David Yarrow


Text and questions Alexander Moust 


Dear David. First of all thank you so much for receiving a long lasting visual and textual delight as part of myself reviewing your book and work.


If myself and all the readers of this magazine were aliens coming from another galaxy and I would find your books or prints as the sole reminders of human and animal life on earth.. ( after some comet struck planet earth and you were clever enough to hide your visual testimony in a solid sarcophagus, and we had just found it! ..).
What would we learn from looking at your pictures or deciphering your texts, you believe?

I hope the aliens would learn about the biodiversity of our planet, the extreme climates, extreme topographies and the extraordinary photography equipment with which to record it with.


If I slowly absorb and digest the imagery (after reading the preface and small portfolio of wild life animals from all over the globe) going front to back in 'WILD ENCOUNTERS', I see pictures of men and husky sleigh dogs at around minus 20 degrees Celcius at 73 degrees north of the equator in Nunavat, Canada iving in extremely remote, isolated and harsh conditions. 

What have you learned from going to extreme surroundings like that?

The fortitude of family values are not determined by race, creed, climate, wealth or location.

Black and White versus Color & Digital versus Analog: In general, you choose to print in Black and White. However you work with (sometimes remote) digital cameras, therefore your digital images can come out as RAW or (Seen the fact you use NIKONs) NEFs in full color. However; only a few pictures in the books are in color. Why did you choose accordingly?

I think that black and white is a perception rather than reality and maybe sometimes we need a little less reality. Someone once said if I photograph in color I see people’s clothes, when I photograph in black and white I see their souls – I think the same is true of animals – it’s good to be reductive.

It is also timeless – the elephants I photograph could be a million years old because they are black and white.

The graphical quality of B&W is ...as I believe you said: 'timeless'. Don't you miss working with pure analog color or B&W slide film for example: the feeling of texture and tangible footage. The one, single negative or positive image that has captured the ultimate moment?

I think there is misplaced sense of romanticism in this question. Digital imagery has no less soul or authenticity than film. I’m sure Steven Spielberg or Clint Eastwood would echo these sentiments. Photographic art is about the content in front of the lens and the soul of the person behind it.


The animals you have portrayed in WILD ENCOUNTERS are almost all mammals; why have you chosen these?

The most likely alternatives are fish and birds and we people do not fly in the sky nor swim in the sea. It’s difficult to have your own personal narrative or context. Meanwhile insects have never really been my thing.

Further down in the book we eventually get to the equator where humans are sort of 'reintroduced' to the spectators' eyes, living alongside herded animals.
It strikes me that photographing and documenting the life of animals WITH people in between the 70 degrees up north (above the arctic circle) and the equator were perhaps... less appealing to you. Or was this your artistic or any other choice?

I like documenting human life on the edge and I didn’t feel there was as much engaging content in other locations.

We also see the first human warriors appearing with machetes or Kalashnikovs in the middle of the book. Also, you introduce the first woman there. Would you like to comment on why this selection was made?

The most important variable is the strength of the photographs. They need to be visually strong and compositionally powerful. Every photograph had to merit its place in the book

How many and which types of cameras and lenses were wracked in the process of shooting over the last 10 years?

At least 10 DSLR’s. I lost 3 the other day in Alaska!


What was the most dangerous encounter ever for you and why?

People are always more dangerous than animals. People can smoke weed, drink alcohol and operate guns – sometimes all at once. Those are the most dangerous encounters.

david-yarrow-wildlife-encounters-01Human Life versus Animal Life; predator and prey.

If you look from a human perspective we could say that we, the modern man and the so-called civilized society we sprout from, have outnumbered or made extinct many life forms over the course of almost 100 to 200 years. We (meaning: our species) killed them, slaughtered them or simply have taken or disrupted their eco-systems or territories. Before the age of industrialization and globalization, there was as much threat from animal life and diseases towards us, humans, then vice versa. Animals, however, do not 'know' that they are endangered as a species. They do not keep track records, send each other emails or make TV shows on how many of their fellow family members across the globe still eat and breath, like we humans do.

They simply defend what they believe is their livelihood. How would you describe the word: TRIBAL?
How could you compare wild animal life with that of indigenous life forms of fellow human beings?
Or: What do you believe animals or indigenous tribes do better than we, as in: the self-proclaimed civilized modern men and woman?

I think to ascribe the word tribal solely to indigenous communities is a little old fashioned. Many would contend that the cop at Liverpool football club is tribal and the yellow wall of Borussia Dortmund is tribal. Tribal has become a word with a small t rather than a capital T. But here in lies the answer to your question – tribal communities have a capacity to collectively look after their own as do some animals. Manhattan is a Noah’s ark of 40 or 50 different tribes – Italians, Irish, Orthodox Jews, Mexicans, their communities are more cohesive than Manhattan as a whole. When I think of tribes I think of solidarity.

From all the animals and people you were able to get up really close to; which ones did you bond with most?

The Dutch – only joking! I would say simians – we are related. We are going to always find a bigger connection with a gorilla than a zebra. I have no idea what is going on in a Zebras head, and I’m not sure the Zebra does. But a mountain gorilla high up in volcano national park in Ruanda – when face to face – damn right there’s a connection.

Do you believe that mammals feel like us? Do mammals carry emotions and share sentiments with one another?
Or do mammals pass on knowledge through 'language'?

To borrow from Jane Austen – I’m in awe of the sensibility of elephants. They are majestic mammals with far bigger brains than we could ever comprehend. It is the one animal in the world where I think I can detect not just anger but happiness and sadness.

After I have taken pictures, I usually show a top 5 selection to those who or portrayed. People love it (mostly). However, my dog can't be bothered nor do the sea eagles (with a wingspan of 6ft) care a flying duck that I photographed them - like yourself- in the high arctic. Quite a large sum of money of sales of your work goes back into TUSK, which helps preserve wildlife.

Have you considered giving back to the indigenous people you photographed or how do you deal with them after their photographs get published? How do they react to their photos being published and sold worldwide?

I’ve never been asked this question before and I respect you for asking it. There is no point sending money – our preferred routes of emotional investment in tribes is to look after them when we are there rather than retrospectively. If you do that and come back you will always be remembered. Whenever we go to so called tribal communities we bring polaroid cameras so that they can take pictures of their loved ones, see them develop in front of them and then keep the pictures. – That little bit of magic goes a long way.

david_yarrow_tigerPreservation and Survival of the original habitats of both humans and animal life forms.
There is still a large and often illegal trade in both tusks (elephant) or horns (rhino), living predators or wild and rare animals across the globe. This enhances poachers' chances to make a (basic)living of wildlife running around in their nearby eco-system.

How do you feel about trophy hunters who spend 100 thousands of dollars on shooting (killing) wild animals like lions, rhinos, giraffes for their own fun?

This is a question that deserves a 20,000 word answer not 100 words. Of course I question the strength of character of those that indulge in this medieval behavior in the same way that I question the strength of character of someone entering a brothel, but – and here’s the thing, paying prostitutes and paying for the right to kill animals are often both legal and we should respect the law to the extent that in most places common law is deemed to be the derivation of a democratic process. The problem is that the issue is complicated by the fact that these hunters are a big income provider from income starved parts of Africa. Generally - people who pay big money to shoot big animals are those same arseholes that maybe need to go to a brothel too.

A Dutch NGO (Stichting Aap) bought a huge plot of land in Spain recently to give shelter to underfed or neglected wild pets ( tigers, lions or bears) coming from bankrupt, abolished and redundant circuses or private collectors, who bought them on the black market.
How do you believe as a supporting Tusk Trust affiliated photographer - that preservation of (wild)life should continue in the future?

By exactly that – by buying land. It’s about the only way. The other charity I work with – WildArk focus their efforts on this.


As we are in Amsterdam, home to a large range of museums and galleries which are often testimony of the preserved life of both wealthy and common people of ages ago in paintings, objects and etchings.
How do you see your work in relation to old masters?

Holland has punched above its weight in the art world for 700 years. From 1400 to 1900 it was arguably the preeminent art force in the world. I have learned a lot from them. People can look at a Rembrandt for two hours and people should be able to do the same with a photograph. The level of detail Johannes Vermeer managed to get into his portraits is something to aspire to. The Rijksmuseum is in my opinion is the best in the world and it makes me want to get better and better as an artist.

The current president of the US, Trump, for some reason wants to cut down the amount of reservation land in the US (source: the Guardian). I personally strongly believe, that we have to make sure that to be able to preserve a wide variety of livestock in the wild we will have to initiate and preserve more 'wild territories' (Meaning no humans intervention or just marginally on the preservation sites). And besides that we will have to stop temperatures rising to levels where all life is endangered; both animal and human life.
How do you feel about :

a) Trump's decision to try to reduce the size of nature reserves (often holy land to native Americans) in the US?
b) The idea that we are only at the start of a true preservation age if it comes down to species and indigenous human life forms or animal wildlife?

I don’t want to talk about Trump – but I can send a picture – it’s called – “It’s only a matter of Time” – I’ll let your readers figure out where I was going with that.

There is momentum in awareness of what will happen if we do nothing. We must all do more.

In this book: 'Wild Encounters' you've gone up to many remote locations on our planet. I read that often you are in awe of the surroundings and the opportunities life has given you to document wildlife in its purest form. Could you give two examples of situations in which you felt :

a) humbled by the size and nature of a wildlife environment?
b) humbled or with a deep feeling of respect for those who live in the wild, away from the safe civilized world, we mostly live in?

The killer whales beaching themselves attacking seals on the shore in Argentina is one of the great spectacles in the world – but it is reportage not art.

The dustbowl of Amboseli is also the theatre of dreams for me.

The Inuit communities from Nunuvat live in incredibly harsh conditions. It’s unbearably cold up there.


I guess you and I are both conservationists at the core of our existence. Capturing life in a decent photograph is a unique testimony of time and grace. However, photographs and texts in books only can't make preservation come to full fruition in the long run. Let's get into our virtual alien time machine: let's go back in time 160 years, David:

What would you think Charles Darwin writer of  'on the origin of species', published on 24 November 1859, would have done or thought if he were able to comment on and research the current ecological and social issues humans and animals are facing? 

I think he might have said that he had misjudged totally the issue of population growth. I think he would realize that population growth is the major threat to the biodiversity of our planet.

And coming from that knowledge and our current knowledge: How could you and all of us help to make preservation NGO's and governments' visions or ideas on the preservation of endangered species and life forms come true? Where should our focus be on?

Helping to buy land – either through awareness, lobbying or money


Thank you so much, David. And looking forward to meeting you and seeing your pictures in full size prints at your next show in Amsterdam or possibly elsewhere.

Alexander Moust - copyright 2017-2018

Jennybird Alcantara

‘For me, strange and unusual is beautiful’

Interview door Kamiel Proost

If I would ever meet publisher Benedikt Taschen, I would propose him to start a new Art book series: ‘Great Unknown Artists’. For there are so many just too shy, too modest and too much introverted silent geniuses in the world that the series could be endless. The first featured artist should be: Jennybird Alcantara. When I dive into the oil painted mirrors of her soul I am left speechless by a complex world of bleeding lambs, shy dancing bears and caged dreaming girls. She’s like Frida Kahlo without the moustache, picking dandelions on rollers skates in Golden Gate Park. For me as a surrealist painter myself, I feel her visual language so well that I am left without questions, for her paintings are the answer. I need some help, from a specialist in Female Mythology and other stuff unknown to men. Thank God it’s weekend and my six-year-old daughter Gabriella is in the house. As we watch the paintings on Jennybird’s website I ask her if she finds them scary. She seems surprised: ‘No… Dad’ she says ‘She just paints what belongs to her. She paints what she is…’


Does she have sad paintings and happy paintings?

