’. I emulate by taking parts of the natural, or real, pull them apart, and reassemble them in a very distinct and rebellious way; dismissing taste as a relevant criteria.
A way to solve the riddle is to navigate through the notion of space, in painted lines or literal three-dimensionality. I play around a lot, forming space by stretching multi-layered canvasses and then create cut-outs on the top layer. I screw canvasses on top of each other, paste on three dimensional shapes and work a lot with the thickness, gloss, and structure of the paint itself. This created complex structure opposes the flatness of banal imagery and becomes physical: an elevated object, a thing.
I tend to surround myself with kitschy, shiny and plastic objects, most of it ‘Made in China’. In a modern mindset that takes into consideration issues such as global warming, it almost feels forbidden to like these things. I would like to find a way to figure out what my position is in a culture that not only emulates nature, but destroys it at the same time.
That is not to say that my works takes a politically charged standpoint, but being ‘of the now’ is integral to my practice. The titles are mostly sourced from, music and other pop culture and my surroundings. Next to that, geography is my old love: I can get crazy over natural phenomena, earthquakes, minerals; you name it. My ‘current state’ is a combination of all of the above and I think my work reflects that.
You completed a residency program in Leipzig at Pilotenkueche for four months — how did that influence what you worked on, or how you viewed your art practice?
Participating in the residency program in Leipzig was the best decision I made in a long time! I never experienced a period with working full-time on my practice before. The time and space provided gave me a huge production impulse. It was great to be in this big shared space and reflect upon the works with my new buddies while the works were still in progress. Next to that we were all giving each other tips and tricks. The whole experience made me realise that working like this is what I want to do, forever!
Do you do any research or preparation before beginning a new piece?
My research and preparation is happening non-stop. I save a lot of images that I find inspiring which forms some kind of database. When I’m in a random shop and see something to my liking, I’ll buy it ‘to use it later’ (such a hoarder). Sometimes I see an image before my eyes and sketch it up to see if it works. I also collage quite a lot, it’s a fun way to combine shapes, outlines and size. Before I really start to paint or paste a piece I look around my studio to see of which color of paint I have most left, mix it with gesso and give it a coloured base: I hate staring at a white canvas.
What is your studio like right now?
I’m a bit ‘in between’ studios at this moment. My older paintings are mixed with my camping gear on a pallet in a warehouse, and the ones I’m working on now are in a spare room in a friends house, that he offered me kindly to use it as a temporary workspace. I did attach some photo’s of my old beloved studio’s in The Hague and Leipzig.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that help you get in to the mode to create?
When I’m in my studio I do all the things that are bad for a person. Drink tons of coffee, smoke cigarettes without noticing, drink booze, listen to preferably cheesy music, dance like an idiot or get super grumpy and over emotional when I’m stuck. I’m chaotic and a hot mess when I’m working, but all of these things do get me going.
You’ve been applying to MFA programs and will be starting this fall in London? What are you most excited for? What is the most daunting thing?
I’m really excited to start the MA Painting at the Royal College of Art! I look forward to meeting new people, be in a different surrounding and have time and space again to produce and bring my work to the next level. Being in London during the process of Brexit is both exciting as daunting. Also, money issues are now getting to me and starting to freak me out.
What do you think is the most challenging part of pursuing an artistic practice, either professionally or creatively? How do you handle that?
Sometimes it feels like I need to justify myself continuously. A couple of years ago members of a right-winged Dutch populist party came up with the catchy term ‘left-winged hobby’ to describe art. It sticked around and is now used ironically by artists ourselves. This shows a mindset in which you really have to be confident in what you’re making, and that confidence is simply not always there. I handle with that to just keep on fasting and keep on looking at the future. I do believe in hard working and being ambitious, and that hopefully pays off one day.
Can you recall the best advice you’ve received so far?
What do you need most, or value most, as an artist?
Playtime and confidence.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m mostly applying for scholarships and funding (tips are very welcome!) so I could go to London. Also I’m working on a special wedding gift for my brother and trying to master the airbrush.
Anything else you would like to add?
Never trust Peter André.
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