D. WITTENBOLS
Paintings on postcards

[ongoing]The Unformed Power

[upcoming]New Skin For the Old Ceremony 

[ongoing]Back to My Old Self

[ongoing]SouvenirPipe Portraits 

[in progress]Women's Own Book of Flower Arrangements (working title series in progress)
April is the Cruellest MonthOrtelius Drew
I am a Dutch-Canadian visual artist working primarily but not exclusively in the tradition of figurative painting. I construct my paintings, paintings on photographs and painting installations using (personal) signs and symbols like Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait but in my own idiosyncratic way. My work explores fears and desires of/for change, memory, longing, the unknown and the unexpected - within the shifts and transitions in love, sex(uality) and death. I often paint places, the landscape and objects, using these as metaphors for vulnerability.

Recently my practice has come to include painting non-objectively, as well as, using surfaces different from traditional stretched canvas. I am now employing my medium of paint, before I get too comfortable with it, as opposed to my past work of realistic portraits where I was building up one particular technique. In this new way of working I actually feel more connected to the alchemy of paint. I generally work project-based or in series. My recent work oftentimes materializes as a dreamscape or a type of in-between state, one the viewer cannot always place - whether that is a fragment of a realistic interior, a murky-coloured landscape within an abstracted vignette or a non-objective three-dimensional shaped painting inspired by a lapis lazuli gem-stone.

In my formative years when I was painting psychosexual performative self-portraits, I was fascinated by the in-between stage of the adolescent, the period of knowing and yet not knowing, a state of innocence and yet all realizing of full (sexual) potential. It is also a period of mourning, the loss of childhood and yet through an awkward, vulnerable state, being ready to burst out into adulthood, while undergoing rapid physical changes. Although I rarely paint realistic portraits in my current work, the adolescent continues to be my background muse.

How to fit in and express oneself is what I experienced when immigrating from the Netherlands to Canada during childhood, and relived this upon my return to Holland as an adult. Transition periods, transformation, parting from friends, family, partners and places as well as physical and psychological changes within different areas and stages of life are recurring themes in my work. The pubescent’s’ ever-shifting states of vulnerability, awkwardness, melancholia and desire to independently move out into the world is something that still rings true in my work today - even when painting non-objectively. I am interested in how I can articulate fluctuating vulnerable, ambivalent, in-between states not only in the narrative content of my work but also with oil paint… a medium that is messy, sometimes difficult, or disappointing, but simultaneously very sensual, seductive, feisty and fluid.