I’m interested in the dualities of life, and so happy and sad can’t exist without each other.  I personally think you can find both in most paintings. My work explores mystery, transformation and the sacred.

Existing between a waking and dream state, the archetypal anthropomorphic creatures that are a part of my visual language attempt to illuminate the invisible threads of connection between sentient beings and the environments they inhabit. Depictions of Flora and Fauna integrated with human and animal characters serve as metaphor for the connections between all living things. Darkness and light are at constant play and I try to maintain a tender balance between the two.

jenny_bird_3I_bleedMy daughter and her best friend Lola do stress me many times that they believe in Fantasy. Unicorns do exist they tell me. ‘Does she believe in Fantasy?’

I think there are so many mysterious things in the universe; it’s hard to not believe in fantasy. I feel like  part of my motivation to paint is to create these unusual places I’d like to step into to explore. I actually see most of my paintings as a window into this universe, just one little peek into something quite vast just out of view. There are often winding paths into the depths of my paintings and I feel like I’m always trying to get back there and see what is beyond.  Each new painting is a piece in the puzzle.

Why is she called Jennybird and why is the wooden girl cut in half?

The name Jennybird came actually as a nickname almost 20 years ago when I started dating my now husband. When he met me and came to my studio so many of the paintings I was working on at the time had birds and rabbits and since he kind of identified with the rabbit character I became the bird to him, so right away he started calling me Jennybird. Before I met him I was just plain Jenny. So many people know me now as Jennybird it almost feels weird to be called just Jenny. The Wooden girl isn’t just cut in half; she’s the one in possession of the axe, she cut herself in half. The symbolism for me in the works that depict elements of the main character being made of wood or having wooden legs are about freedom, escape and enlightenment: she cuts either her ankle like a trapped animal would to free themselves or she’s depicted as cutting herself in two; both are about escape, not just the body escaping danger but releasing her spirit or subconscious trapped inside.

You know Gabriella, I want to ask her something: ‘I feel a lot of sadness and loneliness in her paintings. So I want to ask her if she is sad and lonely…?’

There is definitely a melancholy in my work, I can see that interpretation but I also hope the viewer through the balance of mystery can have a lighter experience with it too. But yes it can be very lonely being an artist. You spend most of your time alone in you studio working if you’re dedicated to your craft; that isolation is necessary for me to produce my work, but it can be lonesome and lonesomeness can lead to sadness. But people that know me know that I have a pretty dark sense of humor and can be pretty silly too.

jenny_bird_9Calipers_of_the_museYou could be world famous, are you afraid fame would disturb your world and work?

I don’t know about world famous, I do my art first for me but the job isn’t finished there because art is my way of expressing myself, it’s my preferred language so sharing it with others is my way of connecting. However, it’s quite alright if -not everyone “speaks my language”, it makes the people that do speak it all the more special and like a secret club. I want to be able to keep doing what I do and in practical terms you need an audience to be able to survive as a professional artist, but I wouldn’t let the audience dictate my direction. I fight vehemently against it whenever a thought floats into my mind questioning if someone would even buy this painting, or if it would be  too “weird”? Then I say sorry to the inner critic and state that if it’s strange it’s gonna be strange. There’s always some unique soul out there a painting speaks to, it doesn’t have to be masses of people it only needs one. So no I wouldn’t let being “famous” change my work. It’s my job to bring it “here” and it’s the works job to find that one heart to plunge its teeth into. But if it grabs a bunch of hearts? All the better.

What would you wish for a change in the world?

I wish that human beings wouldn’t be so afraid of the dark places within themselves. Those dark places need exploring too. I think that if people could slow down, be quiet and alone and not afraid to explore their own depths they might find you can’t truly enjoy the light without knowing the darkness. The deep places inside are where discoveries are made epiphanies, and where life and growth begins. If people are always living on the surface they don’t grow and therefore don’t see and really understand that we are all basically the same, and that not caring for another person, animal, or the planet is as unhealthy as not caring for yourself. That said, I don’t really have a rosy outlook for the world we live in right now. I’m not a glass half empty woman but I’m not a glass half full woman either. I’m more of a “There’s water in that glass what are you gonna do with it?” kind of lady.

jennybird_alcantara2d990d2cfd0151a1133f227d066437eeI see no man in your paintings. I see girls and animals, an occasional fox that might be male... explain!?...

My work is really this inner dialog with myself and I’m female so the protagonist is always female. Everything else in the works from the animals to the plant life, other characters and symbolism are all parts or attributes of her and reference back to the protagonist. Sometimes I view some of these “totems” as male but depicted in animal form. I do get this question semi regularly and I’ve actually never until this moment wondered if this fact about my work makes men feel excluded from it in a way, I certainly hope not.

Why did you move from San Fransisco to Oakland?

We wanted to live in the sun, we were living in the fog near the beach in San Francisco for around 12 years. But also we wanted to buy a house and the cost of homes in SF is outrageous. The stars aligned and we were able to find a house in Oakland that we love, with a huge yard for our dogs and Johns love of gardening as well as a good size studio for me. We really love it on this side of the bay.

There’s more serendipity about our house and you don’t need to include it in the write up but its a super cool story so I’ll tell you. First let me start by saying the name for our house in SF was “Birds Nest”. John had given it that name and whenever we or our friends referred to our house it was the Birds Nest this Birds nest that, come to a party at the Birds Nest etc… When we left SF John said we’ll need a new name for the new house, to which I protested greatly. Flash forward to 6 months in the new house. Our home was built in 1896. The original builder was a missionary, Carrie Judd Montgomery, that built and ran a huge 4 story lodging place across the street that was a place for traveling missionaries coming to the San Francisco area to stay. John loves history so he went down to the city records office and looked though old newspapers about this woman missionary who with her wealthy husband built our house. What he found was shocking, an article in the news paper in 1896 mentioning our address and that it was the latest addition to Carrie Judd Montgomery’s Birds Nest! She had several homes where she housed orphans and ours was one of them. The best part of his discovery was that we wouldn’t have to change the name since it was called a Birds Nest over 100 years ago!


Yoko d’Holbachie

There were so many monsters around me as a child, a small snake or glowing beetle or myxomycete around the foot of a tree…’


If God ever wants to re-design this Uni-verse I would advise Him, Her, or It to pass by the studio of YOKO D’ HOLBACHIE in Yokohama, Japan. As a Goddess with a brush, she creates Mystic Angels out of the darkness. Her cute appearance and pretty face don’t show the earthquakes on the bottom of her ocean, setting off a Tsunami of Rainbow DNA. In the foam we discover amazing deep sea animals and spirits still unknown to science.  She is an unstoppable eight armed Art Octopus Queen on the rise in the Pop Surrealism scene. With Japanese discipline and dedication, she is popping out master pieces like a popcorn machine. Amsterdam Enjoy is honored to publish just a few stunning creatures out of Her Uni-verse - or should I say Yoko-verse…?

Yoko_new_unnamedCould you tell us a bit more about how you as a child fantasized about those surreal figures in your paintings?

In my childhood, I often played with the bizarre figures in my imagination and painted them a lot. I remember that I often thought about the skin color of human beings in other people’s paintings, which were all beige and boring without any patterns on it. People around me felt kind of creepy about the figures with octopus feet, horns or third eyes that I painted, but I really liked it. There were no grown-ups who took painting tools away from me, because I didn’t paint such evil figures that made my parents consult with a doctor. Then fortunately I kept on painting with almost the same style.

Apparently you have a big fascination and passion for nature and animals. Was that difficult to find in the concrete jungle of Yokohama? Where did you go to explore nature?

Yokohama, my hometown is now a touristic place with a gigantic ferris wheel and a lot of tall buildings. But there used to be some greens or woods 40 years ago. There were so many monsters around me as a child, a small snake or glowing beetle or myxomycete around the foot of a tree…  I often went to the sea with my family for snorkeling, a few hours away by car. The sea itself is a mass of creatures so I’ve got influenced a lot by it.

 Yoko_yokoAfter your study in art you had your first exposition in Shibuya, what do you remember the most and how did people react on your art?

Well, people got surprised. They reacted not like ‘beautiful!’ or ‘interesting’ but with screams such as ‘what??’ or ‘Geez!’. In Japan a kind of ‘healing’ artworks are common, so it was not that strange that people reacted in such ways. Needless to say, it was my intention as well.

 You had a big success in the United States, where you won an award on a contest. How did this new adventure begin?

The wide spread of the Internet was a big opening for me in becoming a professional painter. I got the contest information online and it was also through the Internet that the artworks on my web gallery managed to get spread worldwide within a year. If the Internet had not existed, I would have had to fly to the U.S. for promotion. Well, if so, it would not have been that bad, but it would have taken a longer time to get there.

Besides painting you also worked for magazines, books, videogames and design for entertainment. Plus you made sculptures. Are you still making these cute little sculptures?

I haven’t designed videogames since more than 10 years ago, but I really want to make sculptures again when I have time. I started it since my student days actually. So I supervise and order the toy company in Taiwan to make sculptures, but indeed I would rather make them by myself.

Yoko_dholbachie_6Your incredible detailed figures, with fascinating uplifting colors and energy are often combined with a dark side. How rebellious are you?

I was a child full of fear, so often my vivid imagination full of various eerie things kept me up at night. Sometimes I could really see them as real! Midnight is not a time for children. There could be mysterious monsters walking outside. In a way I wanted to see them, but it was all very scary… Then after I grew up, I went outside around midnight.  And discovered there was nothing mysterious. I felt relieved but bored. Some people commented on my work: ‘Yoko’s artworks remind us of childhood’s nightmares’. Yes, I want to share those unknown and mysterious nights through my artworks.

You mentioned before that Japanese legends and myths helped you to create subjects in your art, in which way?

Like in many countries, legends and myths here have evolved into mysterious and bizarre things. While handed down through many, many years they incorporated extra images, or got combined with other stories and mutated. Sometimes they synchronize with my bizarre figures. Then I mix them up and create new figures.

How do you start a painting and which materials do you use?

I can’t remember exactly when, but I already wanted to be a painter in my childhood. (And surprisingly, it has never changed!) Oil pastel was the first material I used. Then color pencil and watercolor paint, and after that oil paints. At the university, I also used acrylic paint and resin clay. While working at the game company, I did digital paint as well.

Yoko_dholbachie_45Is there an average time it takes you to accomplish a painting?

It depends on the size, but it takes about two or three weeks to finish one artwork. I usually work from midnight till morning so I actually haven’t counted my work time exactly.

When looking at your paintings, it seems like part of your inspiration comes from spirituality. We see cryptic symbols, third eyes, chakras, and other hidden state of minds. Did you already have this spiritual inclination at a young age?

I think the spiritual world and religious symbols used to be closer to daily life in Japan. Even in my childhood I realized this. For example, at the entrance of my school, there was a small pile of salt for ritual purification. Everyone knows that talismans at the shrine nearby should never be peeled off. When I stayed up late, my grandmother sometimes said: "A demon will come!". And Japanese kanji and family crests are full of symbols of nature and culture. Daily life is a fantasy world for children and I still feel the same.

 ‘Amsterdam Enjoy’ featured many great artists in the pop art/surrealism scene like you. Do you have any favorites?

