A long time ago I had a solo exhibition. Due to complaints by visitors it had to close weeks before it should have ended. The works of art were exhibited at a medical center and the distorted bodies that I had painted reminded too much of ill and disabled people.
There was no way I could have known that years later I would be part of that same group.
It is nonsense not to want to be confronted with images or representations like that. What if all patients who are ill and disabled are kindly requested to hide behind closed curtains to keep them away from the ‘normal and healthy’ people, so that these ‘normal and healthy’ people are not bothered with this visual pollution?!
Being ill is like a nightmare while the world outside goes on, the minutes, hours and days go by. While lying down weeks turn into months. But I am still a human being, even though I sometimes feel like an alien. I feel estranged from everyday life, people around me and not for the least part from myself. I feel estranged from who I used to be and from what I was able to do.
I prefer to paint incomplete, impossible or distorted bodies. Those paintings are not about being disabled, but refer to general themes like fear, pain, sorrow or miscommunication. Things aren’t always difficult or sad. It can also be light and fun, like Little Ghost at the end of this article. I think that someone who is imperfect is not less interesting than the image of something that is complete, perfect or harmonious. I rather see reality. I do not deny the ugliness of existence.
By the way, after removing my paintings and etchings I felt that being criticized and censured like this was a very big compliment. People were touched by what I showed them, even though they didn’t like it. And for those who feel uneasy with ill people or the representation of it on a panel or paper: please look the other way.
If you want to know more about my art works, click here for more information (and click on the underlined ‘Toon meer’ for an English abstract about my work).
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This post is also available in: Dutch