Sunday, 11 October 2009

Reminiscences of childhood

It was a time when you could still park your car in front of the department store in the centre of town. No circular roads or circulation plans. Sunday afternoon, fivish, after dark. Return from a visit to our relatives in the southern part of town.
I used to look through the window of our Volkswagen Beetle. Neon signs, shop's windows, the church tower, statues.

Bronze statues.

The Big Nude Lass.

(My mother told me the locals called her so: t Grote Blote Wicht)

Their mother must be dead...

(I felt pity for them, every time we passed)

Is that a statue?

(It was, my dad told me)

But He looks so different there...

(a stern and grim Christ of the Sacred Heart, whitish sandstone)

Reminiscences of childhood. They have no order

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Another flight to Egypt

Started April 2009
(Prepared the oak log, did some minor chipping to shape the heads)
I had already noticed that there was movement and speed in the accidental shape of the log. Mother and Child - on flight.
Eternal theme - mothers protecting children. Maryam and Yishua Ben Yussuf.
Read this book by Ilan Pappe about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Same kind of picture but less speed.

I have observed them all summer, so it is about time I got them out of the woord.
But I don't know where to start yet.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


"My hole is warm and full of light"
"Perhaps I like Louis Armstrong because he's made poetry out of being invisible"
Invisible Man [Ralph Ellison]

Monday, 31 August 2009

Black is black

If it's Optic White, it's the Right White

I was working in my shed the other day, it's crammed but cosy and light. And while I was busy gouging and sculpting, my new Charlie Parker CD just fitted in perfectly.
I want my Kple Kple mask painted black
So I had to paint it white first.

Keep America Pure with Liberty Paints.
The association just could not be avoided.
It's been more than twenty years since I read Invisible Man but my notions of 'black', 'white', 'visible' and 'invisible' have never been the same again.
So I had to hide the wood and paint it black all over.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Kple kple


Holy see turned into an African mask.
Completed today.
To be painted BLACK

The metamorphosis.

The main disc was (jig)sawn from the lid; the seat was cut up and turned into the horns. By glueing together numerous bits and pieces I managed to shape the mask as I wanted it to be. Sawdust and polyurethane glue make a perfect putty to smoothe anything.

The Idea
Wood is something precious. It is wonderful to make art from waste. This process is just as important as the result
I like Baule art and I do like the Kple Kple mask. Now was the occasion to make one.
More about the Kple Kple mask

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Holy See

Today we removed the washbasin, wall tiles, toilet tank and seat.
The wooden seat and lid are to be recycled - my way ;-]

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Did the lettering today and applied a glare finish.
One eye changed colour in the process.

Friday, 3 July 2009


Painting -or sculpting- has to be done in lost moments. Sometimes I have only a mere quarter of an hour, sometimes a little longer. This picture was taken after dark last night - while I sat musing on how to continue.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Inspiration while at work

I do not need to hold a brush to be at work.

I am hooked on Russian icons and I am an atheist. The two do go together. While I do respect religions and people's religious feelings, mine is the observer's view.
I think dendrochronologic dating, dna research and a scientific approach might bust quite a myth or two, without diminishing the interest or fascination of the subject.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Background and lettering

Made the background whiter today, but older paint layers are still visible - like a palimpsest. Lettering on an old sheet, to find out the right position. Did some work on the halo as well... Don't know if I should add lines to the cross' arms (see below).

Monday, 15 June 2009

Old Church Slavonic

Meanwhile, I started decyphering the callicraphy on the Nerukotvornyi Icon and I got as far as
which would mean something like
Image/icon of Jesus Christ, Our Lord God the Saviour
But I am not an expert in Church Slavonic, so I would welcome any comments.

That was yesterday. Found some other texts in a catalog of Early Printed Cyrillic Books today.
...gospoda nashego Isusa Khrista
...rozhdestva Gospoda Boga i spasa nashego Īsusa Khrista
In addition, closer inspection of a detailed scan revealed the reading UBRU[S]
Thus making

UBRUS/OUBROUS seems to denote 'towel' in OCS
according to Wiktionary
Or kerchief - a reference to the Mandylion

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Dancing Tzitziot

Fringes of the tallit (prayer shawl).

Or are they peyos

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Sad day - bad day

[text in progress]

They were playing Cinderella Rockefella in the department store, so I must have been about eight. My parents were probably buying a lamp or an electric hand mixer on the same floor. I was bored and I turned over the record sleeves. Matthäus Passion it read - but that was all foreign language to me. It was the painting that horrified me.

I still don't know what upset me more. The orange, poisonous colour of the blood, or the thorns all over the body, or the crossbeam bent under the weight of the dead body. He was dead, I could tell by the halfopen mouth. Was this really the same as the friendly young man in white, with his neat orange sash [orange it was, not red, on the stained glass window in our Lutheran church]? I could not believe it. And yet I felt it must be so. But he looked squalid and I sort of felt guilty noticing it. One could not tell where the thorns ended and the hair began. But long hair was squalid in those days anyway, at least when worn by men.

One or two years before that, a slightly older boy living nearby, had told that God was Jesus' father. That did not really upset me. Jesus was the name of that baby which had something to do with Christmas Trees. Then another boy started discussing the death on the cross. And I imagined a little baby bundle tied to the midst of a cross. It was a concrete cross, the first boy said. And I imagined the washing line pole that my father got over his shin - he nearly fainted and my mother was almost in tears. Then they were talking about nails 'crossed' through the hands and I imagined a quincunx-like pattern. We were protestants and our part of the country was protestant. Crucifixes were a rarity.