Yes, a lot. To start with a picture book writer called Brian Wildsmith, who passed away last year, but taught me freedom of color in my childhood. I encountered DADARA’s solo exhibition in Amsterdam (!) when I was a student of art school, and that made a big impact. I really fell in love with his cute and immoral characters. The first artist I’ve known of Surrealism was Naoto Hattori, he taught me the existence of that style. Comic artist Jim Woodring gave me motivation to exhibit in the United States. His artworks make me forget that we’re in this reality world. And I can't take my eyes off Peca, who will exhibit together with me next year with great works!

Previous work of you has been shown in the Kochbox Gallery, but you haven't been to Amsterdam yet. Any chance you will visit The Netherlands soon?

I couldn’t come to Amsterdam for the exhibition, but I’ve been there when I was an art school student. I remember it being full of art and very cozy, so I definitely want to visit again. I’m looking forward to joining some exhibitions there in the future.


Ray Caesar

‘My happiest time was playing alone with dolls’

‘There’s a fragile part of me in every picture’

Meet artist Ray Caesar through his past, present and future

At first, when you catch a glimpse of his artwork, the ultrachromes display a nice, lovely scenery with a cute little girl in it. But at second sight you notice something strange in the posture of the female figure. And why is she so pale and white? The eyes, they are not natural. And then you notice that her legs are in fact the tentacles of an octopus and the surreal effect is complete. Welcome in the wonderful classic, eerie world of Ray Caesar, who is widely seen as the godfather of the digital surrealistic art movement. We asked him about his past, present and future.


This year kind of marks the 15th anniversary of Ray Caesar’s life as an artist. A career that has taken the world by storm. From the first moment his wonderful, intriguing, computer animated art was out there, people were captivated by it. He has admirers and fans from all over the world (like Madonna) and his work is wanted by collectors and museums. Even though he himself truly does not enjoy showing his work. Amsterdam Enjoy meets the intriguing mr Caesar for an exclusive interview.


When did you decide to start making artwork?

“I don't think I ever made a conscious decision to be an artist but I have always made Art. I think I was doing exactly what I am doing now when I was 8 or 10 years old but back then I called it ‘play’. All these years I have simply used images as a coping mechanism and never really thought of it as a profession. In Art College I studied Architecture and Design but during the late 1970s there were no architectural jobs due to a recession, so I took a temporary job in the Art and Photography Department of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. I only intended to stay there for a few months but ended up working there for 17 years. During those years, dealing with children with suspected cases of abuse and other traumatic conditions of childhood made me confront my own brutal and abusive past. I felt working in the hospital was a worthwhile endeavour and it did become the foundation of my work and taught me many things. After leaving the hospital, I worked as a computer animator and modeller in the film industry for several years and was nominated for the Emmy and Gemini awards, but after several deaths in my family, I decided to start showing my own artwork in galleries. That was a difficult decision, as I truly do not enjoy showing my work.”


How does it help you to deal with your past by making art?

“I think making images is very much like writing in a diary. In fact, my sketches are in fact diaries with images and words combined. In childhood I developed a fantasy world that evolved into what is now described as a ‘paracosm’: a highly detailed alternate existence that I used as an escape and as a coping mechanism to endure a strange and violent family that was wrought with narcissism, sadism and psychopathy. Pictures became the doorway to my safe haven and a place to preserve some form of sanity and innocence; as a way to keep control of my emotions, which were also becoming quite violent. I also developed several alternate personalities, which I think can easily be seen in my current work. The process is a definite coping mechanism for me but the result that others see as art is definitely an added benefit.“

What is your happiest memory from childhood?

“I developed a wonderful love for dogs and an amazement of all animal life. I used to bring home any little creature I could find and keep it for a time as a pet, feed it and then let it go. I would feed stray cats, birds and even mice and snakes. But my happiest time was playing alone with dolls as I felt they talked to me, looked after me and I was able to express myself with them in quite unusual ways. I posed them and made environments for them and dressed them up in handmade clothing. As a child I also loved dressing up as a girl when alone in front of the mirror. I know my bi-gender identity is a mix of both male and female, and my work expresses this, even if my own self image that I present does not. I feel I present as a very boring, tidy, quiet, kind, grey man in this world and my work is another way to present my subconscious soul - almost in a kind of reversal reflection or the other side of a coin.“

Is there ever an end to the past in your mind?

“My past builds my future. I use the emotional memory of my past as a form of positive and negative energy, like a lump of plasticine that I can manipulate and mould into tangible solid reality in the future. In many ways ‘memory’ is my medium, just like paint. Each piece of art is formed with material from the past, into a piece of art that sits on the wall but it also functions as a doorway into a world that came from the fabric of who I am. There is a linear logic to taking subconscious emotions and memory, and creatively twisting it to form a solid image that is on canvas or paper that can be experienced by a viewer. And the viewing of it changes and completes it.

Will there ever be a moment in time when you can let it all go?

“In many ways I tried to ‘let it all go’ many, many years ago but it festered in my subconscious and came back to hurt me in forms of dissociative problems, anxiety disorders and even physical pain. Post traumatic stress from early childhood is the most difficult form of trauma to let go of when it occurs before we could speak and manifests before we develop the ability to retain memory around the age of 3 to 5. For me it's not about letting it go but how to use negative energy in a positive way to create my future. An adult that has experienced trauma may be able to let the past event go with a good therapist, but for a child that carries it into adulthood, that trauma tends to be with them for a very long time as it forms the foundation of their personality.

I have been going to therapy for about 10 years now and I know for a certainty that my past could easily have turned me into a monster, but I made a subconscious choice as a child to protect the fragile part of myself in a unique way. I hid it in a picture and the picture hid that part of me in an imaginary world I made in the deepest part of my mind. All I am doing now is letting it out to sit in the sun. It's like I am living my life in reverse - the older I get the more freedom and love and playfulness expresses itself as my work, but for me it’s really still just ‘play’.”


Ray_caesar_girl_in_a_red_chaperoneWhat effect has the immense and almost immediate success of your work had on you?

“I am a very quiet person who likes to blend in the background and observe. I don't really think any attention is about me but the main interest is about the work itself. I think success is an illusion and I work hard to not measure myself by the success of my pictures. My ‘self’ is a separate endeavor that has more to do with my own ethical judgment of who I am. I would love to attend my openings if no one knew who I was and I could just mingle and listen to other people talk rather than having to listen to me talk. I don't mind social media and it's a way for me to meet some absolutely wonderful people and observe their lives, to see and hear the things they love. I find it a wonderful source of inspiration seeing images and words streaming past that people post - it fits with my self definition of an observer.

As far as interviews are concerned: I like that they make me answer questions I wouldn't normally ask myself, just as art does. It becomes a method of personal discovery to answer a question you would never ask yourself.”

Do you participate in modern day life?

“I keep a strong interest in a handful of things and make sure I am not overwhelmed by the large world of infinite insatiable desires. I love anything to do with humanity's quest for technology and space exploration, and sometimes think the only hope for our planet is if our species get off it as soon as possible. I read and spend a lot of time involved with philosophy and psychotherapy and the nature of human conscious awareness. I love and contribute to the environment and I am an avid gardener. I feel it's my responsibility to be aware of politics and vote with my conscience. Politically I always see both sides to issues and spend a lot of time reading and gathering opinions from many sides before I can make a serious informed decision.  I am not interested in what I think is right; I am interested in ‘what is right’.  Did I mention I love dogs? I love spending time with dogs as they are the only creatures that will get down on the floor to play and make fools of themselves, but a second later will defend their family with incredible ferocity and their very life.”

What kind of process do you go through when making a new model?

“It's not so much about making the models as evolving each part of the separate pieces of the model over many years. It's the same way we evolve parts of our personalities of the improvements in aspects of our character. I can spend hours working out the right way a thumb can bend or the subtlety of a smile and the shape of posture. There are many parts of a model that can’t be seen. Sometimes I mix gender and have unusual hermaphroditic genitalia or scars of torn angelic wings or twisted nails on toes.

There is a strange process of aging my figures, giving them names and differing personalities.  I think of them as subconscious companions or parts of ‘me’ as they are self reflections and a form of self portrait. They become archetypes from a personal mystical mythology that is pertinent to my own life.

‘The Basement’ is a metaphor for my subconscious virtual paracosm; the place I play and work and create, and in many ways is a reflection the digital virtual world created in Maya (the software program Ray Caesar works with, red). It seems a strange world to some but it's a good world and has the best of intentions.”


Why do we see so many masks in your work?

“The mask is something we all wear, what we present to the world, and is a metaphor for the conscious expression we show others. The naked face below the mask is our subconscious expression and sometimes we don't even know the identity of that countenance that is just below the surface. Underneath the mask is the place we can be hurt and damaged, so we protect that part of who we are in many ways known and unknown. The cat is feral and is often an expression of my mother or the ferocity we express, even though there is innocence below. The bat is me; the child who was born and lived upside down, who would prowl in a mask and cape around the hallways at night in the tenement I grew up in. Devils and Minotaurs are like Asterion, the monster I could have become. The wolf is my father, or the base expression of the primitive animal at the root of each of us. The tentacles are the deformity of mind but also represent the actual physical deformity of my father's feet, my father had childhood arthritis. He hid his feet behind a mask and my brother would often tell me he had hoven feet; in seeing them you might also think the same.

It's all an archetypal mythology of my life, a way for me to deal with who I am and the way my history made me that way. It’s an effort to understand not just my physical conscious world, but also the subconscious world within that I am still discovering. “

Do you feel content with what you’ve accomplished as an artist?

“Quite honestly I don't feel any sense of being content when it comes to my art and it's that lack of satisfaction that leads to making the next piece. Art is hard, and quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever attempted in life. I feel I am only just beginning and all I have managed thus far is just a foundation of what I want to achieve and accomplish in the years that remain. I never think about what I have done but more about what I need to do, so in that arena I never live in the past but always intently focused on the future.  I still have so much to learn and have a great desire to improve and discover new things. I feel a great deal more accomplishment in being a good person and a good husband; I am proud of growing vegetables and making a wonderful little world for my dog.”


What present themes can make you really happy?

“I am an optimist and I love seeing people stand up for something they believe, seeing them stand together for a just cause. The recent Women's March all over the world filled me with pride for our species. I love seeing people holding hands and standing together; not against something, but for something.  I have a great belief in a very bright future for our world but it has to come from hard work, looking at hard realities, and finding common goals. We have to look beyond fear and anger and embrace empathy and understanding. As a species we have yet to understand ourselves and our incredible potential. In many ways we are still pulling ourselves out of a primitive mud but I see nothing but hope in front us that will make sense of the cruelty and immense difficulty of our past.”


What can really upset you?

“I cannot stand insensitive cruelty in any form. Injustice to children and animals and the environment, cruelty to those things that are unable to protect themselves.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“I am pleased that I work with a wonderful group of people along with my wife Jane Nagai and my manager Belinda Chun of Gallery House. I feel my work is actually the effort of a team of good people that help and support me in completing something that is beyond the efforts of an individual. I want to explore figurative work in many different directions and also explore many forms of non-figurative work. I am excited about 3D prototyping, virtual reality, and also incorporating traditional craft in my work in the forms of fabrics and carved wood. 

I have only ever had one theme and there is still a lot to do with that. Each day I try to make a bright future from the raw materials of the past and that takes self examination, the examination of the world around us and the world within. Because in that, I am relentless.”

What is your ultimate goal in life?

“I know that my past could have defined me in a direction that could have made me a very unpleasant person, dangerous and vile. I want to die knowing I lived a good life and did my best.”

