Last week my boyfriend and I went to the Drents Museum in Assen, The Netherlands.
A year ago we went there too for the exhibition The Soviet Myth and this year the museum
managed to do an exhibition about North-Korean paintings: The Kim Utopia.
Without a doubt all paintings present are propaganda. Some were really beautiful and
detailed and others less so. I started wondering: is this art or craftsmanship? Are these artists
comfortable using oils? Do these artists enjoy what they’re doing? Some paintings looked like
they were done fast, a bit sloppy and without much joy. It looked like something that had to
be done without trying to make it more bearable, which is strange to me.
Were some of these people bad painters or would they just rather finish and move on to
more enjoyable work? I don’t know.
It was interesting to compare these paintings with their European counterparts. For instance,
when we take a painting like ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ by Jan Willem Pieneman, 1824
(Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, The Netherlands) we see a lot happening. The main characters
faces are lit up and painted very detailed. The others less so and sometimes left in a sketchy
state which gives the painting depth even when it’s cluttered.
Not so with ‘Death-defying protectors bound by the barrel of a gun’ by Kim Pong-nam (2002).
Again the main characters are very detailed but moving on to the rest of the painting the picture
is done in crude, thick brushstrokes. In itself quit nice but instead of working spacious it’s a
Also ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ depicts a historical event while the North-Korean painting depicts a
battle that never happened and works purely as propaganda: the North-Korean army supporting
their leader no matter what.
Because we went to both Soviet and North-Korean exhibitions it was hard not to compare
the two. In my opinion the Soviet paintings had a look of artists doing their thing in a
communist world but still very much propaganda. Most of the North-Korean art
looked like craftsmenship being used to depict a world that doesn’t exist.
Here are two youtube links (in Dutch) that allow to compare for yourself:
The Soviet Myth
The Kim Utopia
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The month of June is Classic Crime Month at the ABC. They asked me to paint two classic crime
fighters, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot (and a dead body). Here’s the result.
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Money, always a difficult subject. As an artist I don’t make a lot of money. I wish I could make
a living from my art and I’m really working hard to reach my goals but for the time being this is how it is.
To make art you need to have time. One needs time to put up a business etc. that’s why I
always had part-time jobs. I would work 2 to 3 days a week to have time to do my art.
From friends who are not in the art-business I sometimes hear how lucky I am that I have all
this freedom to do what I want and that I’m doing my dream job.
When I say it’s all about choices I sometimes get an angry glare. How dare I say such a thing,
don’t I know they are stuck with all these responsibilities and I’m the lucky one?!
The thing is that doing your dream job doesn’t mean you’re in a dreamy situation. My income
doesn’t leave much room for frivolities like new furniture (almost everything I own I inherited
from grandparents and such), going shopping, going out for dinner, owning a car, replacing
home appliances or even vacation.
My boyfriend wants me to join him on a little getaway somewhere in the Netherlands,
nothing fancy but I’m totally panicking about the fact that my income has become even less
since I lost my job and I’m not used to spending money on big things that are not even a
material thing that will last for 15 years or so! I know, I’m a tight ass when it comes to spending
Like I said, it’s a choice and I’m happy with mine. I tried the other thing and it didn’t work
for me. After food and sleep comes swooshing my brush or pencil on a piece of paper, that’s it!
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Just a short entry this week. This Sunday, 31st of May my colleagues and I at Studio
Grafisch Collectief Thoets open up our doors to the public.
We do this every year so friends, family and anyone who might be interested can have a
look at what we’ve been doing all year.
As a collective we also have a loyal group of donors that get a print made especially for
them and just them. This year the print was made by Jan Baas and Steven Toes. On the pic
below you can see them both working on the print.
Jan and Steven were inspired by the exhibition ‘the Oasis of Matisse’ that is now showing at
the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, because to us our studio is also like an oasis.
So everyone who is in the neighbourhood please feel welcome to stop by this Sunday!!
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little portrait of her. When it was finished I put it on Facebook and got some really nice
comments. My friend Sanneke Griepink, who is an artist too, replied: ‘Hey you can do portraits
too!’ And somehow that little remark made me think. Yes, I can do portraits too, in fact it was
my favourite thing to do as a teenager, draw my family, actors, popstars… When did I quit again?
Oh right, right after I finished art academy.
Somehow doing portraits became a bad thing.
In the years after that I did one portrait I really liked doing and then right after one I really
hated and never finished. I ended up passing on the commission to a befriended artist and never
doing a portrait again.
As it turns out I don’t hate doing portraits, I just need to stay close to a way of working that fits
me. Right now I’m working on a portrait of my brother and very much enjoying the process.
It’s not quite ready yet but still having fun and already looking forward to the next
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