Welcome at the website of Jaap Goedemoed Artworks!
In October 2022 the website has been updated with pictures of a new pentagonal artwork and a detailed description of this artwork with pictures of intermediate stages.
This is again put in the menu section Welcome – Introduction.
The website jaapgoedemoed.com is becoming more and more unique, I am not aware of the existence of another artist’s website revealing so much info on the arising of artworks, the ideas behind these artworks, the treatment of important moments for taking decisions during the making process, and interaction with artworks from other related artists. Also the impact of ethnographic objects and purchased artworks on my own artworks are frankly discussed.
Possibly there is so much information and such an abundance of details, that in the last year no visitor dares to leave a message on the website. Please, give me your comments, if you don’t trust the comment button send your mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not native English speaker, please send your comment in your own language, if this is more comfortable to you, no problem!
If your comment is very valuable, I can put your message in an anonymous way on the website if this is desired. Of course you can also inquire for prices of artworks, and inquire for a visit of the studio.
The new pentagonal artwork Composition No. 2 can also be seen in Artworks.
Also new works based on old stock papers appeared.
It is reminded that all artworks are described. Please use the text symbol in orange, when the enlargement of the artwork is on the screen, by moving the cursor at the lower side in the right corner on this text symbol and click, and the artwork will turn around showing a short description of the artwork.
When stated “In private collection” the artwork is already sold and not available. If not stated, the artwork is still available for sale. All available artworks can be viewed in Amsterdam and in the studio.
Thank you for taking notice of this information and thank you for visiting this website!
A typical Goedemoed
It is more than thirty years since Goedemoed (De Bilt, the Netherlands, 1956) began making art, not always full-time, but always with enthusiasm and ambition. If it were possible to view his works of those years hanging alongside each other, strolling leisurely past them – first close up, then from a slight distance, you would see the development in the themes, techniques, materials, colors, and size. But every one of these works could be called
a typical Goedemoed; carefully thought through, balanced and compelling. These are images with a lasting echo.
Jaap became acquainted with graphic techniques such as etching and silk-screen printing at higschool.
He was a keen and valued student during drawing lessons but only began painting on canvas seriously after finishing his studies. These were figurative paintings, first in oils and then in acrylics. Characteristic of these first steps are
canvases with a flat scenery, painted in 1984 (1), and with a deep perspective, painted in 1985 (2).
The flat division of the plane is inspired by and referring to Mondrian, the impossible construction of walls to M.C. Escher, the hieroglyphics to ancient Egypt. In his free time (he was now working as a qualified pharmacist), the young Goedemoed focused on figurative works, often with a symbolic significance. At this time he also experimented with different materials, including linen tape and modeling paste.
As a result of a process that started in earlier years, 1990 was perhaps a turning point in Jaap’s artistic development. His work demonstrates less symbolism and the figurative themes are replaced by abstract images and strong attention to detail. These elements still define and characterize “a typical Goedemoed”.
Regarding the wooden plank (60x200cm)(3) from 1990, partially covered with linen tape, once again the influence of Escher appears: lower and upper side reveal identical structures, a development of changing patterns which return to their original shape, forming a metamorphosis. In this work ethnographic influences can be observed for the first time, e.g. emphasizing of the patina of the wood. Jaap finds much inspiration in ethnic art, which he has collected fervently since settling in Amsterdam.
The colors and geometric patterns of the dance shawls and garments of the central Kuba Kingdom in Africa are an important source of inspiration as in Changing pattern with opening I (1990) (4), which is based on a fragment of a Ngongo woman’s dance shawl.
That year, the artist used this image for the cover of his thesis. In these and later paintings, Goedemoed has been guided by shapes inspired by the human spirit, like the African patterns, and those generated by computer. For this theme, Jaap is indebted to Douglas R. Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach. Having a precise mind, Goedemoed is fascinated by this book and Metamagical Themas by the same author.
This brought him to computer-generated patterns and subtle deformations and transformations. The mathematical orders and theirvariations are features of his later works.
During the early nineties, there was also an undeniable influence of Amsterdam artist, Frank Lodeizen.
Jaap met the flamboyant Lodeizen while visiting one of his exhibitions and Lodeizen showed him a painting technique involving a mixture of acrylic paint and arabic gum. After drying, when the gum has crystallized, the mixture is rinsed with water which washes away some of the gum taking with it both undissolved and dissolved paint. Lodeizen calls his technique the “batik method”. Jaap noticed that the final results are unpredictable and sometimes lead to quirky traces of the acrylic paint counterbalancing both the predictability of regular patterns and an excess of detail and precision.
The artists made a joint visit to the Tuscan village of Montescudaio for three weeks during the summer of 1994. Goedemoed found old agricultural tax papers complete with seals and stamps in a garbage heap in a backyard. They can be seen, sometimes combined with the batik method, in certain works of that year, for example Tuscan tiling I (Montescudaio) (5, 15). The new technique and use of structural elements do not appear to be a problem for Jaap. In other works, he explores patterns with open (6) and closed (7) structures to which he adds used paper items: fragments of newspapers, old banknotes, Coptic healing scrolls (parchment) (8, 12), Japanese prints (9, 10), cigar boxes (11), handwritten Islamic texts, prints by other artists (11), yellowed and stained materials harmonizing well with the ‘washing’ gum technique.