What advice can you give us through your work?

“Art changes the viewer and the viewer changes the art. My work at its core is about perception in art and in life. My perception of my reality has changed me and I feel that art can change the perception of those that view it. My efforts are central to the idea that we are not static in the place we find ourselves in! But that place can be changed in both good and bad ways by our creative choice. That we are not entirely who we think we are! That male and female might just be an illusion as it's just a product of linear thinking in one direction, the same way race is an illusion and religious and political belief is an illusion. I want to question rigid belief structures and place a more important significance on ‘wonder’, the idea that belief and disbelief take a back seat to wondrous possibility. I want to open a single set of eyes to the idea that wonder is the source of creativity and of growth, unity of all life, and that there may be more answers to a single question than all the questions that have ever been asked. I don't necessarily ‘believe’ this, I just wonder about it.”


In Amsterdam Caesars work can be viewed and bought regularly at KochxBos Gallery | Eerste Anjeliersdwarsstraat 36 | Tel +31(0)20 6814567 | www.kochxbos.nl. The official Ray Caesar website: www.raycaesar.com.

Boris Indrikov


Boris Indrikov was born in Leningrad in 1967, and is currently living and working in Moscow. From 1991 to 1997 he designed and illustrated books and did so for the popular science magazine 'Chemistry and Life'.  Later, he joined the Creative Union of Artists of Russia and the UNESCO International Federation of Artists and has since exhibited works at a number of shows in Russia and abroad (Art-Manezh 2002, 2003, 2012, ART-Salon 2007, Art Fair Tokyo 2013, Venezia 2014 and others).  Currently, his mediums are painting, graphic design and small-form plastic, mainly with fantastic realism. You can find his work in the D`VASKO gallery (Russia), HORIZON gallery (Netherlands), and private collections in Russia, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and the United States.

You grew up in a big city, Leningrad, and live in a big city now, Moscow. Do you need to escape from the concrete jungle to find your organic element?

I do, and I have made this escape already. In the summertime I live and work in the countryside (“dacha” in Russian), not far from Moscow City. Here I am close to nature. The air is clean and it's peaceful - it inspires a creative atmosphere.

Besides your previous experiences as a book designer and illustrator, you now make paintings, graphics and sculptures; can you tell us a bit about your small plastic art project?

A few years ago it was hard to sell paintings, and I decided to try my hand in sculpturing. I was interested to realize my ideas in something volumetric, thus the MASK project was born. Masks, made of white gesso, were painted with acrylic paints using hair-pencil brushes with spontaneously created ornaments.

You bring mixed influences from various continents, periods of history, cultures and art style and transform these into your recognizable own original style. Is there any country that inspires you the most?

I'm inspired more by trends in art than by a specific country, such as Japanese theater woodcut, which is called ukiyo-e.  Also, the Egyptian bas-reliefs and sculptures, modernist art style and Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, surrealism - from Bosch to Salvador Dali, Australian Aborigines Art, and more!

You use monochrome natural and earthy colors with an old world energy and you have an unbelievable feeling of rhythm, lines and patterns. What state of mind are you in when you start painting?

My painting process goes something like this:  first I create a random texture on canvas using special technology.  After this I read the canvas, looking for shapes and/or patterns. So these images will be the foundation of the future painting.
This is similar to the meditation process. But instead of sitting with my eyes closed in the lotus position, anywhere on the top of the mountain, I am in front of the canvas. I scan the surface of the material for natural changes and random patterns that occur on the canvas surface and transform them into the harmony of lines. The outcome of this is always unknown, an adventure that's intriguing and exciting!

In this edition we show quite a few interesting places near the water, which suits your fascinating tribal and elegant fishes. Do you have any special attraction to the ocean or water in general?

My childhood city, Leningrad, is a city made up of 101 islands so it literally is on water, and nicknamed 'Northern Venice'.  Standing by the riverside waters and watching its flow is always a mesmerizing experience that sooths my soul.
On your website you can follow the process of your paintings, layer by layer, which must take ages. How long more or less do you usually work on a painting?

Usually I do three works per year. I understand that such a pace of work is not compatible with the speed and fluidity of the modern world. But there is nothing to do... In the words of Antoni Gaudí: ‘My client is in no hurry. God has all the time in the world’. I agree with him.

Your work can be seen in different countries all over the world, also in The Netherlands. Have you ever visited Amsterdam?

I still have not been in Amsterdam. I hope to visit this beautiful city soon.
And since I'm a big fan of bikes, I will be very pleased to be there.

Colette Calascione


'I guess you could say I am sort of a surrealist'

Colette Calascione was born in San Francisco in 1971 and still lives and works in the area.
This beautiful painter makes stunning portraits of classical women, often nude, in their own imaginary environment. Colette's elegant and provocative sense of humor combined with an interesting imagination makes it erotic in her very own way.


Inspired by books and images of Victorian ephemera Colette creates a world of her own, in which classical portraits come to live in a mystic and surrealistic way. The women in front of the so-called 'camera' are sexy, stylish and also provocative. They definitely know how to seduce you! She paints women in all kinds of poses and guises, surrounded by fantasy and imaginary elements. By combining their elegance with sensuality, oddity and elements drawn from imagination, she brings them a littlebit closer to the present. Or perhaps better said to a place that is timeless. What makes her pictures bedazzle you is, the perfect mixture of colours, which draws you to the painting as a magnet. Because she is so particular. It has to be perfect. The color has to set a mood, and be just right. With her paintings Colette doesn't want to make any 'under the cover' kind of statement. She expects viewers to interpret her paintings in their own way. Colette's work also appears this year in a Dutch children's book titled "Mijn Moeder is een Paradijs-Vogel" by author Harm de Jonge.

Amsterdam Enjoy is very delighted to show another great artist! Enjoy her amazing and electrifying art work in your own very way.

There's no doubt about it that your paintings are inspired by the Victorian era. Where does this fascination come from?

This is a question I often ask myself, although I think I am just as inspired by art from any era worldwide, but I get sucked in by art mostly made before the 1950s. This is not to say I don't like modern art, I love many ranges of modern and contemporary very much. Why I am drawn to the aesthetic of antiquity is still a mystery to me, and so I explore it.


Also the mermaid figure is a recurring theme? Is there any subconscious explanation?

The ocean is the womb of the planet, without water all would be a barren desert. One way I  think of the mermaid is as a symbol of a reminder of where we come from. Or maybe Freud would say I have penis envy. If I dream I am a hermaphrodite it thinks it's totally great! Self-sufficient, transcending sex, maybe that's why sirens are perceived as scary!

colette_calascione_dream_of_the_hungry_ghostHow do you start a painting? Is this by inventing a theme or does it come to you naturally?

Aside from the act of drafting an image, my biggest hobby is looking at images. I've learned as much from studying images as i have from the written word. I don't think of myself as being very inventive. If I see an image that talks to me, I feel an urge to have a conversation with it, but since it is a one way conversation I am projecting onto it my own thoughts and symbols. I sort of think of my images as painted collages.

What's your favorite painting?

There is no way I have a favorite painting, if i do have one today it will be different tomorrow! But the first painting to really grab my guts was a melancholy painting I would visit at a museum in San Francisco when I was a child titled "The Broken Pitcher" by William Bouguereau.

Why the two headed woman? What's the meaning behind this, is this also subconscious?

I think the first two headed lady I painted back in 1995 was ironically inspired by an illustration of Marie Antoinette, who as we know got her head chopped off. I started the image just for fun but it spoke of something more. For example, there is the conscious and the subconscious, the "I" who is awake and the "I" who is asleep and dreaming in another world, but we are the same, like Siamese twins.

colette__funny_picdump_312_51In all the paintings we see birds, cats, butterflies and other animals. What is the reason for this? Are these animals used symbolically?

Animals, sea life, insects, plants, flowers, are part of the ecosystem we humans depend on to keep the earth and waters alive and healthy. In this day and age of human overpopulation it appeals to me to remind people that the natural wildlife need our love and nurturing very desperately, and they don't get the credit or rights they deserve at all!  If I wasn't a weirdo recluse painter I'd be out fighting for them for sure. Plus the symbology of animals in all cultures is a fantastic mythology!

How do you start a painting? What is the working process? Do you use special techniques, maybe even from old times?

Usually I have a sketch drawing, then I lay a cartoon of the drawing to the paint surface. I find the "verdaccio"  technique for starting a painting works best for me. This is an old world layering technique in which one starts a painting on an earthy red surface. I do about 8 layers of glazed paint depending.

What's your next challenge or project?

I've never been one to have a theme in a body of work. In a way I'm all over the place with ideas, but the recurring theme I see is the self sufficient woman nurturing, or being nourished, relishing, and communing with nature. Color is always a challenge, I want to explore dark antique earthy understated colors.

Can we expect a future exhibit in the Netherlands?

If my paintings ever get to go to Amsterdam I hope I can go there with them! Beautiful city!

Erwin Olaf
‘Ik haat realiteit’
De perfect gestileerde werkelijkheid van Erwin Olaf

Dat vroeger alles anders was, is een feit. Dat ouder worden meer rust en introspectie brengt vaak ook. Kijk maar naar het werk van Erwin Olaf. Waar hij in zijn beginjaren nog naakte bejaarden, mannen met erecties, kleine mensen, hysterische clowns en dikke, naakte vrouwen in bondagekleding toonde, is hij tegenwoordig naar eigen zeggen ‘in een andere levensfase beland.’ Minder choquerend, en meer sober en ingetogen. ‘Het is niet zo dat ik alleen maar zit te huilen. Maar mijn wereldbeeld is wel somberder geworden en ik ben minder extravert.’

erwin_olaf_inter_c385ee8d533cb23f690c29d9263f223cDe erkenning die het hem heeft opgeleverd toont direct zijn diversiteit. Zo mocht hij aanschuiven bij Zomergasten en maakte Michiel van Erp een documentaire over hem. Zijn Milkshake festival kreeg een Gouden Kabouter voor het beste feest en hij ontwierp de nieuwe euromunt met het portret van Willem-Alexander. Daarnaast won hij prestigieuze kunstprijzen als de Amerikaanse Lucie Award en de Johannes Vermeerprijs van de Nederlandse staat. Kunsttijdschrift Kunstbeeld noemt hem 'de meest zichtbare Nederlandse kunstenaar in het buitenland.'

En laat deze internationaal befaamde kunstenaar nu ook nog eens een atelier hebben midden in de Rivierenbuurt! Er is dan ook niemand anders wiens werk en woorden we liever in deze editie tonen dan Erwin Olaf...

De kunst van het leven

Erwin Olaf Springveld wordt in 1959 geboren in Hilversum, maar verhuisd al op jonge leeftijd naar Hoevelaken. ‘Naar een nieuw, van gele bakstenen gebouwd huis. Daar ben ik volwassen geworden, op de middelbare school.’ Verlegen en zich al vroeg bewust van zijn homoseksualiteit wordt hij in eerste instantie enorm gepest, ‘daar heb ik helemáál geen goede herinneringen aan’. Na een betere selectie van vrienden, kleding en het mooiste meisje van de school als beste vriendin groeit zijn populariteit gestaag.

