My work consists of monumental paintings with a specific visual language. A recurring theme in my work is nature in its artificial form, as we know for example from zoos and natural history museums. Or the way landscapes and animals were presented through art history in fairy tales or movies. My work is full of art and cultural-historical quotations.
My graphic works form an integral part of my artistic practice, equivalent to my painted work, thanks to my stay at the Frans Masereel Centre. I dare to say that I became completely hooked on graphics and its expressive possibilities. I think my big collages is a new and contemporary approach to graphics which I like to deepen out.
I would like to make one or two large collages to portray the eclectic interior of a 'Tiki Bar during my stay. A collage made up of dozens of woodcuts, monotypes and copies. The work would formally be a continuation and deepening of the work that I created during my last stay but will be thematically something new.
The concept tiki culture arose around the 30s of the twentieth century in the United States. The style is inspired by the tiki carving art of the Maori culture.
During the 40s and 50s the interest in Polynesian culture was reinforced by US soldiers returning from the Pacific after World War II and the annexation of Hawaii as a state of the United States in 1959.
The tiki culture led to the opening of so-called Tiki bars, where exotic cocktails were poured in a tropical setting. The culture influenced also the design of theme restaurants, theme park attractions, movies, music (inspired by Hula), furniture and tropical styled cocktails. The architecture and decor is a strange mix of 50s modernism combined with a primitive, ethnic style: The Jetsons meet the Flintstones.
I find this cultural phenomenon very fascinating: it says something about the Western expansionism, its clichéd view of other cultures, the banalizing of those cultures, globalization, popular culture and our exotic desire. The tiki culture has nothing to do anymore with the original culture of the Polynesian people, but is an American idealization, banalization and magnification thereof. In the puritan America of the 50s many people dreamed about exotic islands in the South Pacific where islanders, not poisoned yet by modern civilization, live in harmony with nature ("the noble savage") and experience free love (the “challenging hula dancing island girl").
This so-called Orientalism or exoticism is of all time. During colonialism, Europeans projected all their ideals on the "exotic" world of the unknown by developing stereotypes and clichés. Also in art, we find countless examples: from Delacroix, over Gaughin till Elvis.
Ironically, the American pop culture has completely supplanted the actual culture of Hawaii: the cliché has won from the reality. Tourism made the exotic dream real.
The exotic interior of a Tiki bar consists entirely of carved wood; both the walls, the ceiling, the many decorations and statues. It's ideal to translate into woodcuts. Images and materials go together perfectly. It also refers indirectly to woodcuts of Gaughin, and later to the German expressionists who were likewise inspired by sculptures from Oceania.
I would stick the woodcuts together in a large collage with monotypes (wooden planks, tropical plants, bamboo, templates and wallpaper motifs) and copies.
04.01.2016 - 12.02.2016