During the nineties, we see a move towards his first large works, often with spatial divisions. From a distance they are compositions with a strong central focal point, movement or a harmonious whole. Close-up, we see the mathematical precision with which the small spaces are painted and combined with other materials. This development culminated in “Composition with open structure” (150 x 150 cm) (13, 16) in which the artist combines many experiences. The composition is calming without being dull. The separate elements, painted in acrylics and arabic gum, invite the viewer to come closer. And close up, this second layer is fascinating! Jaap enjoys working in these large formats. The planning and the patience necessary to work with these sizes suit him. In this period, we also see a diversity emerge from his work: many things can always be seen in Jaap’s work. It may be movement or a color pattern, or possibly unexpected vistas into a second or third layer.
A Byzantine saint (9, 10, 14) , a Japanese garden (10), a newspaper photograph (14) of a leader from the Balkan Wars. They don’t intrude upon an attentive viewer but form an indispensable part of the overall image.
These were inspiring years for the artist and his work demands to be seen. With a substantial degree of confidence, daring and ambition, during a visit to New York Goedemoed succeeded in attracting the interest of the Montague Gallery in Soho where he showed his large multi-colored mosaics at group exhibition in the fall of 1997.
Text: Rineke van Houten
Translation: Jean E. Boucher
Additional comment by George Degenhart, visual artist
A painting can be read as the result of a systematic sequence of acts that result in placing various materials on a foundation. Such an approach leads to clear insight into the production process and sometimes it is the objective, or one of the objectives, to make the process obvious.
Personally, I believe in the perceptibility of the genesis of the painting because it elucidates the goal. But a painting gets its real meaning when there is a sense of interaction; interaction between me and the painting. This interaction does not emanate from factual data like brush strokes, color, form and depiction, but forms a whole that is more than the sum of its parts and generates a new and surprising image. This is what I notice when I am confronted with the works of Goedemoed. His very detailed canvases, filled with apparently identical, yet differing interlocking forms, conjure up an image like an expedition through the universe.
Remarkably, the genesis is one of great discipline and method while the result leads to getting lost in… well, in what? This feeling of elusiveness also overcomes me when I look through binoculars at a clear, starry sky or when I see pictures of our planet or even the Netherlands taken from space, a world reduced to grains. Or take a photograph of sand on a beach. And although no two grains in the image are the same they still all look alike. Even an image of a crowd shows more similarities than differences.
Sometimes the image within a painting is more or less within a framework, but more often than not it expands beyond the edges of the canvas and probably carries on. Sometimes the image seems to implode with an absorbing central point. The commercial contracts processed by Jaap show more similarities with sand grains than the authors would like. The feeling of order within an incomprehensible world that I am part of develops during the interaction with Jaap’s work. That is exactly why I appreciate his work.
Comments to Composition 2017, 150 x 150 cm
During holyday periods in Montescudaio the so-called ‘sea balls’ were collected on the beaches of Tuscany. It is remarked that these sea balls can appear on all beaches of the Mediterranean. The balls are the remnants of resistant cellulose fibers of a water plant, Posidonia oceanica (L.), also called Neptune grass. By the movement of the sea on the beach the cellulose fibers are formed to the ball-shape dense form, also flattened or egg-shape forms are possible. The ball are mixed with sand from the beach. The sizes of the balls vary from marbles to tennis balls. Many hundreds were collected and first dried and stored.
The next stage was to design a housing of the sea balls. In line with preceding art works the artist chose for a pentagonal tiling and for a large format of 150×150 cm. 2017 was an interesting year for the science on regular pentagonal tiling, because it was demonstrated that there are 15 types of regular pentagonal tiling and that this number of 15 is limited: There are no new types to be expected. In previous art works the pentagonal tiling type 11 was used, this is one of the various types having a tiling build up with a pentagonal double figure. The type used in this sea ball composition is type 10, also from Marjorie Rice. The attractive feature is that the unit cells are very regular, and it does not contain ‘double figures‘ as seen in various other types.
Once chosen, the pattern was brought over on the canvas covered with modeling paste. The next stage was creating the wooden walls of the tiling units. The wood used is balsa wood, very light-weight, with 3 cm height and 1 cm thickness, and precisely sawed according to the pattern. The wooden frame was first covered with modeling paste for filling all gaps and open spaces. Then the lower surface and side walls were painted with a mixture of titanium white acryl and fine sand. The top surface (the pentagonal pattern) was painted with a mixture of ivory black acryl and fine sand.
The sea balls were painted with an orange acrylic paint, dried, and a small part of the ball was cut off and covered with modeling paste. This flat surface of the ball was used to glue the ball to the canvas surface with modeling paste.
In the next pictures the various intermediate stages of the 3-dimensional artwork can be viewed.
It appears that the work possesses about 330 unit cells filled with about 330 sea balls. The balls were fixed to the unit cells by adding modeling paste on the flat sides. Because a lot of material is used (modeling paste, acrylic paint mixed with sand) the final artwork ended up as a very heavy object. The sea ball artwork project started in November 2016 with the initial design, and the artwork was finished in May 2017.
