The Tokyo & Mexico City series, Personal notes, Part 1

Yanaka, a night view, 1998. 85x235cm, Oil on Canvas.

A view of Yanaka neighbourhood from Tokyo's Geidai 8th floor. Evening, lights go off and on, buildings appear and disappear. The Night Show. The Tokyo sky glows in the pink colour of city neon. Only the graveyard pulls you into its dark blues. The big residential building opposite the school always reminded me of Israel for some strange reason, something Mediterranean about it, might be its bright yellow colour, maybe its accessibility: the tenants lives are on display, a family sits down to the diner table, on the upper floor a man is watching TV. Some strange shadows on the next flat, like an Indonesian puppet theatre. Fights, a party, love, a curtain drawn closed. I immerse myself in the blue of Tokyo night; the window is wide open, cold wind enters the studio. I paint as fast as I can, before all the tenants will retire and turn off the light show, any moment the assistant lecturer on duty might knock on the door, saying it is closing time.
Dragon pieces, 1998. 170x100 cm, Oil on canvas.

When I was in primary school, pupils who misbehaved during the classes were sometimes ordered, as a punishment, to stand in the corner of the class and face the bare wall. Sometimes I put my self in visual ‘corners', in suffocating visual spaces, which forces me to reexamine my painting vocabulary. Spaces where by the use of colors, forms and brush strokes I set myself free. ‘ Dragon pieces' is an attempt to bring into the rigid baroque design personal elements. Setting my self-free from the world of reason into the world of emotions.
The Abduction of Hester C. Trompetter. 1999, 110x147cm, Oil on Canvas.

Hester was my mother. And on the 2nd of April 1999 she died from Breast Cancer.
The complete period of my Masters' course training (1999-2001) was overshadowed by her loss.
This painting, painted in the immediate months after her death, tries to give a form to sorrow, to pain, anger and other emotions that swept me in this period.
This painting corresponds with an early portrait I created, back in the Netherlands in 1990, Hester C. Trompetter holding her son In the Dutch painting, I portray my mother as a young child who holds a little man-puppet that resembles me. The little man is possibly trying to escape the grip of the little child, possibly giving in to the hold. I have based this painting on a childhood photo of my mother, where she poses with a little doll. My mother was visiting the Netherlands during the time I was working on this painting and I asked her to pose for me, filling the years in the girl-child portrait. Upon my mother's death I was trying to portray her again, but being too emotional for such an act, I decided to come back to this early portrait and to use the girl child image again. Describing her departure, her abduction. It is sad that the little puppet man, finally managing to escape the grip of the little girl, is creating this image of longing

Hester C. Trompetter holding her son, 1991, 110x80cm, Oil on Canvas.

At the Hospital, 1999. 72.5x60 cm, Oil on Canvas.

Y. San sits for me in a pose that blurs the border between a woman and a child. The borders are often blurred here, in Japan. An unspoken gender game.
5000 miles away from here, at the hospital, my mother is sitting on her death bad, frightened. Her body systems are collapsing. The borders between a woman and a child are blurred.
"That Red Fluid" (The Adriamycin Room) 2000, 162x130cm, Oil on Canvas.

"That red fluid" was the way my mother named the Chemical-Therapy medicine that was used on her in an attempt to fight her cancer. I accompanied her once to the hospital to see the dripping of this bright red medicine (Adriamycin) into her vein. My mother feared this medicine. Its weekly injection caused her, among other things, hair loss, and constant nausea. Eventually, her death was due to the devastating affect of the medicine, rather than the cancer cells themselves.
Sometimes, during the work on this painting, I felt as if I was painting a coffin. From the inside. The blue sky's reflection promised hope.
Untitled (raid) 2000. 170x122 cm. Oil on Canvas.

In Raid I used as an initial image a photo, published in the 1960s in a Japanese magazine. The image captures the moment of a Japanese officials raid on a boat of illegal Korean immigrants. The immigrants were caught sleeping and I can imagine the cameraman, sneaking quietly to the upper beams of the ship, in order to capture this perfect moment. The original photo reminded me of the horror of Picasso's painting Guernica. However, unlike Picasso's creation, only the victims are being portrayed. This image joins together the hunters and their prey. Entwined in some macabre choreography. On a more personal level I wanted to use this image in order to describe the way one faces one's death. Recalling different moments, phases, in my mother's dying months, moments where she would be gripped by fear, moments of acceptance and others, where she would get dressed up, wear her make up and try to seduce death, try to sweet talk him to go away.
The Foreigner of Kamakura, 2000. 160x237cm, Oil on Canvas.

F. in Japan. Moaning, hurting, spitting, sweating, cursing, crying, struggling, like a rope-dancer, not to fall in between the garden's stones. No safety net awaits you here, dear. Careful, you might crush your skull on the gentle moss.
Continued here
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