Paintings of a boy | Hannes Schievink | Zwolle, NL
I’ve always loved watching artist-portraits (documentaries) about painters. They usually seem so passionate about their work and look like they put a piece of themselves in every painting. I would love to create like that, but never really got into painting. A couple of times, I’ve gotten seduced into the painter’s life (usually around 2 a.m. when rather sleep-deprived), but all of those times, I gave up when a minor inconvenience crossed my path. Now was my chance to try again.
Before the project started, we were asked to compile an archive of imagery from our past. I did this but did it rather lazily. And thus I ended up with a terrible archive from which I didn’t want to use a single image.
I started out painting a couple landscapes and childhood pictures, but the results (nor contents) did not hit a single snare. The paintings were boring and soulless.
To get some frustration out, and give my eyes some rest from looking at all that stiff imagery, I place my easel in front of a mirror. I knew I could paint myself, and get some feeling out of it, so it looked like a good place to start. I didn’t care what I was painting, as long as I was doing something. When I had painted around 3 Hannes’s, I thought about what I could add in the background. Then I remembered churches.
During my time in Ghent, I visited a bookshop. In this bookshop, there lay a copy of ‘Hell’s gates’ by Tim Coghlan; a collection of photographs of burning churches. As I have been interested in Christianity and it’s corresponding imagery, this book remained in the back of my head.
When I found myself painting boring childhood photos, I remembered the book. First I did not want to act upon it, as someone else had done it already. Painting burning churches would be stealing from Coghlan. But when I could not get the idea out of my head, I had to give in. As a student, I found myself in a space of experimentation and I just had to get the churches out of my system. So I went to the printer, and printed images of churches, and of fire. For the churches, I chose Frisian churches, specifically. That way, they were my own churches and I added something of myself.
So I started painting a church. On fire. The fire did not look good and was, often, mistaken for an orange bush. I chose to abandon the fire, and focus on the churches. I really liked how the churches looked when I spared them out and used the white of the paper. I must have painted 15 churches like this. And, as usual, I had gotten bored of them. I tried more of a collage technique, I tried adding in some little figures, but it did not get more exciting.
Then I looked back at the self-portraits I had painted earlier, and I got inspired. To continue on the geometrical shapes of the churches I had painted, and the blotchy colors of my self-portraits, I started painting self-portraits with the church as blocks and off I went.
I am happy with how this project went. I tried stuff out, I discovered new stuff and I made something that conveys what I have been doing for the past year; playing with the church. It was good.