Composition 2017, 150 x 150 cm
Side-view The three-dimensional structure is clearly visible; the height of the walls is decreasing near the sides, and in the middle the large balls are exceeding the cavities.
Composition 2017, 150 x 150 cm
Three-dimensional work with pentagonal tilings of wood on canvas, each cavity comprising sea balls, consisting of the remnant cellulose fibers of the underwater plant Posidonia Oceanica and sand. The sea balls are collected on the beaches of Tuscany, Italy. The balls are dried and strengthened with acrylic polymer with orange acrylic paint. The white and black paint are mixed with sand. The cavity walls are made from balsawood.
The Making of two porcupine artworks
Porcupine Boogie Woogie I, 113-113cm – September 2020 – February 2021
Porcupine Boogie Woogie II, 163×163 cm – May 2021 – January 2022
In the interview during 2015, also available on this website, I happened to criticise Jasper Johns, the famous American artist, because I felt that in his own works with dashes, he had imitated ethnographic artistic expressions by the Mbuti, a pygmy people from the Ituri region of north-eastern Congo, with far less sophistication and not half as much poetry. The Mbuti tend to create mostly abstract representations on tree bark, consisting of rhythmic dashes, arranged distinctively. Fortunately, this does not stop large numbers visiting my website, predominantly from the USA The USA generates about 15,000 viewings, more than a third of all visitors.
But at the time I had no idea that after around six to seven years I would be creating two artworks in which dashes were to be a significant component. Or rather, dashes in the form of three-dimensional quills, so not a flat line on paper, but something quite physical and tangible, which makes a huge difference. You cannot accuse my style of flat faux art which I accredited to Jasper John: I am not aware of any works of art by other artists that contain arrangements of porcupine quills as applied to my applications. In fact, Marian Bijlenga used porcupine quills to create very loose, graceful compositions, in contrast to my rather densely packed quills and tight structures.
My works were a rather delayed outcome of a visit to Tuscany with Frank Lodeizen in the summer of 1994. At the time I had not yet realized that due to his lifestyle and alcohol abuse, Frank was virtually “spent” – he was then 63 – and no longer capable of producing new works of art. During that holiday I happened to see some old Tuscan tax papers, which were about to be burnt on a pile of rubbish in a backyard in the village of Montescudaio. Frank was there too, but I remember he was not particularly interested in the old papers. Those papers enabled me to make the grand piece of work Tuscan Tiling I 1994 – 165 x 165 cm by the end of 1994, the very year I found them.
After many years, I happened to be back in Montescudaio, where my family and I spent many holidays between 2005 and 2017. And during those holidays, I collected many other materials, such as pine barks (see my work Composition I 2014 – 100 x 100 cm), sea balls lying on Tuscany beaches, which are the remains of Posidonia Oceanica, underwater seagrass moulded into balls by the movement of water on the sands (see my large work of sea balls 2017), a large amount of scrap iron and old driftwood (leading to the medium-sized works Composition 2018 – 100 x 100 cm and Composition 2019 – 100 x 100 cm), and porcupine quills, leading to the works in 2021 and 2022, the subject of my story.
In everything I did, I was the total opposite of Frank Lodeizen, whose work I greatly admired. His works of art were made during a short period of time, possibly within a couple of hours, and their format could not be too big, preferably 35 x 45 cm, no bigger than 60 x 80 cm. Quite contrary to my approach: the large works take many months, the first porcupine-quill work took 6 months and the second one, in spite of all my acquired experience and skills, took 9 months. Again, I dare claim that the quality of my larger works equals that of the smaller ones. But large formats would not allow me to work spontaneously, it would not work. A fair amount of preparation and planning is required.
I had picked up the idea to gather natural materials or objects in my immediate surroundings from Frank Lodeizen. This is not unusual among artists.
First, I made use of the old tax papers, next the pieces of pine bark, then the sea balls and scrap iron and old driftwood, and finally the porcupine quills, as you can see. These porcupine quills were sorted and arranged on kitchen-roll paper on trays in my studio where they were left for a long time. I’m afraid, they had to wait as many as eight years before their artist came into action. They were found in the forest of Montescudaio in the summer of 2012 by the entrance of a burrow – most likely of the porcupine. It was not until yours truly moved to the new studio that I was suddenly inspired to do something with the quills.
There were about 240 quills, and some of them could not be used. The added quills, ordered on-line, meant that I eventually had about 300 quills at my disposal. First, I made blocks with 5 quills each of balsa wood, i.e. the points of the quills were inserted into 5 x 1 x 1 cm pieces of balsa wood on either side, and the rectangular blocks were arranged linearly. This method gave the work its strictly linearly arranged aspect. However, this was not enough to fill the entire surface of the 100 x 100 cm canvas. I therefore decided to complement the black and white quills with orange and white artificial quills. Bamboo sticks – wooden satay skewers or plant stakes, depending on the length needed – were wrapped in a linen tape and painted, with some added variation in the designs like the porcupine quills. When finished, the orange colour looked rather dominant and therefore I added a different colour, a very delicate moss green, to provide some counterbalance. When all the boxes were filled, it looked a bit boring. Several gaps in this arrangement would give it more liveliness. The smaller gaps were filled with the sea balls I had been experimenting with.
