Beneath the Surface
The Things We Cannot See
Bas’ work is about going beneath the surface. It explores what it means to be alive, to be ‘under’ someone’s skin and to be close to one’s vulnerability.
Through his Blue Series the external surface of ‘blue projections are a metaphor for the outside world, also revealing some of what lies below.
Other paintings go beneath the surface of what is perceived as masculine (Masculinity Redefined). The paintings are an invitation to go beyond the physical paint layer itself.
The physical object depicted is not the actual subject of these works. The subject itself is what is not there, that what isn’t painted. It is that which is unseen, but not unfelt.
Close to the Edge
Bas’ work invites the viewer to ask questions about:
- the edges and boundaries of conventional masculinity. It invites us to explore culturally defined gender norms. It reveals another side to masculinity and it pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a man.
- the edge of realistic painting and abstraction. Within the Blue Series for example: patterns of light, colors and shapes are an external visual reality. However underneath these obscuring patterns, exists the unadulterated, pure, and sometimes naked subject. The ‘naked’, rather than the ‘nude’ is a metaphor for the true self or ‘one without layer’.
- the edge of what is internal and what is external to a subject: the Persona and the Anima, the physical and the spirit.
- the edge of what can be done with paint itself. How much needs to be rendered fully and what can be left unpainted?
Bas: “Painting can be literal. A vase and flowers can be just that and nothing more. They can be used to present a painterly technique as a goal: qualities like light, color, harmony, or ‘nature’. For me, these are not reasons to paint. Rather, it is what they purvey or express. Therein lies the symbol or the shrouded: the unseen but not unfelt. This is my subject matter.”
The Maker and the Subject
Whilst painting there is no ‘mind’ or thoughts, just reactions and actions. There is a registering sense, but when rational thoughts come up, this concentration is usually broken or at its end. It is painting in a relaxed state of haste where the act of painting seems to be done by the implicit, spontaneous and automatic, part of oneself (again the unseen).
The external and physical side of the subject is only a means to an end.It is not ‘in the way’: it is the way in.
The purpose of the physical subject is to evoke feeling and to create the spark to start a painting. Evoking themes are often: pureness or (unshrouded) state of being, truth, freedom, integrity, compassionate acceptance, true colors, in search of Anima or the spirit and mostly: being close to this unveiled vulnerability.
The object or person painted is surprisingly never the subject. What the painting evokes in the viewer is the true subject. The painting is executed in such a way that the immaterial perception is undoubtedly present, although it is not actually painted. The goal is not to depict the thing, but the experience of it.
This holds true as well for the paint surface: the immaterial aspects (like light and patterning) are painted with high materiality. Layers of paint, underneath, on top, vague and clear, dissolve and materialize the visual realities of abstract shapes and color.
The paint and its application are a way into what is there. You could question whether this is a representation of the real objects, or if it functions more like a symbol: holding a myriad of interpretations for the viewer to explore. Thus, while the subjects are explored for their internal inherent qualities, in a sense from the inside out, painting works opposite: from the outside in.
The painting process itself is aimed at creation with the least amount of articulation, yet also in a painterly and interesting way. In a way this is in conflict with each other. Control of technique can fight with the need to let go and ‘go with the flow’ of the process. This could be called a maximal minimalist approach in a way. The purpose is to be aware, experience and see when ‘it’ is there, while there is as much left unpainted as is painted.
Bas: “A painting is good when my initial reaction and feeling is present. My fascination is somewhat frozen into matter when I paint. However, the reason to begin a work is not always clear at the start. Most times it does become clear once finished, but not always. I don’t think that is necessary. It’s most important that the work elicits a reaction and I believe viewers can sense this too.”
People are bad at seeing in general; the mind does a lot for them and fills in a lot of blanks. This makes things easier for them day to day; we see a tree as a tree. A painter generally sees more, like a photograph: everything can be in focus. Although by choosing certain elements (unconsciously) a personal representation is inevitable in painting and preferable too.
Bas: “I leave intentional ‘blanks’ so that the viewer must rely on their own brain to fill these in and remake a ‘realistic’ image inside their minds. As a result, a large part of the painting is created inside the mind of the viewer, which I find really interesting.”
You could say his work is reminiscent of symbolist poetry and art of the 19th Century. This is a non dogmatic mode of expression often lost today. It opens an avenue of meaningful and personal exploration for the viewer. Bas’ paintings invite questions. In this way, there is more than one theme to any painting.The ‘subject’ or ‘meaning’ is reliant on the viewer. Paintings are an invitation for people to explore their own interior realities and perceptions.
Bas: “Super spelled out works can be boring: what you see is what you get. Paintings by others that make me feel something when looking are what I find most interesting. I feel I can connect to the artist and feel the reason why they painted. I hope to do the same.”