Waarneming blijft een eigenaardig en moeilijk te analyseren fenomeen. Hoezeer kunstenaars en wetenschappers ook proberen het begrip te rationaliseren en te objectiveren, steeds weer duiken tegendraadse collega’s op die discussies nieuw leven in blazen. Van M.C. Escher is bekend dat hij werd geobsedeerd door metamorfoses die in de praktijk voor onmogelijk werden gehouden maar in de kunst werkelijkheid werden. De dubbelzinnige ruimte-ervaringen die zich voordoen in zijn kunst zijn het gevolg van spiegelingen, mysterieuze verwisselbaarheid van hol en bol, wisselwerking tussen voor - en achtergrond en licht en donker.
Ook in mijn werk heerst de obsessie voor de onmogelijke figuur. Ik speel met de wetten van het perspectief en daardoor ontstaan er bedrieglijk echte optische illusies. Ingenieuze constructies worden door mij gevangen in schijnbaar onmogelijke ruimtelijke definities. Maar er is een groot verschil met het werk van Escher, er zijn geen duidelijk herkenbare vormen uit de zichtbare wereld. Ook als Escher slaag ik er in om vaak abstracte geometrische vormen tot leven te wekken, zoals men kan zien in mijn galerie. De verstrengeling van zichtbare werkelijkheid en optische illusie leidt in mijn werk tot een magische wereld waarin fictie en feiten elkaar opheffen, betwisten of ontkennen. De drang om te weten hoe waarneming functioneert en waar de grenzen tussen het mogelijke en onmogelijke liggen, heeft mij in de houdgreep. In mijn gedreven onderzoek naar bedrieglijke echtheid en optische illusie ga ik tot het uiterste. Grenzen zijn er in mijn geval om overschreden te worden.
HENDRIKS ART STATEMENT 2006
Art is a drug dear people and creating art, drawings and paintings, sculptures and digital or computer art is my ultimate catharsis. It is my way of purging and cleansing my mind. It is my ……… "Rite of purification". It is how I get the crap out of my head ....... its how I stay sane in this insane thing that is called reality. It's like a drug that I am brilliantly addicted to. So addicted I have become, that my body chemistry has changed, acclimated itself to the drug, ART. Without this drug I go into withdrawal. I begin to wither and die. I become stupid and foolish and pathetic. My specialness is gone. I begin to change into this thing that is worthless and not deserving of existence. In other words, my art defines me, without it, and the constant creating of it; I am nothing, less than nothing.
My artistic expression is my way of vomiting the mental debris that accumulates in my conscious and my subconscious. My work springs forth from my subconscious. I do not know what my artworks will be before they begin to become what they are. Rather than a deliberate idea which is executed with forethought and preparation, my works are born. My work is spontaneous, not thought out beforehand. Occasionally I will base a work on an idea, but the artwork will always take its own road. My hand and arm are an instrument being controlled by the idea being born ... The art controls me, I do not control it. It has a will of its own. It's a thing giving birth to itself, flowing on free will out of the brain.
Only when I begin to visualize what is being born, only then will I begin to exercise some deliberate control and manipulation in its creation. This is the time when I must draw upon my discipline because I am in danger of becoming bored with the work. Once I know what it is, the execution of the work is far less interesting to me. The surprises are over. It then becomes a labor to complete. Going through the motions necessary to complete the artwork is a bore ... It is during this stage that I run the risk of casting the piece aside to begin a new one. I become frustrated with the time it takes to finish, and sometimes I won't finish. It is only through self-discipline that I do complete most of my art works.
All I truly want in this life is to harness the visions which I constantly see. I do this by drawing them. I capture and confine them to the canvas, screen or paper. Of the millions of images which pass through my mind, I can only hope to capture a few. This is my exquisitely frustrating race against time. This is my reason for living ... the only justification for my existence. Other than this thing that I can do, I am nothing more than a parasite, existing for the sake of existence. But this gift has been bestowed upon me! I believe that I have been given this ability for a purpose. So far, I believe this purpose is to provoke thought. To remind my fellow humans that we are unique, to piss people off if necessary, to make them strive to become something more than the people depicted in TV Sitcoms. We must not be allowed to believe that everything is okay with the world. We must not become complacent. We are destroying the planet for the purposes of personal greed and refusing to see that there are alternatives. We must think beyond the "BAG" that the media, which is controlled by insincere and greed driven interests, would have us believe is our "happy safe life style". My artwork, and the things that I write, make people look at the world differently.