Na  de havo kiest hij ervoor te studeren aan de School voor Journalistiek in Utrecht. ‘Vooral omdat ik dan op kamer moest, dat wilde ik zo graag!’ Echt gemotiveerd was ik niet: ‘ik wilde eigenlijk acteur worden – en ik heb alleen maar gefeest.’ Al tijdens zijn studie gaat hij in Amsterdam wonen, en dat blijft eigenlijk zo. Nadat hij afstudeert in de geschreven journalistiek gaat hij ook in die stad werken. Wel met beeld in plaats van woorden, want hij richt zich in eerste instantie op documentaire fotografie. Al snel verkiest hij de geënsceneerde fotografie, omdat hij daar naar eigen zeggen het beeld volledig naar zijn hand kan zetten. 


‘Ik denk niet dat ik de foto’s uit de eerste 25 jaar van mijn carrière had kunnen maken zonder de vrije Nederlandse mentaliteit. Ik ging toen veel uit, in de RoXY en de iT. Dat heeft me heel erg beïnvloed, want ik was best een burgertrut, vers uit Hoevelaken.’ Zijn werk uit die tijd lijkt dan ook voornamelijk gericht op choqueren, transgressie, en erotiek op het pornografische af. Toch zegt hij zelf dat zijn werk niet als provocerend was bedoeld, maar eerder ging om zijn persoonlijke viering van de seksuele vrijheid van de jaren zeventig. Ook vertelt hij hoe hij in retrospectief zijn eerste fotoseries als dagboek ziet, ‘met die dikke vrouwen en die dwergen. Dat is de weerslag van mijn worsteling met mijn seksualiteit. Ik schaamde me. Ik vond mezelf lelijk.’

erwin_olaf_4f30ea390e483e20b8028a16c3072377Alternatieve perfectie

Tegelijkertijd noemt Erwin Olaf zichzelf een estheet, die voor fotografie heeft gekozen om het mooie en geperfectioneerde te kunnen laten zien. Soms aan de hand van ronduit onconventionele objecten. Zo vindt hij de volle lichamen van vrouwen, bijvoorbeeld, veel interessanter om te fotograferen dan de zogenaamd perfect slanke. ‘De werking van licht en schaduw, de rondingen, de plooien, de rimpels, de aders.’ Hij mag dan ook journalistiek gestudeerd hebben, maar de camera gebruikt hij vaak niet om de realiteit vast te leggen maar juist om deze naar zijn hand te zetten. ‘Ik hou niet van de realiteit, ik háát het – op een bepaalde manier,’ zegt hij daar zelf over. ‘Als ik de realiteit wil zien, steek ik mijn kop wel buiten de deur.’ 

Door de jaren heen worden foto’s van zijn hand steeds ingetogener. Het ontlokt hem zelfs de uitspraak ‘Alleen een mens vind ik tegenwoordig al prachtig.’ Deze nieuwe tendens komt sterk naar voren in een fotoserie die hij in 2013 maakt in opdracht van het Stadsarchief. Zonder enig decor of opsmuk maakt hij de sobere portrettenreeks ‘Joods’. ‘Mijn studio bevindt zich in de Amsterdamse Rivierenbuurt. Voorheen was dit een buurt met een grote joodse gemeenschap, maar de afgelopen jaren is dat minder geworden, of in elk geval minder zichtbaar. Dat is iets wat me raakt en me verdriet doet. Het idee ontstond om de groep te fotograferen voordat ze helemaal onzichtbaar zou zijn.’ 

Hoewel de behoefte om fantasiewerelden te scheppen minder wordt, blijft Erwin Olaf alternatieve werkelijkheden scheppen vol gestileerde perfectie. Met serieuze erkenning als resultaat. Waar zijn werk eerst vaak te choquerend werd bevonden om voor kunst door te gaan, omarmt de kunstwereld hem nu officieel. Belangrijke internationale kunsthandelaren en musea willen zijn werk vertonen, en het publiek staat massaal in de rij voor zijn exposities. De jury van de Vermeerprijs prijst zijn ‘vermogen om zowel in zijn vrije als commerciële werk telkens nieuwe wegen in te slaan,’ en in 2014 wordt hij verkozen tot kunstenaar van het jaar. 



Eclectische collectie

Met multimedia installaties in vele musea en een mogelijke speelfilm in het vooruitzicht, lijkt de angst van Erwin Olaf om zichzelf te herhalen nu net zo ongegrond als altijd. Zo ook in zijn nieuwe functie als vormgever van de mode expositie Catwalk in het Rijksmuseum. Eclectisch als altijd zegt hij hierover: 'Al enige jaren ben ik aan het onderzoeken hoe mijn eigen fotografische werk op een andere manier kan presenteren en verbinden met installaties, geluid en (korte) films. Zo kan iedere bezoeker worden meegevoerd in een wereld, waarin de eigen fantasie wordt gestimuleerd en uitgedaagd, zodat uiteindelijk een prikkelende dialoog ontstaat tussen het getoonde werk en de kijker.' Iets om naar uit te kijken dus!

De tentoonstelling ‘Catwalk. Vier eeuwen mode in Holland’ is van 20 februari t/m 15 mei 2016 te zien in het Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Voor meer informatie ga je naar: www.erwinolaf.com

Mateo Dineen


Mateo Dineen, a homegrown artist from San Francisco, nowadays based in Berlin, paints with panache. His little monsters come to life and you almost want to meet them. Mateo creates his artwork by starting of with a sketch on paper inspired by wandering around on flea markets and finding unusuals objects that he integrates in his work. Together with his co-creator Johan Potma (a Dutch artist also based in Berlin) they started off Zozoville Gallery where they exhibit all their cute personified monsters. 

The art of Mateo Dineen is comical and has some kind of absurdism in itself, but when you really focus on the art  you can almost identify yourself with it, as if they are reproductions of real life. The art makes you laugh, evokes emotions and you feel the energy. Also it invites to investigate the fantasy world of Mateo Dineen. Is it fantasy or are these cute creatures actual illustrations of modern society or even the thoughts and inside world of Mateo Dineen. Time for an in depth interview with inspiring artist Mateo Dineen.

mateo_241_0How do you spend your working day? As I read you are not a morning type of person?

No, i am not a morning person. But since my son was born 2 years ago, I’ve been forced to rise with the sun/son. Waking earlier is still kinda tough at times, but I’m getting used to it. 

My working day looks different almost every day. At the moment I’m about to open up a new gallery in Berlin, so I’ve been spending almost all of my free time there doing renovations and planning the grand opening party. After that gallery is up and running, I hope to get back to painting some monsters.

How come you started painting monsters? Is this to escape reality or an undefined urge to reproduce day to day life form a different angle easier for your audience to relate to?

As a kid I recall thinking it was more fun to draw monsters because I didn’t have anyone telling me “You drew it wrong”. If it was 100% my own creation, then it was 100% right. It was liberating.

Then as I got older and honed my abilities, I decided to explore the world of my monsters through the perspective of my adult life. This naturally led to monsters dealing with the mundane bits of life that we all deal with. At first I was worried that using monsters in my art might alienate people from my work, but thankfully it seems there are a number of weird folks out there who, like me, appreciate a monster or two in their artwork. 

What's your message underneath? If there is any ...

I don’t have a manifesto or an over-arching message that I’m trying to spread. But if there was I suppose it would be something like, “Don’t loose that sense of wonder”. The world is full of mysteries and weirdness, there’s no excuse to be jaded about life. 

Can you describe how your paintings come to life? 

Most of my paintings start out as a sketch. When I draw, I often try to let go of conscious control of where the line is going. I try to turn off judgement and I’ll just let it flow and watch what comes. Some of my best ideas happen this way. After doing a bit of that, I’ll start controlling the line a bit more and explore various themes that are on my mind. I’ll take some of the shapes that I discovered during the free-flowing sketching and try to incorporate it into something that makes a bit more sense. 

I have pages and pages of sketches done this way. I review my sketches, new and old, and look for images and characters that are compelling. Often I’ll find wonderful little sketches that I barely remember making, and probably didn’t even think too much about at the time. Looking at older pages of sketches is kinda like seeing the drawings for the first time, and that way I’m better able to assess if they “work” or not. 

As I read, you love flea markets and are a fan of antiques. How does this define your work and how do you integrate these objects in your work?

Yes, I’m a big fan of searching through flea markets in search of interesting old objects to put in my gallery, and of course I’m always on the lookout for items that could serve as the surface for my next painting. Box lids, cabinet doors, and vintage frames are all things that can become the basis for a new painting.


How is your painting process?

Scattered in various piles throughout my studio I have collections of old boxes, doors, and other wood bits. These items bring with them their own history and offer an interesting starting point for a painting. Sometimes an idea from a painting will be inspired by an object that I paint on. Usually I already have a sketch that I want to develop into a painting. Then I’ll consider all of my wood bits and try to find a surface that fits the sketch I want to paint. 

Next I try to imagine the colors and atmosphere that I want to give the piece. The wood itself will usually seem to suggest a direction, since I always try to have the feeling of the final painting fit nicely on the wood it’s painted on. I also have a large

collection of old papers that I use as collage in my work. I paste the collage onto the wood and build up layers of texture. Then I draw the chosen sketch onto the wood and start bringing it to life.

Who was and/or is your biggest inspiration? Has this changed over the years and evolved your work?

As a kid I was greatly influenced by the children’s book illustrator Shel Silverstein. I always loved his poems and drawings. During art school I remember first seeing the work of Joe Sorren and being very impressed. There are countless other artists, visual and otherwise, who continue to inspire. Inspiration is all around. It’s just a question of tapping into that sense of wonder.

mateo-potma3You work together with Dutch artist John Potma and together have Zozoville Gallery. As you have the same art style, is it not difficult to work together? And how did you come up with the name Zozoville?

Johan and I are constantly amazed by the parallels that we see in our lives. Our artwork was similar even before we met, and it evolved to be even more similar after sharing a studio and gallery. We often arrive at the same conclusions and ideas, even when we haven’t been discussing these things directly. It’s sometimes even a bit spooky. We joke sometimes that we’re brothers from another mother. And like brothers we sometimes don’t see eye to eye. But we have a strong friendship and a healthy business partnership, and we’ve always been able to work through our differences. 

The name Zozoville was born one afternoon in a cafe. We took turns pulling random words out of a paper bag and slammed them together to make new words. Zozoville was one of those words and I think it fits our world very well. It has come to represent the village where our monsters live. 

How do you see the future? Do you have any specific goals or any kind of vision/mission with your artwork?

I rely mainly on tarot cards and fortune cookies in order to have a clear sense of what will happen in the future. I’m drawn to the incredible accuracy of these methods. Otherwise I take each day as it comes.

Why did you chose Berlin as your home base for creating your art. Is is easier to become an artist there or maybe more inspiring?

Berlin sort of chose me. I met a German girl in San Francisco, fell in love, and followed her to the other side of the world. She wanted to live in Berlin and I said, ok. As luck would have it, I did indeed find it to be a great place to make art. The cost of living was cheap, which is crucial for artists trying to get a start. The people in the city were inspiring, and also quite receptive to my art. So after a fairly short time I felt very much at home here. 

In closing, ever planning on starting an exhibition or even gallery in Amsterdam?

No plans to start a gallery there, but who knows! But I’m always open to having an exhibition in the great city of Amsterdam!

Naoto Hattori


In this edition of Amsterdam Enjoy we have the privilege of showing you the work of the art virtuoso Naoto Hattori. In the year 2000 he received a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has received Awards from the Society of Illustrators, the New York Directors Club, Communication Arts and also he has won numerous awards from many art competitions and has been published in many art magazines and now Amsterdam Enjoy is the lucky one.