Chance always plays a part when creating works of art. Just at the right time, I came across beautiful ammonites in Stenelux, Sjoerd and Carla Mulder’s shop in Amsterdam. The earthy colours of the ammonites really match the other colours. And, of course, the symbolic meaning fits in well, too: the fossil as an object that has managed to conquer time, and the spiral shape as a symbol and a spin off of the Golden Ratio, a result of perfect mathematics as applied by nature. It required three larger gaps, which led to major modifications of the acquired arrangement at that point. However, the increased gaps rendered the composition more exciting.
The work is now well on its way, and yet the white pattern of the balsa slats I found rather boring. You may have noticed that my principles are quite different to Jan Schoonhoven’s; he would have simply painted all the boxes white. At the most recent exhibition at Kunst RAI (Art in the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam), we saw many of Jan Schoonhoven’s followers: loads of artworks with boxes and squares, all painted glossy white, all lit up with spotlights to create shadows. Originality is not given to all artists, as we have already seen in Jasper Johns’ work. By the way, Jan Schoonhoven junior has now appeared on the scene. He makes all kinds of small wieldy, white reliefs, which are inexpensive compared to those of Schoonhoven senior, who has long since passed away.
While Schoonhoven is all about the play of light and shadow created by neatly arranged boxes, as if, as a matter of irony, he wanted to show that the industrial age can also produce something beautiful, the boxes in my work are filled with objects that are anything but industrial. Schoonhoven’s works are an ode to regularity, whereas mine are an ode to irregularity and to natural and biological variety and richness. And of course, it is quite ironic that my variety of coloured quills clearly loses out compared to the variety of porcupine quills. In my second work the difference is even more pronounced. Of course, I may have done this deliberately, because I want to emphasise the beauty of the undefined creator’s work in nature.
Schoonhoven could produce his reliefs together with his wife in the small kitchen of their house in Delft – after he had finished his shifts as a postie –, whereas the creation of my work would be impossible in a small kitchen.
The final step looks easy, i.e. the application of coloured dashes on the white slatted pattern. I felt that the work looked overly horizontal. After much experimentation, I discovered that vertical lines in bold colours, together with lightly coloured horizontal lines, could counteract this horizontal aspect. I was quite surprised that I needed so many experiments to find out. It strikes me how we always seem to struggle to visualise the outcome, how difficult it is to think ahead and that we always need to resort to this kind of experimentation.
But of course, the beautiful box frame with its pale light blue on the inside is the finite step. The box frame in my current work has virtually become part and parcel of the artwork itself. Adriaan van Dijk was my neighbour in De Bilt, my place of birth. He has made my box frames with great skill. At the time we did not have much contact, because when you are a child a slight age difference is a major barrier to becoming friends. The discussions I have with him about colour schemes have become a very pleasing final step in the creation of the artwork, and I always listen very carefully to Adriaan’s advice. Regarding the large piece of work with the sea balls he advised me to keep the box frame plain and white, so that the pentagonal pattern and the ochre-coloured sea balls would attract all the attention instead of the box frame. Well spotted!
This first work of art was meant to be the final one. After more than 6 months of work, it had been enough. Yet again, it was pure chance when my search on the internet for porcupine quills led to an offer of 500 porcupine quills from the taxidermy shop in Nijmegen. Emma van Grinsven was very helpful on this occasion. The quills, by the way, belonged to deceased porcupines in zoos.
While making the first work I had to figure out many things, and repeatedly it crossed my mind that “next time I must do this differently!” Those 500 quills gave me an unexpected opportunity to adopt another approach. And the idea was so clear in my mind that elaborate preparatory sketch designs were no longer necessary.
My first modification was not to arrange quills in linear blocks, but in rectangular blocks. This would help the variation in the quill pattern stand out more. From a technical perspective it was not at all easy to make larger blocks – sometimes with up to 30 quills: not only the black and white quill pattern varies, but also the length of quills, their thickness, and shape, especially their points. Consequently, I found it difficult at first to obtain good rectangles. If you look closely, you will see one skewed slat; the tension of unequal quills in the block of quills above caused the rectangle to be stretched. I would occasionally need to improvise when a quill was just that little bit shorter than the other quills. The formation of the blocks was different, too: they were now surrounded by 4 slats.
Once again, the porcupine quills were followed by coloured quills. One of my principles is that two boxes in the same colour should not be side by side. We want to keep it lively. This meant that orange and green were not enough, it needed an additional third colour: light purple was chosen.
The new work was made of slightly bigger balsa slats, 12 x 12 mm. The larger work presents impressive amounts of material: over 70 slats of 1 meter in length were needed and I had to use 68 rolls of linen tape for the coloured quills (which I did not count), in total 187 meter! Balsa wood was sometimes difficult to come by: it seems that it is often used in the blades of windmills and in the furnishing of luxury vessels. Fortunately, I was given a tip that there was plenty of balsa wood available from Peter van Ginkel’s shop in Arts and Crafts supplies.
