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‘This serious play, which we call art, can’t be static. I mean, you have to keep learning how to play’

- Philip Guston

(or: a painter’s first duty is to be free)

Yesterday’s thread is still in (unfolding) business.

I haven’t been sleeping much… out of the rubble, new things can emerge. That whole dying to live thingy is rearing its head again, I guess easter-spring-time is doing its work.

My artist friend Jurriaan Wesselink (look him up!) sent me some quotes by the painter Philip Guston, I was intrigued, clicked the first video on youtube, it resonated.

‘it’s taken me years to come to the conclusion or to the belief that probably the only thing one can really learn is the capacity to be able to change’

I'm quite angry today. No fun. Something is breaking down. Something wants to get out of me. What? Why is this so difficult, bringing into form this whatever that wants out out OUT.

I watch mores Guston videos, something clicks, a thread in need of following. The narrator says: Guston reinvents himself. I'm thinking, does he mean re-invention or re-building, for I wrote about this yesterday. Re: rebuilding, was I talking about myself??

Minute 8:

Guston takes on a new surname. Something to hide behind? Is this re-invention, artificial renewal which has the opposite effect, getting further from himself…? I don’t know. Maybe, sometimes, distancing yourself from your self may at times be freeing, but I suspect that somewhere along the life-line, you will eventually have to bridge the gap to come home again. I don’t want to be a tree, but only me.

‘Whoever has learned to listen to a tree no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.’

  • Herman Hesse

I sure don’t want to be a tree, but be me me me me me me whatever that means, breaking something down, building something up, repeat, repeat, repeat repeat repeat that don’t sound neat neat neat, so let’s take this serious endeavor and play play play play play play play, don’t stay stay stay static, that would be problematic, for this serious play, which we call art, can’t be static so I have to keep learning how to play, keep learning how to play keep learning how to play


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Today was a day, April 9th 2024. First time I experienced this particular day, quite sure I won’t experience this day again.

On my way to do an interview about Francis of Assisi with Henk van Os, former director of the Rijksmuseum or the Rijks Museum, for, after its renovation, somehow, a SPACE opened up between Rijks & Museum. Rijks & Museum. That might be a good brand name as well. Maybe for the gift shop. Please exit through the gift shop! (Still one of the best films about art I’ve ever seen)

Sometimes that happens, you break down and from the rubble you re-invent or rebuild yourself and the old name no longer fitting, suddenly a new name appears. That’s one way of looking at it.

I guess the question is: do you re-invent, or re-build yourself? Reinvention has the artificial air of conceptual form and role-play, while rebuilding seems to come from the more grounding force of heartfelt renewal; not out of an excited teenage enthusiasm but out of necessity when life has broken down (part of) your structure, to then take the actual building blocks of experience and using them to rebuild a new, and more ‘sturdy’ form that can bear the brunt of reality.

I’m reading ‘the pillars of the earth’ by Ken Follett at the moment.

At the moment (in the book) Tom Builder is rebuilding a cathedral that was burnt down.

The cathedral was already dilapidated, now it’s in pieces.

Before the form broke down, the building had already lost its soul.

Tom had lost his wife and newborn baby just before arriving.

Ruins everywhere, it seems.

His wife’s dying wish was for Tom’s living wish to be fulfilled, that is to build a cathedral as beautiful as his talents and workmanship would allow. Through living out the soul’s desire, you (re)build yourself.

A newly appointed prior placed in charge of the cathedral was already working on a plan to re-invigorate the inside, the spiritual life of the place, the soul of the priory, before Tom arrived. Renewal starts from within, however, beauty is reflection of essence, and therefore a necessary companion. Another way of putting it: rebuilding always starts with the soul: our inner prior must first grasp the necessity, then, the inner builder comes into play, who can create new forms to match the re-ignited soul’s desire. Only in conjunction, can the process of rebuilding truly begin.

A new name for the cathedral may yet appear.

In the interview with Henk van Os, one conversational thread followed was Francis of Assisi, the saint who was born in 1181.

The book takes place in 1135.

Different time, different place, and yet, not too far away, in space nor time.

Rebuilding cathedrals in 1135, re-invigorating and emancipating faith from 1182 onwards, the necessities of the time sometimes forge surprising connected chains of being.

In the end, the interview with van Os turned out to be a conversation about the essence of story telling. Henk van Os is a master story teller, so it might also have been a conversation about him. Editing starts Friday. We’ll see.


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finding something that may have already been there

the discovery, or the creative act, and then…

suddenly, totally unexpectedly, i had this incredible revelation

it was so indescribably beautiful

it was so simple and so elegant

how do you recognize when you find it?

tears for me

for you?

- same, yeah, same.

(skip to the 9:10 min)

And here, Rothko:

The fact that some people, when looking at my paintings, ‘break’ and burst into tears, signifies that my paintings transmute basic human emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, a sense of undoing and so on. Those that weep when looking at my paintings experience the same religious experience I had when making them. And those that say they are touched (only) by the interplay of colors, are missing the point.’

Nude, from the basement, one of many of my Radiohead favorites:

(the build-up from 2.40, then, the music falling away with just Thom Yorke’s voice remaining, then slowly going silent… and his voice returns, followed by the bass and drums supporting him again… amazing… always, always gets me)


Go here to subscribe to my letter of news and receive my writings somewhat regularly and if you want to support my work you can do that right here

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