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Harm Visser: As in my Soul

  ArtWay Visual Meditation April 28, 2019

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Harm Visser: As In My Soul (Landscape after Van Gogh)

In Search of Space

by Harm Visser

Recently my wife and I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I was yet again touched by his work. I noticed that I have a great affinity with him as ‘artist of the ordinary’ as well as with his search for a reality that cannot be perceived by another, that you cannot explain. For some time I have been searching for ‘space’ in my work. Up till now my work has been rigid, defined, finished. I often experience it as oppressive and small. Sometimes I wonder if I did achieve anything these last few years. Sometimes it seems as if something has eluded me. But a while ago I noticed that I was coming closer to expressing what lives in my soul.

A year ago a man entered my studio. He had a pale face, a thick coat and a backpack. A cord hung out of his backpack proceeding in the direction of his coat. He looked at one of my paintings and started to weep. I was deeply moved. I asked him what struck him so in the painting. He told me that his cancer treatment had come to its end. He said nothing further. He just wept. His wife later said that the colours and the short poem I had written next to it had moved him profoundly:

In the evening there is so much beauty in the blood-red sky
when air and water touch each other
my God, the night is visible
the blackness coming closer from behind me

It seems that there is more emotional depth in my work than I realized.

A few days after I had been at the Van Gogh Museum, I went into my studio and painted the picture shown at the top of this meditation. I painted it with acrylic at great speed. It is an emotional work. Not realistic, or is it? It is obvious what it represents but it also evokes questions. What is happening behind that horizon? A fire? Or is it the light of the dawn or a setting sun?

It was a glorious moment at my easel as I was enjoying the large brush strokes. Colours mixed, I was looking for transitions, not so much for reality but for something more, something deeper. I was reaching for light in the painting, while savouring the colours. I was inspired, moved. At moments like this I touch places in my soul that I cannot describe in words. The colours and forms, the complete picture and its elements do the talking for me.  

There is also a restlessness in this work, a search. Wandering about and searching for an encounter, inspired by a saying of Martin Buber: “All real life is encounter.” I am looking for this depth in my life, just as it seems to be present in my work. People are touched by the ‘honesty’ of the landscape.

I now understand my own work better than ever. This year I will continue to search for ‘space’.

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Harm Visser: As In My Soul (Landscape after Van Gogh), 2019, acrylic on panel, 30 x 50 cm.

Harm Visser: Blood-red Beautiful Sky, 2019, acrylic on panel, 15 x 30 cm.

Harm Visser (b. 1979) is a Dutch painter and sculptor who has been drawing since childhood. Already very early on he was fascinated by animals and nature in general. When he was thirteen years old he started taking courses in drawing and painting. From 1999 - 2001 he attended the Vrije Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (Free Academy for Visual Arts) in Nunspeet, a village with a long history of painters. Being a perfectionist Harm Visser looks for the right completion of his work. That can mean a suitable frame, the choice of which is also very important for him. Sometimes, however, that is not enough. He collects materials that could make the perfect finish. An old oak pole of a haystack can become an ideal base for an owl. A dragonfly does not hang on the wall, but floats gracefully on a reed, made of polished stainless steel. Wonder is a key word with many meanings for Harm. “Nature is not only what I see around me. It is an endless world of experience in which we are allowed to ‘be’ and where we are touched by visible and invisible things.” For Harm the concept of ‘miracle’ is the foundation of all that exists. To give expression to the dimensions of colour and depth in a landscape, he speaks of ‘layers’. “There are diverse atmospheres that, in turn, generate our differing experiences of the landscape. We don’t look at a landscape, we look into it.” Harm has exhibited in many renowned galleries since his twentieth year. www.harmvisser.nl

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1. CATALOGUE ART STATIONS OF THE CROSS – There are still some catalogues left, in English and in Dutch. You can order 1 catalogue for € 4,-, 3 for € 10,-, 10 for € 20,- or 50 for € 50,- plus postage. Order at marleen@artway.eu.

2. ROUAULT 150 – Georges Rouault, the famous French artist of faith whose work melded Fauvism and Expressionism, will be turning 150 in 2021! Book an exhibition to be part of this sesquicentennial international celebration. Exhibits are available 2020 at the eve of this tribute through all of 2021. This exhibition has intaglio prints from his famous Miserere Series, works from his Fleurs du Mals suite and several aquatints from The Passion, along with two original posters. Every Christian and all students should be familiar with this important artist of faith from the 20th century. This exhibition is perfect for colleges, seminaries, larger church galleries and museums. Seeing Christ in the Darkness ships FedEx or UPS to make shipping more affordable. Learn more by visiting the website www.BowdenCollections.com or by e-mailing sandrabowden@comcast.net.

3. MAGRUDER IN BRITISH LIBRARY – Visionary Cities by Michael Takeo Magruder in the British Library, London – Article by Revd Jonathan Evens. “The New Jerusalem, the visionary city, imagined in the Book of Revelation as the eternal environment for redeemed humanity, provided the initial inspiration for the current exhibition of four technology-based art installations by artist-in-residence, Michael Takeo Magruder, staged in the British Library’s Entrance Hall gallery. Magruder’s prizewinning A New Jerusalem is an immersive virtual reality installation which was produced in 2014 as part of De/coding the Apocalypse – a solo exhibition exploring contemporary creative visions inspired by and based on the Book of Revelation. This imagined cityscape was constructed using Google Maps data of present-day Jerusalem combined with the text of Revelation translated into data code and rendered in four-dimensional virtual space. It was this process and experience that proved inspirational for the works in Imaginary Cities.” Read more

4. SYMPOSIUM IN ZÜRICH, SWITZERLAND - 17 May – 19 May, Zürich, Kunstpositionen im Grossmünster, Fraumünster, St. Peter, Predigern, Wasserkirche und der EPI Kirche: Symposion Kult & Kommunikation. Über die neuen Verhältnisse zu Bildern in Kirche und Kunst. Die Ausräumung aller Bilder aus den Kirchen ist zentral für die Schweizerische Reformation. Der Kirchenraum erfährt eine radikale Neuausrichtung: Die Kommunikation des Evangeliums, das Wort der Bibel und ihre Auslegung bilden den Mittelpunkt des Kultes, die Bilder migrieren aus dem sakralen in den privaten, öffentlichen und ökonomischen Kontext. Wo dieser kulturverändernde Impetus der Reformation begann, wächst heute eine neue Verhältnisbestimmung. Bildende Kunst im Kirchenraum ist nicht mehr tabu – weder für die Kirche noch für die Kunst. In einer Zeit großer medialer Dynamik nähern sich Kunst und Kirche über ihre Wahrnehmungswelten und architektonischen Atmosphären wieder an. www.kultundkommunikation.ch 

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