The blocks of porcupine quills were arranged directly on the canvas, and they were also
secured immediately with acrylic paste because some of the rectangles were under tension as I explained earlier, which made it necessary to fasten them down. The coloured quills could of
course be made according to the customary method, i.e. a slat at either end. If one of these
slats shares a side with the blocks of porcupine quills, then the coloured quills should not be on the same level as the blocks of porcupine quills. Technically this is too complicated. Instead,
they were moved up one level. The whole work consists of 2 layers of slats, so the dividing
partitions are 24 mm high. It explains why the coloured quill boxes are on two levels in this work.
I previously mentioned that chance always plays a major part when making these kinds of works. It’s exactly what makes working on this kind of artwork so much fun. I had no clear idea what either work would look like, wich of course is not made any easier if chance turns out to play a major part.
In the layout of the work, I still had eleven open boxes. At the time I happened to be in the Zuiderziel shop in Roelof Hartstraat, Amsterdam, owned by Paula van der Heijdt, and I spotted some ethnographic-looking masks, each with an extremely individual patina and an individual facial expression with lighter and darker spots. Each mask, or each ethnographic male, seems to have its own personality. The masks fitted like a glove in the remaining boxes. I am so superstitious that I invariably think that it was not a matter of chance. I‘d rather think it was predestined. First there were six masks and a little later – chance! – I was supplied with an additional 5 masks made by the same person. When this happens, I usually tell myself: apparently this had to be, this is intervention by higher powers! A great title had already crossed my mind: Eleven ethnographic guys got lost in a modern artwork!
However, not long after, I decided on a mutation: I could not resist the temptation of an even bigger ammonite which I saw in Stenelux. Such a large ammonite has such a powerful effect, it simply had to be part of the artefact, just like in the first work. Consequently, I needed to move one mask out of the centre. This little mask, I felt, did not emanate much personality.
I asked Paula if she could find out who had made the masks, but unfortunately it was not possible. It’s someone from Indonesia, possibly Java-based. The masks were made recently, and again, I must say how much I love the patina of the masks. They greatly influence the work, and of course it begs the question what they are doing in this piece of work.
I guess the message is: Modern art and ethnographic art (or what looks like ethnographic art) need not be mutually exclusive, it need not be one or the other. At home, and in this studio, modern works of art and ethnographica are arranged side by side, they reinforce each other. The same applies to this work. Without the masks, the work is quite boring. And rows of masks would not be very exciting either. In short, the masks and the rest of the work need each other.
The masks were not expensive, but I found they were of high quality. I felt the maker should have been given a higher reward, but I’m afraid it is how global relationships work. I just hope that everybody understands that they are not products of colonial theft! It pleases me to see there is still so much craftsmanship and handicraft in the world, and so affordable!
Art connoisseurs among you are probably familiar with works by the French American artist Arman, known for his stacking talent of objects and thus turning them into artefacts. He did the same with ethnographica, including masks. I have never enjoyed looking at work with attractive ethnographic masks cast and locked in transparent perspex, never to be touched again. It goes against all existing conventions in ethnographica which should have been and continue to be used and touched, and our French artist ruthlessly ignores this convention. It also sends out an annoying message: look at me and my wealth, I just put 20 masks in a block of perspex, no problem at all. Karel Appel, a rich and more mature artist, also made large works in which complete ethnographic masks or statues were added clumsily to a large work of art. Awful.
Well, maybe I’m no better than Arman and Appel. However, my masks are not recognized ethnographica and I was honest in how I purchased the handcrafted product from someone in a country with a lower standard of living. Nothing will stop the masks from ageing genuinely along with the rest of the work, although of course some of the fossils have a great unsurpassable advantage.
And here is another last-minute mutation: After the large and the small ammonites, another fossil arrived from Sjoerd and Carla Mulder’s shop. A fossil fish named Knightia Eocene, dating from the Eocene Epoch (approx. 50 million years ago) was found at Kemmerer in Wyoming, USA. Now it continues to swim into infinity just below the centre of my work, slightly to the left. The fossil fitted beautifully into the work and has also become a wonderful resting point.
I even received a gift from Sjoerd and Carla Mulder: the little white coral sprig. It originates from an aquarium, so it is not taken from nature.
And a little later a very beautiful red coral twig was found in a dark cupboard at the back of Vincent Nelis’s shop for Antique scientific instruments and curiosities, Roelof Hartstraat, Amsterdam.
This required a final improvisation, and the slanting slat of the square with porcupine quills close to the large ammonite was now partnered with a mirrored slanting slat opposite. This new box with the red coral twig provides the perfect completion of the composition. Once again, a wonderful chance contribution.
As to craftsmanship: Adriaan van Dijk made another enclosing box frame, this time in the studio itself. It was a great experience to observe Adriaan’s craftsmanship, the careful consideration of all his steps, including his nifty tools and instruments, for example, for the clamping of glued corners.
The large work was given a sturdy box frame in a stonger blue. Overall, everything in the larger piece is somewhat bolder than in the smaller work.
I don’t mind if you consider the box frame a moat. All the boxes contain materials and objects of special beauty, and this collected beauty must be protected from the threatening forces of the outside world. The red coral twig symbolises this beauty, but also the approaching doom, because I fear that eventually everything that is beautiful in this world will disappear due to climate catastrophes and overpopulation.
Sea balls were once again fitted in the remaining smaller boxes. This time I gave the balls a brighter hue now that there were more competitive colours. As the boxes were deeper, the balls were given little pedestals, making them appear as if they were floating in their boxes.
