Illustrations are powerful means to help adress social problems. With my work I like to get others thinking about the welfare of other people, animals and nature. I do this by using visual methaphors to comunicate these social topics to the viewer. Using visual metaphors often create surrealistic images that take you into visualy seductive fantasy worlds.
I mainly create contemplative art on commision to enhance texts. Besides that I make autonomous art to contribute to exhibitions about social themes . On the right a work called 'Pets vs livestock' for an exhibition about contemporary idealism (in collaboration with Stadsarchief Breda, Stedelijk Museum Breda and Electron). By reversing the appointed roles, the illustration questions the distinction people make between animal species regarding their purpose and treatment.
I like to create artworks about topics that are close to my heart like animal welfare, chronic illnes and social equality. Are you looking for visual enhancement to increase understanding about a social topic? Feel free to reach out!
Socially engaged art
I practice a new art movement I call socially engaged surrealism. This art movement combines the view of socially engaged contemporary art with the visual features of the old Surrealism.
In our current era, our media culture has created a new form of engagement in political, social and ideological fields. Artists and designers are looking for contributions to society and legitimacy for their work. I personally like to contribute to society by visually enhancing socially engaged texts, ideas and businesses. I do this by creating metaphorical images that convey your message and grab the attention of your target audience using surrealism. Surrealistic images take longer for your mind to process, so when your reader is scrolling or turning pages the chances are bigger they will stop to see what is going on in the image and get curious about the text.
Just like with the old Surrealism I visualize my associations creating absurd scenes or combinations. The big difference with the old surrealism is that the focus is no longer on the subconscious mind and the dream world, but on associations with socially engaged subjects. I make sure these associations are visual metaphors that help communicate your story to the viewer.
When confronting people with a heavy topic, surrealism is also a great way to take the viewer into a visually seductive fantasy world, before confronting them with the topic. For example the collage illustration on the left I made for a magazine about contemporary idealism called 'Oelater' (commissioned by Stadsarchief Breda and Stedelijk Museum Breda). The collage illustration takes you into a fantasy world before you realize the horrors on the background. The artwork is a metaphor of ignoring the animal suffering in the bio-industry. To prevent this collage from consisting largely of someone else's portrait photo I created the person using elements of different portraits.
I often use collage to create surrealistic images that make you contemplate on social topics, like the digital collage illustration above about the bio-industry. When an illustration is about a heavy topic sometimes collage is more powerful than drawing beacause of the realistic visual elements. I always choose the style and material matching the story and purpose of an artwork.
I like to use collage in different ways. For example combining painting and collage like the image right above. This experimental painting is a metaphor about long distance relationships. You both have a different place you see as your home (your roots) and being apart hurts the hearts you share with each other. This leads to the tough desision to let go of your roots (hometown, family and friends), decide to separate or find compromises that hopefully make both happy.
On the right another way of using collage. I made this personal artwork some years ago when I struggled severely with the chronic fatigue syndrome. This syndrome causes you to live in constant pain and exhaustion, both mentally and physically. You can no longer think properly because of the fog in your mind and it feels like you are in a live dream. In this self portrait I depicted the out of body feeling of your exhausted ghost looking at your own life without really living it. I took pictures of landscapes that expressed the calmness, emptiness and loneliness I felt, to use as a mosaic for this artwork.
Right below another artwork about CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) depicting the experience of constant stimuli. Everything is too much. Light, sound, information and movements all further increase your pain and exhaustion during the day. This artwork represents the general experience of receiving to many stimuli which occurs with many other syndromes and disorders people strugle with.
I myself am lucky that I am now (after eight years of CFS) for the first year pain and exhaustion free. Unfortunately, this does not apply to many others with chronic health problems. There are many misunderstandings about chronic illnesses. People are quick to think that you are lazy or overreacting even though they have no idea how you realy feel. That is why I think it is important to generate understanding and to educate others about chronic illnesses.