My parents sent me to Sunday school, where I could ask all the questions that I wanted to ask. And the first visit was a hit. Jephta's daughter, but I did not fully understand why she was burned at the stake. Anyway I made a drawing of it.
We had to draw the pictures ourselves, we were not shown any.
Later, around Easter, I made a pencil drawing of the cross [cast in one piece, still concrete?] men holding Jesus, a hammer and a box of nails.

A children's anthology, published by the Dutch Labour Press, proved rather informative, with a crucifixion story after a combined version of the four gospels. And then there were Catholic families, with crucifixes in their living rooms. Since it was a strictly observed custom in the Netherlands to have all curtains opened [for honest people have nothing to hide], I could easily peep into some houses while on my way to school, to satisfy my curiosity.

What did Jesus look like?
I asked my mother how they knew.
She said that the artists had seen it with their inner eyes.

[to be continued]

In 2012 I  went to see the Issenheim Altar in Colmar, France.
It was so huge and overwhelming.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Trinity Sunday

Still, more than I had ever expected, in just three evenings.
[And I started on a second panel in the meantime]

Sunday, 31 May 2009


The Zagotovka (Preparation of the panel).
After applying the povoloka (from an old bedroom curtain), several layers of levkas (gesso)were applied, and sanded. The old sketching (see 30/04/2009) was lost in this process.
Today, Pentecost, it seemed the appropriate time to take the plunge and start sketching.
The new one, fortunately, turned out not too radically different from the old one. And again, this felt like a miracle.

Gilding (pozolota)
My budget spray can worked out well, and the sunlight did the rest.

Spas bo Voskrese

Monday, 11 May 2009


What happens if you wipe a wet face with a towel and then make a negative?
This is the cloth the iconboard is to be lined with, but since it is meant for the "Not Painted By Hands Icon" there is that association with the Turin Shroud so I had to do this little experiment. And I gessoed the edges of the icon board as well.

Action Painting

Acrilic Paint
Gold paint (spray can)
Palette knives
I got everything for about €15 in the Action Shop.
Simple Living Rules!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

HansK in GdansK

My encounter with Günter Grass' Flounder in the Ulica Mariacka (Mariengasse), Gdansk.

Meiner war und ist ein sogenannter Steinbutt ...
(Der Butt, S. 33-34)

More on the Steinbutt
The Psetta maxima or European Turbot (Steinbutt in German) has both eyes on the left side. The European Flounder (Platichthys flesus) however, has both eyes on its right side, as has Grass' etching on the book cover...
The stone relief in Gdansk is definitely a Turbot, not a flounder.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Spas nerukotvornyi

Or, the [Icon of the] Saviour Not-Made-By-Hands. I first saw this most impressive icon in the Uspensky Sobor(Cathedral of the Dormition) in the Moscow Kremlin in 1991.
It has been a favourite ever since, together with the Vladimirskaya and the Saviour of the Fiery Eye.

On this terrible day I found some peace of mind and some consolation in making a first sketch. The result was beyond all expectations. As if my hands had been guided. As if this face drew itself. As if theMan is Coming Around.

Another bargain

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


I took the sideboards of our IKEA bathroom cabinet and glued them together, on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday morning I sawed them to the right dimensions, and added "sponki" to strengthen the board.

In the afternoon I cut out the indentation or kovcheg with a router, hammer and chisel and did lots of sandpapering. A thin coat of linseed oil was applied.

This is going to be an icon board.
Povoloka (cloth) and levkas (gesso) have not been applied yet.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Dutch Cow

I scrapped my old bike today, as it was beyond repair.

Wheel of fortune - still that Wheel

Roue de Fortune - Roue à carrillons.
First seen in Koñforzh-Meilar a.k.a. Confort-Meil(l)ars, Finistère/Breizh in 2007

click here for Youtube clip

And then there's Marcel Duchamp's Roue de Bicyclette, of course.

Just a temporary gadget which I made today. I added bells but they can hardly be heard or seen in the clip. The neighbouring children kept moving the Wheel all afternoon, though.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Mother and Child - Refugees


Today - aka Holy Saturday - I made a start on a new work. Or rather, I started what had already started. After I had cleared the bad spots and worms' holes of this piece of oak I suddenly realized it was Her. Not the plaster Virgin but the archetypal Eleousa or Umilenie. The Mother, hurrying, one child on her arm, another, perhaps, well under way.

It's not just the Flight to Egypt, it is so much more. It is the Nakba, Darfur, Pogroms, Vertreibung. So many Mothers trying to protect their children.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Light in his eyes

Today I made the black in his eyes blacker

And if you look from the right angle you will notice that I also made the light lighter

He's getting more and more iconic.


The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
TS Eliot - East Coker

Thursday, 9 April 2009



Masque du jour
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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Green eyes

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I just can't help associating my Green Man with the oncoming Resurrection. This week..
whan Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
inspired hath in every holt and heeth
the tendre croppes...

To me it is just wonderful, adding eyes to a face, to the music of Bach's Matthäus Passion. It's the Man coming around

He knows.

Sunday, 5 April 2009