Of course, there should also be some humour. I gave two sea urchin skeletons, side by side in the box, a slightly erotic tinge.
In the middle, a tiny rat skull peeps over the edge. They are sweet little mammals; we should not treat them with so much disdain! Fortunately, rat Magawa, who had tracked down 100 land mines in Cambodia and received many honours, had his obituary in all major newspapers in January 2022, after the cute creature had been allowed to enjoy some retirement.
Finally, the white slats of the box pattern were given a touch of colour. The two works differ: the earlier one was strictly horizontal and linear in its appearance. Consequently, it required some stronger vertical emphasis. However, this second work is neither particularly horizontal nor vertical in its focus, only the orientation of the masks ultimately determines the position of the artwork. Yet, the maker felt he did not have a choice and could not leave the white slats as they were – in every respect, it must be different from a Schoonhoven –, although there was absolutely no need to emphasize a particular orientation. Because of the much greater competitive colouring in this work compared to the earlier work, I chose very light colours. And because this second work is much more 2-dimensional, with many rectangles but no linearity, it was decided to apply ten rectangles in the form of dashes, rectangles that partly intersect.
Only viewers who are not fooled by the enormous busyness in the work, and who step back when they look at the overall composition, will recognize these covert ten rectangles. Their reward lies behind the apparent chaos of quills; they will notice a highly consistent order. If they allow their eyes to follow this order, the maker has found that it emanates a sense of peace, a subjective sense that everything has fallen into place. Note that the rectangles sometimes run on into the imaginary, and that this may be marked by a small dot on a slat. If you look closely, you will see ten such dots. Of course, I consulted craftsman Adriaan about these rectangular accents in my second work. He liked it, it was better than leaving everything white, and the light colours are a good complementation, but should not be too bright. It is interesting how those rectangular markings soon became so matter of fact in the work, and if some lines happened to be covered at this stage, or had accidentally slipped under the quills, the work immediately looked “incomplete”. It is amazing how quickly we are conditioned and can no longer look at the work with an open mind. The light “rectangle emphasis” adds complexity to the work without being obtrusive. And the viewer need not look at these accents if they do not particularly speak to them. A good work of art has something for everyone!
I chose the titles Porcupine Boogie Woogie I – 2021 and Porcupine Boogie Woogie II – 2022 and while they are nice and short, they are also a perfect description – they are spot on. It was not until Adriaan came to the studio to fit the frame that I first saw the large work vertically, as I had only worked on it horizontally.
Now and then I climbed up a stepladder to have a good view of the work from above, but it’s different, you don’t clearly see the depth of the boxes.
And even though I am the maker, and I could have guessed this might be the case, I was still impressed. But what causes this? I think it relates to the large structure, the depth of the boxes. Of course Boogie Woogie will remind you of Mondrian. Victory Boogie Woogie was his final – and unfinished – work, his swan song. Naturally, I don’t want this to be my final piece. But Victory Boogie Woogie was a significant final step for Mondrian, a breaking point compared to his previous oeuvre. In my early days, in the 1980s, I devoted several works to Mondrian. At the time I was deeply impressed by the man and his work. That’s why I feel honoured to be able to nick part of a title used by him, which is my way of showing him respect. My work is the total opposite of Mondrian’s work; it could not be more 3D! This 3D-development has been apparent since the large sea-balls artwork with the pentagonal boxes in 2017. That work was maybe even more radical than this work. However, I feel this work is richer from a cultural perspective; there are more interactive components and filling those large blocks with porcupine quills has also been a rather radical approach. Due to the biological variation in quill dimensions, I was extremely challenged, and it took me four months to make the porcupine quill blocks, which requires loads of patience, I assure you! Frank Lodeizen wouldn’t have managed without a doubt!
The 3D-development has gradually crept into my work. Since 2005 I have got to know the work of my good friend and artist Marco Neri well: he made boxes inspired by the well-known New York artist Joseph Cornell’s box constructions (1903-1972). These boxes contain 3D-representations with special objects, mostly ancient objects, or stuffed birds, etc. and their special arrangement creates dreamlike representations, or situations which highlight a person, something, or an event… Marco became particularly adept at this, his technical skills came in handy. I learned about it, bought some books on Joseph Cornell, and bought a Marco Neri box. I thought I would not be carried away. Well, taking a bird’s eye view of my development, this influence may have had some effect, and that some boxes have now been filled with emotionally charged or special objects… means that I may have been influenced after all. And to be honest, there are some new potential 3D-plans coming up, and I have some very special objects waiting for me ….
The number of visitors to my website from China top the chart at number 6 and it is growing fast. But I do not expect Jaap Goedemoed-like artworks to be offered for sale on Chinese websites any time soon.
I also discussed this issue with Adriaan, skilled craftsman and renovator: Might I expect my work to be copied and is it falsifiable? No, said Adriaan, who is reasonably informed about the way in which this work was put together, the materials themselves are unique – how do you obtain 500 porcupine quills? –, and building this work requires very specific expertise. Besides, who the hell can spend 9 months creating a work of art anyway? Such arguments provide me with solid guarantees that these two works will remain unique forever.
