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Maarten Andries

From traditional imaging to cultivated madness.

Since mankind has been able to do so, it has attempted to recreate reality in one way or another. It is as though reality would not be adequate, not sufficiently digestible or liveable, if one did not replicate it. By recreating the creation, we momentarily take possession of it. From reality we make an “artificial” imitation. The artificial aspect in art is just as fascinating. For the strawberry, painted in oil paint, but that appears almost real we have a greater appreciation than for a real one. Once recreated, we are able to better identify with it. An actor who convincingly plays a drunkard receives our applause whereas a true drunkard does not. It is not that reality is uninteresting but its omnipresence makes it self-evident and banal.

An activity such as drawing or painting forces us to focus our attention and to raise our awareness. We are forced to approach reality analytically, intuitively, innovatively, emotionally, instinctively or from our inner awareness. A “piece of art” is the witness of this consciousness and is therefore the sum of reality + consciousness. The amazement about the perfection of the reality is exceeded by the amazement about the fact that humans are able to create something like this. Every week, people in our fine arts painting school are occupied with amazing themselves and each other in this way. (See Fine Arts Painting School) The devotion is brought to the right value through the friendships, spiced with a dose of humour. Our school considers a thorough knowledge of the pictorial language as the basis to develop and bring the individual nature to expression.

From imitation to manipulation

Also if one limits one self to the intense experience of the reality and turns to expertly copying or mimicking, one can achieve a true piece of art. (this was the highest objective in art until far into the 15th Century). Be it a humble homage to the perfection of the creation, with the means used to translate it into some form as a challenging limitation. Therefore, it is impossible to draw a border line between craftsmanship and artist-ship. There is no need to strive for originality and personality. To be good is sufficient.

Gradually artists took the liberty to “explain” reality according to their own interpretation and selection. The art became more subjective.

From this need to explain the material, mental and transcendental reality arose each and every “ism”: from symbolism through impressionism and expressionism, to surrealism and abstracticism, etc.. This opened never-ending fields that continue to be explored and cultivated.

Aside from one’s own understanding and skilled interpretation there is still another factor which leads to “personality”. To clarify, let us consider three groups of painters who do their utmost to copy the same still-life as dedicated as possible:

1) In a group of very good craftsmen painters subtle differences will be visible from their results. One can state that these differences arise from their competence.

2) In a group of marginally good painters who do the same there will be much larger differences. One can state that these differences are the result of their competence as well as their incompetence.

3) In a group of laymen painters the differences will be maximally large. These result from lack of competence.

The less one has command of the profession, the smaller the probability of reaching the goal striven for. Admittedly, one could arrive at something different that is more or less usable. That has little to do then with one’s own achievements, but this sort of failure is promoted as the goal and highly valued in nowadays art. They dare to call this “free expression”.

In a time when originality, renewal, experimentation and avant-garde are buzz words, it often occurs that the lack of competence is promoted to style. It is cultivated and even taught at the academies. It is by verbal sky-high praise raved for its uniqueness and beatified.

Similar excesses in the music and the literature mostly are not successful because these media immediately expose the lack of competence. Someone who plays for the first time a few keys on a piano can get into trance by the sounds produced. Someone who produced for the first time a few coloured blots on a canvas can achieve intense enjoyment. The first one will not have the nerve to make a CD of it, in the second case the probability is realistic that it will be framed and considered to be an artwork, particularly if this person is famous in another area.

Every politician, rich person, or other person in power who wants to be part of it and wants to feign the appearance of understanding and progressiveness, howls along with the noisiest herd and likes to display him/herself on TV interviews with such an art blunder or other plant in the background. These people in power ensure that this herd survives by subsidizing them using taxpayer’s money.

Different is confused with original and used as predominant criterion: a piece does not have to be good, as long as it is different, shocking or media horny”.

Of course, these unprofessional works, have sometimes some peculiar charm and they demand the audacity of the non-swimmer who jumps smack into the deep water and performs an attractive sprawling. Today’s “artistic swimming pools” are full of sprawling poseurs and are by an accumulation of cleverly thought out sentences promoted to “swimmers” and in this way saved from a sure drowning. A celebrated example of this phenomena are the poorly copied newspaper pictures (historically or thematically charged) by Tuymans, who is named by Hoet (a famous museum director) the rediscoverer of the art of painting.

From lack of craftsmanship to ideology

Many present-day artworks are actually illustrations to theories and exist only with the grace of verbal explanation derived from, or inspired by, one or another philosophy, ideology, or religion.

The mere intellectual creative energy is not going so much towards the artwork itself, but rather to the anticipated defence of it at an empty spot in the evolution of art history.

The piece of art itself does not clarify what it expresses; an extended users manual is needed for that. Beauty is no longer unctuous but taboo.