PASSION FOR ART
The passion that I feel for my art is like the passion you might feel for water if you were dying of thirst. Imagine yourself in a hot dry desert landscape, devoid of all life. Only rocks and dust and the hot HOT sun beating down, burning and blistering your skin. You are drying up. There are no more tears or sweat, no moisture left. At that moment how passionate would you be about water? That is how passionate I am to have the time to create this art.
But the water is being withheld from me! The water is there, within my sight, but I am in a prison. My arm reaches through the bars, but the water is still out of reach. My curse is my need to create this art, and at the same time, need to feed myself and keep a roof over my head. My curse is my need to survive in our society like everyone else.
Fortunately, I am able to occasionally sell prints of my works and original drawings, sculptures and paintings ... I have been doing a lot better since I discovered the Internet.
BEING AFRAID OF THE ART?
EBay, Artwanted.com, Yessy.com, Artocracy.org, wacmac.com, baartmanartusa etc…. allows me to reach the rare people who are able to coexist with my work. To you who are reading these words at this moment please let me ask you a question; how easy would it be for you to live with a piece of my work hanging on your wall? Would your wife or husband object? Do you want to keep your children from the kind of images that I create? Would you feel funny about guests or relatives when they come to visit? I hear these reasons for not purchasing my art all the time. People are uncomfortable having my disturbing images on their walls, even when they, themselves, sincerely want to display my works.
Only extraordinary people can live with my works. My work is not the pretty bowl of fruit or seascape that goes well with your living room decorum. My work will not hang quietly on your wall. My ART SCREAMS FROM THE WALL, "HEY YOU! DO YOU DARE TO LOOK AT ME?!" My work is not a part of the overall "ambience" of your living space, unless your living space is an expression of an individual, rather than a prefab idea packaged by the corporations who tell you how you should look, dress and live. Queen Bea will not be hanging any Baartman originals in her home.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to live in peace. I do not condemn those who wish to take the easy road; to go with the flow and live in an environment which TV shows that are "correctly cool". By all means, live your life without controversy! An old Chinese curse is; "MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES". The thought provoking elements in my art, and any art that is more than just a "decoration" has a price. That price is that your life shall be "interesting". "Interesting does not necessarily mean "pleasant". On the contrary, an interesting life can be very unpleasant at times. But for me, the richness of the high highs and the agony of the low lows are worth it!
I want my life to be more than just a string of years spent working at a job which only supplies me with money that I spend on things to distract me from the unpleasantness of that very job! I don't want the "9 to 5" rat race. I don't want to be able to recite the dialog from episodes of "friends" or know who won "survivor" or "star search". I don’t want my life to be spent in a bag of conformity. I don’t want a life made up by someone else. There are people who will use you or me to get what they want in this lifetime. Greed will motivate some people to do anything in order to achieve their own personal ends, and the rest of us are damned! This powerful special interest are attempting to brainwash you and me into believing that the easy, happy lifestyles depicted in the media, TV, radio and the internet is what you want. I URGE YOU TO THINK FOR YOURSELF! Resist the easy prefab lifestyles provided for you by the AMERICAN dream company!
I desire to find myself in this life, and live a life of individuality. I will take the lumps, and I will experience the intensities. I will feel the passion of love, and accept the anguish of losing love. I will try and fail, and try again. I will die trying! And If I so desire, I will put art on my wall that will scream at my visitors, "HEY! ... I DARE YOU TO COME OVER HERE AND LOOK AT ME! I DARE YOU TO SEE YOURSELF IN THE REFLECTION OF YOUR OWN INTERPRETATION OF THIS DRAWING! I DARE YOU TO BE HONEST!"
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
With some of my work, I never come to understand its meaning. Does any of this mean anything? In a way, I think not. That is not a cynical statement, it is an observation that I truly believe. What I believe is that there is not one reality, thus not one correct meaning for anything subjective. What you see in my art is a reflection of yourself. It is your perception. This is an important distinction to be aware of. It's important for you to understand that all people see things differently. And that’s okay. Don't be one of the fools who think that theirs is the only "real" reality, and then spend their lives trying to impose their version of reality on everyone else. People are unique, and that is a wonderful thing about our species. That is why conformity is evil, and the attempt to impose conformity upon others is evil. Conformity is something that people try to impose upon others when they are insecure about their life. To such a person anything different is threatening. Conformity is the blind child of fear, its mother is terror and father is hate.
I see my reality my way, and I believe that you see everything much differently. I think that if you and I were able to plug into each others perceptions, we might go mad on the spot. My work is a mirror which reflects back upon you, the viewer, that which you perceive the reality of that work to be. Each of my works is 6.5 billion works, and growing steadily. And yet, I'm constantly being told by others what my works mean. Not just what they mean to them, but what they mean to everybody. This is foolishness.