Here is another thought: while creating my previous works I had felt that the work would never be surpassed by myself. That is what I thought about the great Tuscan work of art in 1994, with the large mosaic made from the 1997 manuscripts, the large abstract work in 1999 consisting of one cut-out canvas and placed on a second canvas – I kept thinking, I will not be able to surpass this. And so it was for quite a while, until the sea-balls artwork with its 3D-pentagonal boxes from 2017 presented itself. It was quite radical, and again I thought, I won’t be able to top that. Until these two Porcupine Boogie Woogie artworks appeared. They are definite equal if not more. It makes me hopeful that in my remaining years the accumulation of experience and wealth of images in my mind will outweigh a decrease in physical strength and physical decline.
If I may put it this way, these two works contain a lot of my DNA; all my obsessions such as creating structures and breaking away from the flat, my collection of objects, the pursuit of timelessness, and the nurture of beauty are incorporated in these works. The works are in line with any previous works I made. The second work is slightly more exuberant than the first one. All my experiences in making artworks since 1990 are incorporated in these works. I think so much of my DNA is in these works that I don’t dare to think about selling – or about selling prices – disposing of the works would feel like an amputation.
This is the story of the two Porcupine Boogie Woogie artworks.
Translated from dutch by Rosemary Mitchell-Schuitevoerder.
The creation of a piece of art Composition number 2 – 2022
As noted, on this website, 1994 was a crucial year regarding my contact with the artist Frank Lodeizen (FL): frequent meetings in person, the purchase of many FL artworks and in the summer Jaap Goedemoed (JG) and FL embarked on a holiday together in Montescudaio Tuscany. A comprehensive account will be written about this event in due course. JG would often take art lovers to FL’s studio on Herengracht Amsterdam, which often resulted in purchases of FL’s artworks. On one of these occasions in 1994, Irene Eichholz, married to Tom Swaab, one of JG’s pub mates (between 1982 and 1996 JG and Tom Swaab would regularly visit café Welling), bought a piece of art (25 x 35 cm) by FL from 1993, composed of burnt matches, and fitted on cardboard in such a way that it produced a rhythmic pattern. From 1994 to 1996, Irene, Tom and JG would frequently visit artists’ open houses, galleries and Ger Lambregts’ “ethnographic basement” on Prinsengracht Amsterdam, which was close to Runstraat where many African ‘runners’ brought their cases full of ethnographic artefacts. It would be the final stop of their city-run from Paris to Brussels and Amsterdam, and if posh ethnographic retail outlets, which they had previously visited, had spurned the content of their cases.
Irene was a very special person, she was a Germanist with a wonderful flair for art and languages. She worked in Gallery d’Eendt in Amsterdam for many years and she translated poems by the Austrian experimental Ernst Jandl. Irene wrote an essay about it (in Wenen, De Sfinx – 1996, Oog in ‘t Zeil, Stedenreeks 4, publisher Bas Lubberhuizen).
Irene died on 21 August 2020 and in a very special way, I received FL’s artwork from her estate through Tom Swaab, who very generously offered it to me in March 2022, almost 28 years after I had witnessed the purchase.
I’m afraid this was a rather lengthy pre-amble before arriving at ‘matches’, the building materials at the core of this essay. Jaap must have had this particular FL piece of art on his mind when in March 2022 a new pentagonal piece of art announced itself. After two artworks based on porcupine quills, there was a stronger urge to produce more ‘structured’, less playful artwork and Jaap was less inclined to fill pentagonal boxes compared to his previous two pieces of art. Although decisions and choices are never entirely rational or clear cut, we may assume that ‘FL’s matches’ contributed to the consistent use of matches to fill pentagonal boxes. In this case, they were ‘fireplace matches’, a slightly larger version of ordinary matches which suited the intended larger 100 x 100 cm format of the artwork. It would help the intended artwork fit into the series of three-dimensional line artworks, which were previously described as pieces of art in complete contrast to Jasper Johns’ linear works.
On 18 March 2022, the first little dividing walls (1 cm thick) of balsa wood were fitted on the pentagonal pattern. These little partitions were at their highest, i.e. 5 cm, in the centre of the work, gradually decreasing towards the periphery. The next three images show the creation of the pentagonal box design, which took more than 40 days of work.
The following stage was probably even more labour-intensive. The fireplace matches were used to make little ‘duckboards’. The principle was simple: small supports of balsa wood in each corner and then slats made from the smaller matches placed along the partitioning walls to support broader fireplace matches.
There are several variables: the height of the corners (which determine the height and the gradient of the little duckboards) and the direction of the fireplace matches. The aim was to alternate the direction of the fireplace matches in a particular box compared to the surrounding boxes. The duckboards in the boxes were made to size, then removed and painted white and subsequently replaced. Progress is shown in the images below.
As said before, making the little wooden duckboards was the most labour-intensive part of the creation of this piece of art. It was not until 23 July that there were duckboards in all the boxes. There is no reason why this stage could not be considered a completed piece of art such as an intriguing follow-up of Jan van Schoonhoven’s (senior) white artworks. He was a well-known Dutch artist and a member of the Zero Group who most likely had not heard of pentagonal tessellations. However, in keeping with the two porcupine quill artworks, artist JG wanted to add something extra, some colour and some additional design.