An important pacesetter was Marcel Duchamp, an interesting and controversial intellectual, who, among other things, found the idea to be more important than the visual product of it. Instead of responding courageously and authentically to it, they take over his ideas, mostly in slightly changed form, remain endlessly busy with it, and get enormous spaces at their disposal in outrageously expensive museums. Here is neither craftsmanship nor creativity required, but rather some rational speculation and opportunism. They imitate him by pulling objects or events also out of their context and placing them in an “artistic” environment. This brings us from a “urinoir” in the art gallery, to synchronously urinating, naked “female dancers” on the theatre stage: Intellectually justified pee porno in subsidized, grand theatres.

The media inform us at length of all this stupid, sick, or trivial sensation, because they are above all concerned about the sale of paper and high TV program ratings. Also the daily journal brings us more bad than good news, more chaos than harmony.

From syndrome to chain reaction.

The best quality for an artist to be recognized as full is monomania: a solid fixation, endlessly performed and exhausted in a passionate way.

Artists have become word peddlers who benefit from the “Van Gogh trauma” among connoisseurs and collectors: “This one could become a real big one, so shall we recognise him or be embarrassed badly afterwards; we will just buy some work of him, before it gets unpayable. In this way a chain reaction is caused and sometimes fortunes are paid for trash. Because these “artists”, in spite of their limitations, have nevertheless success, they are particularly arrogant and inquire during a conversation regularly whether you are still able to comprehend them. If you point out the emptiness of their work, the standard counter argument is: it stirs up a lot of excitement and discussion! But a court case on a serious crime does this too of course. They like to call themselves soft anarchists and rebels, peddle with their political correctness, but compete in ass licking of the rich and powerful (See among others the documentary on the decoration of the palace hall chamber with beetle shields containing a discussion of the curtain colour between queen Paola and slaving Jan Fabre and Jan Hoet).

Their concern appears to be: “to make the observer think”, while 1 page of a good book contains more thoughts than their entire business. It has gotten already so far that these artists do not even need to think out themselves the indispensable sense giving clarification of their own work. An exalted army of museum directors, critics and other managers, who wish to distinguish or enrich themselves through this circus, are doing that for them. The less the content of the artwork is indistinct and poor, the more they are able to make their own verbal “piece of art” by means of their comments. During big art-events, especially in towns and in open air, it is a challenge to distinguish the ordinary objects from the works of art: one has to look out for the plate with the name of the artist and his work. Only then, the admiration can break out...

O man! hold thee on in courage of soul.

This article is, of course, not meant to pose ourselves as an exclusive example. It is a teasing sun ray in the obscure sky of artistically oligarchy, doubtful certainties, and degeneration.

Remaining always clear to permit better insights.

Maarten Andries

© Nothing from this text may be copied or published without the author's permission.


Eerst wensen tot
we gewenst zijn.
En denken tot
we bedacht zijn.

Dan leren tot
we geleerd zijn,
eten tot
we vergeten zijn,
verliezen tot
we verloren zijn.

En aanvaarden tot
we aanvaard zijn,
geven tot
we vergeven zijn.

Dan lossen tot
we verlost zijn.

Zo veel als niets

Ik weet,
het is niet veel,
maar toch
nog dit:

Ik weet
hoe veel er is
en toch
nog dit:

Ik weet
hoe veel er zijn
en toch
nog ik.


De een is
zoals leven het dicteert:
sterk door te nemen.

De ander is
zoals dood het dicteert:
kwetsbaar door te geven.

Leven zorgt voor wat er komt;
dood voor wat er gaat.
Geven en nemen,
komen en gaan.

Komen en nemen,
geven en gaan.

Niet belangrijk.

Elke dag hebben we ermee te maken
met die zon, en al haar gevolgen
met onszelf en elkaar
met hoe groot wel niet
en hoe klein nog wel
met verzamelen en verdelen.

En waar wilden we ook weer
meer over te weten komen?

Maarten Andries

Born with some restraint in Flanders and survived this event with alternating success until now. And with lots of fun!

Many national and international exhibitions.

I would like not to want to be perfect anymore.

School for Realistic Art

Regular lessons are on Fridays and /or Saturdays from 9:30 to 16:00. All things worth knowing about craftsmanship will be revealed. Individualized instruction ensures the development according to your giftedness and vision. The greatest possible result will be reached for both professionals as free timers. The diversity in nature and level acts inspiring between the members of the group the number of which will remain limited to 15 persons.

Pictures of Paintings

Click on a thumbnail to view the entire image.

How comes?



Maarten Andries
Visvijverstraat 26
2520 Emblem - RANST

tel: +32 (0)3 457 81 22
gsm: +32 (0)472 28 60 92