Many of my works remain a mystery to me, and probably always will. Some, I think I know and understand immediately and often, what I perceive a work of art to be in the beginning, changes into something else years later, as though it has a life of its own. This confirms my belief that everything is about perception in the space of time we call the "immediate", and proves to me that NOTHING IS REAL.
There's not always an intentional message in my artworks. Yet often a meaning will reveal itself. If you perceive a meaning it's probably your own interpretation. Don't assume that what you think you see is what I intended you to see, because normally, I intended nothing. You are seeing yourself in a mirror. I hope you like what you see.
My advise, buy my art! Or buy the art of someone like me ... If you can not afford even a print, then download it and print it yourself. If you really can't afford even a print of my work, then I give it to you gladly ... I want you to have it ... I want you to enjoy it and think about it. I want you to be a free thinker, not tethered to the "Real World" that some fool with his own agenda made up for you! The irony is that they attempt to control your lifestyle so they can afford to live their lifestyle at your expense! There are many artists of interest. Art is a tool to help you think for yourself, so spend some time with it.
My art is the only thing in my life where I do not compromise. In everything else I do. In all other things, I bend to the will of others ... my personal relationships, everything.
I made a deal with myself many years ago. My art belongs to me ... No one else. It is the one thing that I try not to compromise. I do not take commercial jobs I don't feel excited about ... I do not do requests, unless I feel passionate about the idea ... I do not want or respond to suggestions or the ideas of others. This is my world, it’s me. This keeps my work "real", but it sure as hell does not help me pay the rent. So be it! I sell what I sell.... I will not let my need for money taint my art. That is the deal.
It's difficult to resist the influences that surround me constantly; People I know and love who innocently say to me, "I really like this, but why do you do that?" or "I wish you would do more of this, rather than that." Without carefully guarding my artistic expression, to resist the subtle, (and usually completely innocent and well meaning), attempts of others to influence what I do, I run the risk of dilution of who I am ...
I understand that it is impossible to live in a bubble. And I understand that my work IS influenced by others. If you live in the world of people, it's impossible not to be influenced by them. The line I do not cross is the line that many artists do cross early in their careers. That is to sell their abilities to fulfill the ideas of another. To sell their abilities ... Hell, I was never really talented enough to make it as a commercial artist anyway. As a commercial artist for hire, I would have been mediocre at best. However, as an artist who creates only what I will, I excel! The only reason you are reading this now is because I have specialized in creating art for myself ... eventually, that became interesting to others. That's my special talent. My uniqueness is that what I do no one else does, have ever done, nor will ever do. There are influences of other artists who I admire in my work, but my work is not derivative of any one artist. My work is my own. This sets me apart.
My Art is mine ... It's the only thing that doesn't in some way belong to someone else. It's my freedom ... the only real freedom I have. We all have the potential to find this kind of freedom within ourselves, yet few of us do. It is something that must be cultivated. I consider myself a very fortunate individual.
GOOD ART OR BAD ART?
I have always had bouts of depression. Overwhelming sadness and fear, this is not necessarily tied to any occurrence. I just get depressed sometimes. I know I'm not alone in this. The one thing that has managed to help and sustain me, perhaps to keep me alive through these times, is that I have my art. I have this one pure undiluted ability that I have cultivated throughout my life. I use my art as a crutch. It helps me get through the rough times. I've done some of my best work when I'm feeling sad or angry. When I am so upset that I can't think straight, I pick up a pen or mouse or hammer and what flows from me is the stress and the sadness and all the emotions that I'm experiencing at that moment. It pours from me like a torrent (rushing stream of ideas). That is how I make art. Art is the release valve on this pressure cooker mind of mine.
I can't afford to care too much about the people who say my work is "wrong" or "evil" or "amateurish" or just plain "bad art". People have said all these things and more. I get many letters telling me that my art is wonderful, very inspiring, crap or worse. I can't allow myself to be concerned about whether or not my art is liked or disliked. Who are these people who claim to know what "good art" is? Who can claim to be the ultimate authority on the subject of what is "good" and what is "bad" art? There is a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling which addresses the question of good and bad art, and the unanswerable question of "What is art?” Anyone who claims to know is one of the insecure "Baggers" who I refer to above. They try to tell you what art is, and tell you what you are supposed to like. That is absurd. And what is even more absurd is that people believe it.
My art is my creation of the sake of creating it ... because I feel the need and the excitement and ecstasy in the process of expressing myself in this way that only I can. Regardless of what others may think of my work, it is my unique finger print on the world. I will not let people tell me what to do, because in this thing only, I can say "NO."
Hendrik Arie Baartman 27 February 2006
Hendrik Arie Baartman