Naoto Hattori virtually works all the time, in general, he painted over 100 paintings a year, and usually between 12 hours and 15 hours a day. Fantastic creatures, animals, and a world observed by thousands of eyes suggest a reality impossible to define, subject to a continuous stream of metamorphoses whose look is both writer and witness. He has an extreme eye for detail and the thing what is really extraordinary about his work, are the heads and faces he creates. They combine elements of Odilon Redon, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, and Day of the Dead iconography.

This busy bee is a creative melting pot who uses all kinds of technics, from painting with acrylic on board and wood, or on vintage paper till sculpting and everything in between. He keeps his fans and admirers posted by posting almost daily on his up-to-date blog about the progress of his current projects.

naoto_king_eyecat__29630_1410134346_700_700You are originally from Japan, which is the home of Manga. Did you find this to be a big influence when you were growing up?

Yes, when i was a kid i grew up with Japanese Manga and Anime culture like Kinnikuman and Dragon Ball. These cartoons inspired me draw many characters similar to these.

After graduating at the school of Visual Arts in New York, you were planning to stay there for a few more years to discover life. Do you still live in this city? And are you ever thinking of going back to Japan?

While i was in school i started showing my work at galleries and gave interviews for art magazines in NYC. I wanted to become an independent artist after graduation, so the step to apply for a green card was the obvious one to make. It is a complicated process which involves lawyers, collecting recommendation letters from museum directors, gallery owners, art professors and a lot of effort and money. After 2 years i got approved, but at the same time I received a call from my family in Japan and heard my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I canceled the green card and moved back to Japan right away. I took a sabbatical for one year to spend time with my father and family. I miss New York, but i abandoned permanent residency in the US so i have been in Japan ever since.

Do you sketch a lot and use those sketches to guide you through your painting process?

I make super rough sketches, i only make one when i see a good image in my head. I prefer to build up my image in my head, and when I get satisfied with the image then I start painting.

Your work really comes to life, especially those involving female faces. It is so perfectly crafted that it almost seems digital. What is your real technique?

I like to thin acrylic paint and add many layers to create depth. It's similar to the egg tempera technique. I also use a masking technique when i need solid edges and i use an airbrush technique to soften edges.

It's pretty clear you paint extremely beautiful and mind blowing detailed eyes, you always had a passion for drawing eyes?

Yes, i'm obsessed to paint eyes. I always see different type of eyes in my head and i feel like i need to paint them every time when i see them in my head. It's like meditation to me to paint those eyes.

Your beyond imaginary amazingly funny, cute and trippy scary fantasy has a unique style and often your animals seem to be a mix of different kinds, what is the hidden meaning behind this?

I paint since i was a child and i cherish my creative thoughts from my childhood. I always enjoy myself when i'm at the easel, feeling free to paint what i really want to paint at the moment. My vision tends to be very trippy and weird but i love it.


You studied so many different technics, read and studied loads of diverse drawing, anatomy and color books, How has your work developed over the years? Do you feel like your style changed a lot since you started?

I need to keep up and brush my techniques and skills to achieve and widen my imaginary vision in my head. It's like a computer, i need to install many software and updates.

You participate in a lot of group exhibitions and you are producing a lot of material. I can't help but wonder, can we expect a solo show in these upcoming months?

I have a solo exhibition at Copro Gallery Santa Monica in July 2015 and at Last Rites Gallery NYC in June 2016.


What is the best compliment you ever received about your work?

I like it when people see my work and say "What the fuck!?".

Are you gifted with any talent for other art forms? For example; dancing, singing, photography....

I'm good at drinking alcohol.

Pop surrealism is a combination of surrealism and pop art and belongs to the so called lowbrow art movement, which is not always as easily accepted in the greater art world. Today, however, it seems to be getting bigger and more accepted. When did you decide that this is your genre?

There was no word "Pop surrealism" when I started my career. The title they used at that time was "Lowbrow", Outsider Art or "Underground Art". I'm not sure what people would call this scene in the future, but i'm happy to be in it.

Which pop surrealist artist inspires you and forms an example to you?

There are so many great artists in the scene. I love that all artists are friendly and stimulate each other with their work.

Where do you get your inspiration in general?

Painting became more like a meditation to me. I inhale my visionary thoughts and take it in whatever it is, exhale it to create artwork. It's very simple. I feel like i used to think too many things I don't need to.

You are known for being a workaholic, do you ever take a break and go away for a vacation? If yes where do you go? What is your favorite place to go to in the world?

I like the beach, so I usually go to a resort island outside of Japan escaping from the concrete jungle.

You have a passion for board sports, and even released a series of snow- and skateboards with your artwork on it besides your own modify watches. Do you still practice these sports yourself?

I was really into skateboard and surfing when I was young. I continued to skateboard and snowboarding when i was in New York. Now i only play basketball at the weekend and i like to drink with many people after that. I used to be into DJ-ing and partying a lot.

And... have you ever been to Amsterdam, or will be in the future?

I never been to Amsterdam but i would love to go there when i get the chance! My friends have been to Amsterdam for New Year.

Interview by Melissa Theba




Creatively inspired in the fur studio of her parents where she spent tons of times drawing, it was clear animals and nature were the most interesting study objects for Ciou. Not that strange for a diehard fan of Bambi, Pinocchio and other Disney figures, and fascinated by exotic Japanese animations when growing up in Toulouse, France.

Besides taking technical drawing lessons for years, Ciou started to make dolls influenced by manga. Soon her own mascot was born and became a hit.... Still now, surrounded by her master gathering of collected vintage toys, this has an important influence on her art. It inspires her characters. After her totally tattooed first bear, other cute and monstrous creatures followed - filling up her passion collection. It didn't take long before the artistic scene discovered her talent and invited her to exhibit at some of the world's greatest galleries, in Tokyo and beyond.

Ciou20evil20beautyHungry for more artistic studies, she choose philosophy over practical drawing and after three years at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Toulouse, her octopus's tentacles went to the different directions of pop culture eventually leading to the local underground scene. Clearly influenced by the graffiti of New York, Ciou learned how to color the walls in the streets with pencils. After that, it went fast and with her first international tour through Europe and America she definitely established herself in the Lowbrow art scene. This specific art movement, influenced by cartoon classics from the golden age of animation, satirical magazines, underground comics and punk scene among others, eventually led to Pop Surrealism, made known through masters such as Mark Ryden.

For Ciou, the first stage of a painting is the pasting of vintage paper cuttings on panel. For this, symbolism is essential and a paper selection of old anatomy, medicine, magic or astronomy books or natural history dictionaries preferred. She then sketches the main lines with pencil, and paints the tinted areas with acrylics.

Taking interest in the art of old masters, in her work we can find mixed influences. There are the blue, fully colored tattooed bodies that seem to lead back to the Dutch golden age, with its style of 'Delfts Blauw'. The many intensively detailed skulls that are used from the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Death also play an important role in her art, like the artist of the Edo period.

Besides the creepy darkness and organic horror, there is also the fascinating circus parade, with uplifting inspiring creatures and interesting freaks such as wood nymphs, mermaids, priestesses, jungle shamans and feminine types inspired by mythology. Like so often with symbolism, put together they do not necessarily point out a message, but let you drift away on everything createsd and perceived.

The longer and more you look, the more you discover new adventures or even more defined details. Ciou's microcosm is full of miniature work and precision, fully taking the idea of craftsmanship to the next level.

ciou-brain-beach-party-lrCiou came to Amsterdam at the end of January this year to create a huge live painting at the Kochxbos Gallery with her talented partner Sebastian Malojo. The Kochxbos Gallery, well known for their passion of Contemporary art and Pop Surrealism, exposed her work before, they even published a fantastic book about Ciou, which explains a lot about her back ground, passion, influences, development and shows the big amount of different paintings and drawings in black and white and fully psychedelic colors and combinations in between. A full day constantly painting is like meditation to her, it needs to be perfect. She likes to take her audience to supernatural landscapes, where magic, symbols and spiritualism take them on a universal journey that can connect with your own reality. Normally it can take one or two months to create a painting; this wall painting had to be finished in 5 days, knowing that with the amount of details she puts into her work she will need every minute and it's precious 60 seconds, in order to finish this masterpiece before her Grand Opening...

Ciou could be called the 'Queen of the Rotring', with literally millions of details in her drawings . It's a weird world of joyfull nightmares and big eyed tattoo girls dancing with dandy bats and dogs with 3 eyes. Even the flowers and balls of ice cream have faces, hearts are turned into devouring spiders. It's a world of contrasts: 'Necro-Kawai' she calls her style. 'Kawai' meaning cute in Japanese.

Being interested in Toy World since her childhood and having her house surrounded by toys from all over the world it has always been a dream to release her own toys. Besides her impressive new paintings, she is happy to show the people her new collection here in Amsterdam, the city she loves so much. She appreciates the tolerance, enjoys the green and feels free.

Amsterdam Enjoy-5 jaar


Tashi Norbu was born in Bhutan in 1974. With a genuine painting talent, he works non-stop to preserve his imprint of the Tibetan culture, so dear to him, in contemporary art. Educated as a traditional Tibetan painter, Tashi ended up receiving teachings in the monastery of H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. He wished though to decipher Western modern art as well, so went to study Visual Arts at Sint Lucas Academie voor beeldende kunst in Ghent.

His art still shows the fundamentals of his background - Tibet and Buddhism - combined with strong influences from western art forms, western ideas and modern time's icons. Through his work, the energy of abstract expressionism is brought in harmony with the meditative and reflective spirit of Buddhism. His icons are modern icons in combination with traditional icons. Because he lives in Holland now, many Dutch icons are used in his paintings as well.

Many of his paintings and collages can be read as comic strips. The longer you look, the more you will discover: wooden shoes, tulips, windmills, traditional costumes, dolls, 'Dear Kitty', cars, mobile phones, airplanes and laptops. Everything is possible in the works of Tashi Norbu, as our cover clearly shows! And not only the cover, for Tashi's work has been shown in nearly all past editions of Amsterdam Enjoy. However, we have never asked this great artist a question. Up until now, that is.


You make a lot of traditional paintings and mix it with contemporary art and your way of participating with Tibet , what is important for you in these paintings?

The importance in my painting is that I am mixing the two different culture’s in my art works and it also gives me satisfaction in my creation; being creative always inspire’s myself to life, if I am inspired I guess people who are viewing my paintings get inspired as well, I hope so, it happens when I am making the painting very beautiful for myself and being honest about it.  Then the magic happens. That is what I understand about my art works.

Of course in Buddhism we believe that it is not the materialistic things out there or any physics in existence that do not have the healing power but the connection to it (teacher, your own philosophy or anything you call it). If you are truly feeling from your  heart the completing of the beautiful circuit happens to be the healing process, hence you can say it is healing that way. We agree. I believe such is the case that my spiritual art works heals sudden way, although I am very much a contemporary artist. So is the world of contemporary art, the purest form of it is being so honest about what your work brings out the message of the most recent feelings of the artists and its environment. I try to bring the energy of abstract expressionism in harmony with the meditative and reflective spirit of Buddhism. 

Some of your new paintings can been seen in “De Nieuwe Yoga School” and we are delighted to show some of  them in this edition, can you explain a bit more about some of this paintings that we have chosen? 


In this 2-dimensional painting a variety of techniques are used. In the background you find the Tibetan mantra Ohm Mani Padme . Thick paper cuts where used in the shape of tulips and hearts, representing life and joyfulness.

 “In this painting I express my gratitude for  both the cultures that I could learn from, the eastern wisdom and western knowledge. Also, in the west it is very common to give flowers. In Tibet this could be considered as taking life. As a child I was learned very strictly to let the flower grow in its natural habitat. With this painting I hoped to find a middle way approach”. 