Images of the work so far were printed in grey tones followed by colour and pattern experiments on paper to determine what would be the best continuation. My idea was to 1) emphasise the regularity of the pattern with some solidly coloured lines, and 2) to add some complexity to the whole by drawing thin lines within the boxes in very light colours. An example of this kind of colour and line experiment on paper is shown below.
The four bright colours on 4-cm slats placed on top of the pentagonal grid eventually became blue – yellow – orange – grey blue. The bright colour was achieved by covering the slats in gum arabic and then pouring some pure pigment over. The bright colour remains dull which is appropriate to the work. An image of this intermediate stage with the 4-cm slats placed loosely on the artwork is shown below.
After having finished the coloured short slats they were laid aside and a start was made with the colouring in of the boxes. Small lines were drawn from the corners in such a way that the lines were as perpendicular as possible to the direction of the matchsticks. Eight light foundation colours were selected. This also adds to the complexity because it creates competition between the actual shadows (caused by the little duckboards deep down in the relevant boxes) and the light colours which also appear like a kind of shadow. After colouring in the pentagonal boxes, the brightly coloured 4-cm slats were fixed to the pentagonal grid which completed the artwork. All that was left was to create an unobtrusive box frame.
Another image gives a side view of the artwork bringing out relief and random deeper boxes.
Remnants of the larger matches used for the construction of the little duckboards in the boxes were also used for an artwork that differed slightly to Frank Lodeizen’s ‘burnt matches’ piece mentioned at the beginning. Frank Lodeizen used many matches for his hand-rolled cigarettes to which he might also add some cannabis. JG owns an FL piece of art in which these ‘rollies’ are the main topic: in the vernacular their shaggy curls were often referred to as ‘the widow’s pubes’ because in advertisements strong tobacco was referred to as the ‘widow’s shag’ (and medium tobacco was advertised as the ‘widow’s daughter’s shag’). (See illustration of a Dutch packet of raw tobacco where ‘shag’ means ‘raw tobacco’, and the ‘widow’ was Van Nelle’s wife who continued the business after his death.)
JG’s piece of art consisting of matches was given an atypical tessellation. The match structure with the red heads was so dense that there was some space left within the given framework. Consequently, some more matches were struck to provide black-headed matches. This red and black balance gave JG’s artwork a very distinctive character and made it very different to FL’s work with its burnt matches. Obviously, this smaller artwork was an unintentional spin-off of JG’s larger pentagonal work.
The larger pentagonal work with very light colours was quite a new step for JG and when it was finished an innovative idea emerged for a new transparent large 3D pentagonal artwork. It is now in preparation. One thing is certain: JG currently is the sole artist to make such kind of artwork! It is great to be able to work in your own niche without being afraid that other artists will appropriate your ideas. Besides, the works are too labour-intensive to be copied just like that.
Translated from dutch by Rosemary Mitchell-Schuitevoerder.
New series Zigeuners in Amsterdam (‘Gypsies in Amsterdam’)
In 2016 Jaap bought the uncolored series of seven screen prints made by Frank Lodeizen in 1989 with the name Zigeuners in Amsterdam (‘Gypsies in Amsterdam’) including seven poems from Carla Bogaards, put together in a large size carton portfolio, published by Jaski Art Gallery, Amsterdam. The screen prints are of the size 40 x 56.5 cm, the pictures 29.5 x 41.5 cm. This exemplar was nr 1 /100.
In 1989 there was a Gypsy Conference in the green area of Spaarnwoude near Amsterdam. Some of the gypsies also made a visit to the artist community Ruigoord in the harbor area near Amsterdam, a place also frequently visited by Frank Lodeizen. Frank Lodeizen and poet Carla Bogaards spent a week together with the gypsies, and expressed their experiences in pictures and poems.
In addition Frank Lodeizen manually produced 50 exemplars of this series in a colored shape. In March 2020 Jaap also bought one series of these colored screen prints.
The screen prints in black on paper are very likely made by using his so-called batik technique for making the silk screen template. However, the manual coloring was done by a sparingly use of thin coloring agent and a very limited number of colors.
Jaap always wondered why Frank Lodeizen did not utilize his later developed technique of mixing acrylic paint and Arabic gum followed by an aqueous extraction procedure, for coloring the screen prints. Possibly this technique was for Frank not yet available or not yet ready at that moment for the 7 x 50 exemplars.
In March 2021 Jaap had sufficient confidence to color the screen prints and started in the new atelier the painting of the uncolored series of seven screen prints using the technique of mixing acrylic paint and Arabic gum followed by an aqueous extraction procedure as he learned from Frank in 1994.
The resulting seven screen printed colored by Jaap are shown below. This series is fully colored, and the result is very interesting and very different from the series as done by Frank. Jaap is of the opinion that this result is somewhat more for what Frank had in his mind and was intending to create. Apparently the creation of the silk screen print series and the coloring of 7 x 50 exemplars took so much energy from Frank, that the final coloring somewhat suffered from this.
This Frank Lodeizen series of Zigeuners in Amsterdam colored by Jaap Goedemoed is a single and unique series. Not yet visible in the pictures, but in the mean time the series has also been signed by Jaap as the colorist.