Once in every while you see a painting and you know in an instant; the artist just loves paint. Give ‘em half a chance and they would have paint for breakfast. In this particular case I saw paintings by a young Dutch painter (undoubtedly heading for greatness…), Aaron van Erp (1978). He stands out, not only because of the way the brushes the paint on the canvas (which makes the artlover really hungry for more) but also because of his choice of subjects. Seemingly everyday scenes turn out to be quite bizarre and… ‘funny’. Which isn’t a bad thing considering the subjects..
Aaron van Erps works are part of the collection of no less than Charles Saatchi and this December he will have a soloshow in the citymuseum of The Hague (something I’ll definitely be going to). What is it that is so appealing about paintings with titles like ‘Terrorist with corpse and shopping cart’ (thumbnail to the left), ‘PSV man with decapitated chicken’? As van Erp puts it himself: “it’s possible to laugh about horrible things”. Some of his subject are horrible, they could have given Francis Bacon nightmares. But at first glance, they don’t seem horrible.
With the title and with van Erps seemingly naive way of painting it takes the initial effect of horror away. And that’s a good thing, effect-wise. In my previous post I wrote about the works of Kendrick Mar. A parallel between his and van Erps work is that they both may have seen the (actually quite dreadful) film ‘The devil’s advocate’. At one point Al Pacino, playing the devil, says to his protegee, Keanu Reeves; “what makes me so good is that they never see me coming”. Van Erps and Mars works do exactly that. You get drawn in by a cute and appealing iconic figure (Mar) or a beautifully, lushly painted, slight bizarre scenery (van Erp). Then you look further and the sadness or even horror, strikes you with double force: “what the hell am I looking at!?” Right after that, appreciation sets in. Or, perhaps, even admiration. Isn’t it fantastic that a painter can do all that with an image?