The Mandala 

In the Tibetan worldview ,the artistic and symbolic representation of the cosmos is fundamental and this view is presented in a mandala. Although mandalas in fact represent a three dimensional structure,  a mandala can also be painted two dimensionally on e.g. cloth or in sand for temporary sand mandalas which are used for certain rituals. Mandalas can also be generated mentally or stimulated by  using certain positions of the hand ( so called mudras).


Kamiel Proost

kamiel proost james unnamed

kamiel music boy-amsenjoy14


My input was minimized to pressing the keyboard keys, and the awareness of infinity and abundance of the info-energyArt-project Luminokaya lab. appeared as a result of a huge amount of data coming from the great field of energy and information in forms of light and energy waves, visions, images, dream-state objects, trans personal visions and visions beyond personality, and also symbols, signs and channeling. The vast amount of information offered by The Space didn’t allow to ignore this exciting and rich experience. 

continuum can let me speak only about being a channel, or a medium. So, there can’t be any question of authorship. 

Let this art-information be a little contribution to the process of uniting people of light and realizing our
light-carrying potential! 

Joseph Klibansky – New Media Artist


Klibansky’s main points of departure are architecture and the city, particularly the accelerated, compressed and densely populated urban environments of the 21st Century that he smoothly grades into what seems to be a possible glimpse of the future.

The often-perceived soothing prettiness of Klibansky’s work can be experienced as positively numbing the senses of the viewer.  An image that in first instance looks harmless and merely pretty is actually a smoke curtain for the real matter at hand, an open mind can attempt to peel back the multi coloured layers of eye candy and distil the core of the message.

Klibansky__On-the-Moveklibanski_River-Of-Hope---180-x-96-cmJoseph Klibansky makes large-scale, idealistic digital paintings that are built up through hundreds of layers of photography enriched with acrylic paint on archival cotton paper overlaid with a liquid resin. His work conveys a layering and compression of time, space and place creating new narratives by creating dreamy images of cities, combining past and future, with a dramatic dynamism that for the artist becomes a way of signifying his perception of the rapidly changing digital culture as well as suggesting an unravelling of his personal biography.

Joseph Klibansky (b. 1984 in Cape Town) grew up in a creative and internationally-oriented environment. In his teens, he became fascinated by the possibilities offered by computer art and digital imagery. He started to merge hundreds of images into powerful compositions, enhanced by computer artwork and often combined with a variety of painting techniques.

The young artist soon developed his own distinctive style, which fascinates art galleries and collectors the world over: innovative creations in bright colours. “When you see my work, you immediately get a positive vibe”, he says. Joseph Klibansky graduated at a Dutch business school, but soon decided to follow his great passion: art. He is one of the youngest professional artists in the contemporary international art scene. Inspired by such topics as city’s, fashion, design, modern architecture, and music, he is constantly bubbling with ideas for new works of art. Or, as he puts it: “It is my life. When I am not sleeping, I am thinking about art!”


Jimmy Nelson


Text: Larissa Quaak

What a difference a pee makes

Jimmy Nelson Photographs Tribes Before They Pass Away

Sure, Amsterdam has some colorful characters and unique fashion and cultural diversity. But still. When looking around you mostly see a rather homogeneous mass of jeans and t-shirts and smartphones. The pictures  British-born photographer Jimmy Nelson shot for his book 'Before they Pass Away' show a very different, wild world. From the frigid mountains of Mongolia to the endless sandy deserts of Namibia, from the freezing Arctic Circle to the tropical South Pacific, he has  spend three years capturing the lives of indigenous people worldwide. Hoping to immortalize these relatively untouched tribes before it is too late. Amsterdam Enjoy gladly took the opportunity to interview Mr Nelson, and get to know more about his ambitious project.

This interview is for 'Amsterdam Enjoy', a magazine which subtitle loosely translates as 'for the curious mind.' It seems your curious mind has not only made you settle down in our beautiful city, but it has also brought you to some of the most remote places on Earth. Has your mind always been so curious about the world we live in and the people that inhabit it?


For as long as I can remember, I have traveled the world. My father worked for a major oil company and by the time I was seven, I had seen more countries than most people get to visit in a lifetime. Thereafter I traveled back and forth to boarding school in the UK from all corners of the world. You can imagine that from a very early age I was made aware of the rapid cultural changes happening around the world.

At the age of sixteen I lost all my hair due to the accidental use of the wrong medicine. This event changed me not only aesthetically, but also personally. I felt different from everyone else due to my new appearance. This is why my curiosity the difference in appearances of people started to grow and eventually became my passion. Soon after, I decided to abandon my plans to go to university and instead disappear on a year's journey to 'find myself'. I traveled the length of Tibet by foot and on my return the amateurish photo diary that I made was published. This was the start of my career as a photographer.

You have given your book the title 'Before They Pass Away'. I have often read how important it has been for you to install some sense of pride in the tribes you visited; to make them less susceptible to this whole idea of modernization / Americanization / homogenization, whatever you want to call it. Do you see the greatest threat in the possible disappearance of indigenous tribes lying in their own desire for change and the things the so called developed world can bring, or is it something that is rather forced upon them through climate change, devious governments or a relentless march of civilization?

I think this is a combination of all or some of these reasons. Our world is changing at breakneck speed. Countries that, not so long ago, were considered developing nations are now among the worlds wealthiest. It's inevitable that such rapid progress in affluence and technology ultimately reaches those cultures that, up until now, have managed to preserve their own identity and values. And when it does, their longstanding traditions will gradually disappear. You can not tell them to not change, this will happen whatever we do. But we can tell them what is so important about culture and how some traditions etc. don't have to be lost. How you can proud of your culture and traditions. Due to which conditions the tribes are disappearing is very different for every tribe. For Example in the Omo Valley they are going to build a huge dam which will be a problem for all the tribes there. Some of the grounds they live on will disappear or there will not be enough water in the river to water their crops. In other countries climate change will be a reason. For most of these people change will come due to several of the above reasons, not just one.

As a cultural anthropologist by education, I am especially honored to do this interview with you. After all, that whole anthropological field of study started on the same premise: documenting tribes before they vanish, and thus preserving them in some sense. However, that approach also received a lot of critique: taking away inherent dynamics and agency from so called primitive people; often romanticizing this whole idea of the noble savage; putting people on display or in a glass house; and simply overlooking or ignoring change. I know on some occasions you have received part of this critique. I certainly do not want to start this interview by attacking you, but I am curious how you defend yourself against this kind of criticism?

My dream had always been to preserve our world's tribes through my photography. Not to stop change from happening - because I know I can't - but to create a visual document that reminds us, and the generations after us, of the beauty of pure and honest living. And of all the important things it teaches us; ingredients we seem to have forgotten in our so-called civilized world. Yes the pictures are romantic, but not false. I just asked them to put on their nicest clothes, which they did. I'm not a anthropologist, but just a photographer who has a passion. The images are subjective but photography always is. I'm definitely not ignoring the change. I'm just trying to preserve some of what is left of these traditions and cultures. As for the picture, as I said I asked them to wear their nicest things, but when you see the images blown up really big, you definitely see lots of signs of 'civilized' society from watches to sunglasses and cellphones. On our Facebook we try and put some more information with the images and we try and explain that some of the tribes only wear some of the clothes only for tourists. I'm definitely not ignoring the change. I know they will change. The only question is how. I wanted to show people, even those who are not interested in the tribes or photography what we are about to loose. We can learn a lot from them.

You have given your book the title 'Before They Pass Away', and I have often read how important it has been for you to install some sense of pride in the tribes you visited. Hopefully to make them less susceptible to this whole idea of modernization/Americanization/homogenization, whatever you want to call it. Do you see the greatest threat in the possible disappearance of indigenous tribes lying in their own desire for change and the things the so called developed world can bring, or is it something that is rather forced upon them through climate change, dodgy governments or a relentless march of civilization?


I think this is a combination of all or some of these reasons. Our world is changing at breakneck speed. Countries that, not so long ago, were considered developing nations are now among the worlds wealthiest. It's inevitable that such rapid progress in affluence and technology ultimately reaches those cultures that, up until now, have managed to preserve their own identity and values. And when it does, their longstanding traditions will gradually disappear. You can not tell them to not change, this will happen whatever we do. But we can tell them what is so important about culture and how some traditions etc. don't have to be lost. How you can proud of your culture and traditions. Due to which conditions the tribes are disappearing is very different for every tribe. For Example in the Omo Valley they are going to build a huge dam which will be a problem for all the tribes there. Some of the grounds they live on will disappear or there will not be enough water in the river to water their crops. In other countries climate change will be a reason. For most of these people change will come due to several of the above reasons, not just one.

If we could start a global movement that documents and shares images, thoughts and stories about tribal life, maybe we could save part of our world's precious cultural heritage from vanishing. I feel that we must try to let them co-exist in these modern times, by supporting their cause, respecting their habitats, recording their pride and helping them to pass on their traditions to generations to come.

Only that way we can help them keeping their way of life for as long as possible. If we don't, they will vanish and with that we will loose a living example of how to treasure our natural surroundings and values like hope, optimism and courage, solidarity and friendship. We could learn a lot from these authentic cultures building on principal aspects of humanity, such as respect, love, survival and sharing.

Hoang Nguyen


Digital artist Hoang Nguyen

A fervent believer in daydreaming, Hoang has a story about the power of persistence. When he was in high school, all he wanted was to become a comic book artist. Every summer, he spend most of his time creating his own comics. After graduating as an illustration major, Hoang went to work at a design shop, doing advertising work. He stayed there a full five years. After that came comics.

hoang_art-hoang-nguyen2He originally trained as a Fine Artist, but changed courses during his days at college, and instead majored in Illustration. Back in the day, digital art hadn't yet evolved - it was just starting to. He went on to join the comic industry. Years later, when he joined a game company, is when he started along the path of digital art. For him it's still print. He has an iPad and loves to read comics on it, but prefers holding one in his hand.

Currently he lives in the US, with his wife and two sons. Born and raised in Vietnam during the war, Hoang's family migrated to the US when he was nine. As an artist, he's intrigued by the design of costumes, weapons and military machinery. This therefore really influences his artworks. Nowadays, he prefers to paint subjects that move him emotionally, and he believes that his two sons have a big impact on how he now views the world.

'Little Red' is his version of Little Red Riding Hood but he took a bit of liberty with it. He was inspired by Japanese wood block prints and wanted to create something with an Asian theme, sort of East meets West. He was always partial to well designed tattoos, so he included his version: Instead of the traditional wolf, how about a dragon?

Hoang loves paintings that capture a certain mood or an emotional state, usually someone in deep thought or sadness. "Girl with a Pearl Earring", by Johannes Vermeer. That picture still gets him every time. The look in her eyes leaves him with such awe and sadness. "It's as if she wants to tell you something, but can't. To me, the eyes hold so many emotions that one can tell or sense something by looking at them."

He's still learning even after 20 plus years as a professional artist and always trying to improve. His message to aspiring artists: "Follow your dream, no matter how big or small, but stay focus on one thing at a time. Find out what you're good at and practice, practice."

Portfolio: www.liquidbrush.com   Blog: liquidbrush.blogspot.nl

Tamura Yoshiyasu

YT (Nakanojo, Japan, 1977) is an artist, illustrator and teacher of manga technique.

