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Art does not reproduce what we see. It makes us see. Paul Klee

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Zee, Piet van der - VM - Frouckje van der Wal

 

Piet van der Zee: At Home in God’s House – The Main Tenant
 
 
Signature of the Creator
 
by Frouckje van der Wal
 
O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
 
Psalm 8:1 (NRSV)
 
Undoubtedly this will have been one of the first biblical verses that I had to learn by heart at my Christian elementary school. Did I understand the psalm at that time? I doubt it! That only came later, but even so, since then the words are carved in my memory. I have grown to love this psalm. How much David is telling us in this relatively short song. The images fly by from the very great and mighty –‘ your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established’to the very small and vulnerable ‘out themouths of babes and infants’. It places me, a human and mortal being, in the greater world of God.
 
Last year I came to know Piet van der Zee (b. 1952) and his work. Commissioned by his congregation, the Reformed Liberated Church in Bodegraven, The Netherlands, he made a series of paintings that fitted in with the theme of the year 2010, ‘At Home in God’s House’. As his point of departure he took the titles of the six chapters of the book with the same title by Ds. Gerrit Gunnink about being reformed and contemporary, which served as a guideline for the year. This painting is the first of the series. Van der Zee himself writes about it:
 
Who is the main tenant?
 
Since the space telescope Hubble started working we can see the most beautiful images of the firmament. Do take a look at www.HubbleSite.org. What does a nebula look like, what is the form of our own Milky Way? Would it be similar to what the painting is showing us? The Bible does not take long to tell us about the mystery of the cosmos. Further on God takes Abram outside and promises him an offspring as the stars in the heavens (Genesis 15:5). What a unfathomable miracle. God knows all the stars by name. Try to imagine this! The almighty God for whom a light year forms no restriction. When Job in all his sorrow confronted God, he was also taught this wise lesson. See Job 38 : 31-33 and Isaiah 40:25, 26.
 
Piet van der Zee has found a fitting image to portray one of the great mysteries of faith: God’s house encompassing everything. God himself is the main tenant. He is the one who has invented, built and designed it all. This is so inconceivably big that I become very small. I can only look up, away from myself. My own worries, my own ego, are not so important anymore when I try to take in God’s grandeur. Writer and poet Rien van den Berg translated the first lines of Psalm 8 as follows:
 
O Lord, our Lord, your signature
stands wonderfully beneath all of the world.
 
Here we have God’s signature above, beneath and penetrating our entire existence. In comparison my own scrawl pales into insignificance. This is what Piet’s painting makes me see.
 
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Piet van der Zee (1952) is autodidact. He has always had an interest in drawing and painting, but chose a different profession. The last five years, however, painting has become increasingly important in his life. Piet works in his home at paintings with realistic themes rendered in ways faithful to nature. By copying paintings he is developing his own style. The series At Home in God’s House was commissioned by his own church and consists of six works of 120 x 120 cm. The works have been painted with acrylics on masonite, an oil impregnated plate. They hang in the Ichtuskerk in Bodegraven.
 
Frouckje van der Wal (1976) studied art history in Utrecht with modern and contemporary art as specialisations. She is a freelance writer and increasingly occupied with graphic design.
 
ArtWay Visual Meditation August 7, 2011