He started his career in the comics world when he was fifteen as assistant and when he was twenty he published his first own work on Shonen Jump. Graduated in art at the University of Gumma in 2000, he published in 2003 the manga Fudegami on Shonen Jump. From 2008 he worked as an independent author, also being very active in illustration and painting. He participated worldwide in conferences as an expert and teacher of manga culture. For instance he exhibited his work at the Zona Maco Internationa Contemporaru Art Fair of Mexico City and at Hindari Zinfaro in Tokyo.

Present yourseflt to the Italian public: which is your artistic career? How did you become an artist?

My name is YT and I’m 36 years old. I started dowing manga when I was fifteen and I published the manga Fudekami on one of the most famous Japanese magazines. In the meantime I self-learned western realistic painting and I exposed in private exhibitions. At the moment, after being influenced by diverse concepts, for instance the shodo, my work represent both the main manga elements and the western and Japanese painting. I started being aware of being an artist when, with the guidance of TM, I participated in exhibitions in Europe and America.

tamura_4Your work merge traditional culture, manga and pop influx. Which are the inspirations and the goals of your art?

I frequently find inspiration for my art in the Yamatoe and Ukiyoe. I ask myself: if the old Japanese artist Kano Eitoku, Sharaku, Soga Shohaku would live today and would learn the modern manga and drowing technique, which kind of drawings would they do? The final objective of this reflection is to find the common ground between modern and traditional Japanese art regarding aesthetics. Until the Edo period, because of the Sakoku policy, the Japanese painting was a sort of apart culture. With the Meiji period and with the following WWII and the defeat the Japanese artistic identity suffered and resulted in being more influenced by the western culture. On the one hand there’s the risk that it became a self-satisfied art, because of the overcoming of the inferiority complex to western art, on the other hand there’s the possibility that the real Japanese aesthetic sense lays in the current underground manga culture. This was the same in the past for the Ukiyoe, both spontaneously generated and not tangled in academic and authoritative influences.

Manga and visual art have in common the drawings, but the motivations are very different. In manga there’s a story to tell. Which one of the two parts do you feel to belong? With which artistic mean do you feel more established as an artist?

Nowadays I tend to concentrate more on visual arts. For me art is entertainment, the manga first of all being closed to the values of contemporary society, it affects its continuous change. Art, instead, aims at drastically change the scale of values and at universality at the same time. As in Socrate’s filosofy, I’m interested in the universality of values.

Tamura_imagesBy our European point of view the Japanese visual arts represent the contamination of tradition and pop, with a big influence of the manga, anime and videogames aesthetics. The most notorious tendency in these regards is the Superflat, now became a very general term unifying very different experience. Do you identify with the Superflat movement?

Yes, I do identify. Actually I followed the lesson of the Superflat initiator, TM. The current artistic scenario is changing and moving on from the Superflat, but it certainly influenced me.

Tamura_8Turning the previous question upsidedown, which is the relation between the current Japanese artistic scene and the European and American art? Are there western authors whichnfluenced you?

The rules of contemporary art have been established in Europe and America, so you can think that the Japanese art scene is somehow an imitation. However, in a developed coutry as Japan is can happen that subcultures, as manga, get mixed with visual art. If this process goes on for the next generation, Japan has the chance of being an avant-garde and write the future art rules. The contemporary western artist which influence grew out of the canonical visual art such as Mark Ryden and the Art Brut artists. Moreover, the images of the Medieval age also have an influence on my art.

Do you identify with the macro-category of post-modern?

Yes, I do. Despite structuralism and minimalism find my sympathy, in my work I look for redundancy and decoration.

The pop art have always had an ambiguous relation with reality: on the one hand there's a critical approach, satirical and made of parodies, unveiling the contradictions of society and image; on the other hand there's who left any parody and accepted the visuals rules of contemporary society trying to enclosed a new idea of beauty in the new pop framework. Which is your approach?

I think that the lack of satire and critique is the weak point of my work. My work at the moment has the only goal of a fresh visual experience. My goal from now on is to introduce more components of social critique.

tamura_hip_naamloosModified, transformed and deformed the female figure is always at the centre of your work. What does this means for you? If it the representation of beauty?

The woman has always being represented, in east and west, in the past and nowadays, in the mainstream and in the subculture. For this reason I think that the intent to mix all these representations is quite a simple motif. Moreover, but this is just my personal suggestion, in the structure of primitive religions, so as described in the structural philosophy, present many examples where maternity and the woman are at the fore. Also at the symbolic level the Sezione Aurea, which always influenced the artistic composition, is linked to the woman and her association to Venus planet. I hope to find in my work the symbols for which woman are object of artistic representation since ever.

Among your many influence I also feel there's a religious iconography, is it correct?

The elements which I refer in my work are, in addition to the ancient Japanese art and the manga, the Italian medieval iconography. The woman that I try to draw are not a real character, but rather an ideal iconographic representation. I think that the universality and unrealism of the anime and manga characters has elements in common with the idealized image of Christ and Maria of the Medieval Europe. Also the golden background in my work is a referral to the Medieval Italian art. When I was fifteen and I started drawing Ital was the first European country I visited. The Christian art which I saw at that time became important for my artistic production. Now exposing in Italy artwork which summarizes the Italian medieval painting, the ancient Japanese art and the Manga is very significant for me both on a theoretical and personal level. I'm very grateful for this.


Already two of your paintings are now in the Famous Gallery here in Amsterdam, mixed with gold leaves and Umi. In the summer you will visit The Netherlands and you have been here before. How did you experience our country?

I get a very unique experience in Amsterdam. You know I am Japanese, with a different mind and way of thinking compared with European people. This is what i always felt in many countries in Europe, but I felt The Netherlands is very special.

There are too many people who have quite a different way of thinking and lifestyle with each other, the Dutch people are living in deep understanding with each other and making peace with their cleavers. Yes, I felt great cleavers and sharpness in the Dutch people.

I think there are historical reason in those cleavers and understanding, i know The Netherlands was a very great ocean country since long ago, and I know The Netherlands have the biggest collection of Ukiyoe, and Japanese old art, I saw many Japanese art in the Rijksmuseum. I am very glad to see my paintings in Amsterdam, and it has been a privilege to have this interview with Amsterdam Enjoy.

Marion Peck


Submerged deer, sad pigs and big eyed cats are the subjects of Marion Peck's world.

A romantic and silent world with fleeing clowns, horse legs, green lakes, nostalgic portraits and weird rabbits. Her landscapes and flowers are painted perfectly, but still there is often a strange feeling of displacement in her perfect worlds. We can see a swimmer swimming over a huge hairy snow monster which is just waking up, and wonder if it is the artist herself that feels that she can be eaten by a Yeti any moment...

Born in the Philippines while her family was on a trip around the world, Marion Peck has been doing her own thing as an artist since childhood. She has never been too concerned with labels or genres – except as a source of juxtaposition within her work. Her images play with the notion that there's a thin line separating expensive fine art and worthless garage sale junk as she mixes together 'lowbrow' styles (for instance pop surrealism and erotic art) with 'highbrow' techniques (oil painting and portraits reminiscent of historical pieces). Appropriately, her paintings are loved by alternative ànd elite art crowds worldwide.

After having grown up in Seattle, and studying art in Rome and New York, Marion Peck settled down in Los Angeles where she now lives with her longtime partner and fellow artist Mark Ryden. We already had the privilege to interview this 'king of pop surrealism' a few editions ago, and now it is high time to introduce the other half of this mysterious and amazingly talented couple, and ask Marion some questions of our own.

FuckYou_smlLooking at your work I see a lot of influences from the 1900's. Are you longing for those 'Good Old Days'..?

I am not a modernist, but that is very different from longing for the Good Old Days. I like a lot of modern art, but what I don't like about modernism, especially as it was taught to me in school, is that it considers other types of artistic expression to be "inferior" to it. For this reason, for many decades there was hardly any interesting figurative painting going on. The fascination of figurative painting is endless, there is still so much to be done with it, and it is just beginning to be embraced by a new generation of artists. I don't want to go back to the good old days before modernism, but I do think it is exciting that we have gone beyond it.

Your work is all a kind of Romantic and Fairytale like. Do you see paintings as an escape from the concrete and digital Disney World we live in today?

I definitely think of my paintings as a place to escape to. I know some people see the role of art as being more confrontational or political, but to me it seems the thing we need most in our lives in this modern world is a place for peaceful contemplation, and art is one of the only things that provide us with that. There is hardly anything we look at that does not move, beep make noise, hardly anything that is quiet. I want my paintings to be a soothing experience, to bring you to a place of imagination, a place you want to linger.

How was Marion Peck when she was a little Girl..?

I think I was kind of awkward and chubby, but basically a happy kid with a very rich interior life. I loved to read and draw, I loved my pets, and I loved running around in the woods and being in nature. I feel so sad for kids these days...I don't know if it is as true in Europe as it is in the States, but kids don't get to go play outside by themselves anymore here. It's horrible! Those early experiences and adventures were so important.


What do clowns mean to you....?

I take clowns very seriously. I think of them as mystical beings, messengers from other realms. They are all we have left of an important part of our old pagan culture, when during religious festivals, carnivals and processions there would be people dressed up as characters, figures that had a numinous, magical quality to them. The same thing goes on in Native American and African cultures, where costumed figures take on the roles of gods. Clowns are like that, semi divine, shaman-like, and that's why so many people are afraid of them.

LandscapeWithStandingDeer_smlThe outside nature sceneries in your paintings look extremely beautiful, too cute to be true. Sweet and creepy, real versus surreal, are you sometimes painting outside?

The landscapes in my paintings come from my imagination, an Arcadia that exists in my mind. I also look a lot at the paintings of the Northern Renaissance for help with my landscapes. I can spend a long time gazing at a small bit of landscape in the background of a Van Eyck or a Memling. There is a magical enticement to me in those tiny bits of landscape, an unreachable, longed for beauty, that I will always strive to get near in my paintings.

Apparently you still visit Italy now and then, besides you studied there. You probably still have a passion for this country, what makes it so special for you?

I went to Italy first as a young woman right out of art school. I won a prize that allowed me to stay there for six months, and I went to see art every single day. Back in those days, you could just walk straight into a museum like the Uffizi in Florence; there were no lines. I was powerfully attracted to the old art, and then of course I fell in love with Italy, and I just had to go back again and again. I traded paintings with this lovely family who let me stay in their palazzo in Orvieto and paint there, and I had some shows. It was amazing. Italy is a place where the moon is brighter, where you can feel the spirits of the past, where there is more magic per square meter. And the food is really good.

BoyWIthPuppy_smlIt helps to have a little humor, fantasy, to appreciate your paintings (sometimes close to a mix of classy stylish art with super cheesy art where symbols regularly are used). You were fascinated by dreams, how do they keep inspiring you?

I will always aspire to make paintings as strange and wonderful as dreams. I love remembering my dreams because of the sheer aesthetic delight and wonder they give me. But they are elusive things to paint. I will keep trying.

Your work shows very close resemblance to that of Mark Ryden. How did this influence come into your paintings?

From the moment I set eyes on Mark's paintings, they had an enormous influence on me. It was as though he was doing what I had longed to do my whole life. His vision and my own were so similar, but his was so much clearer. It was kind of like the first time I got eyeglasses as a child...my mind was blown. I had never seen any other art like his. Before him there was nobody who I felt "influenced" me except for maybe a bunch of European guys who had been dead for a long long time. But the pull of his art was so strong, I had to follow it, because that was following my heart, and that is what I have always done.

SalmonSpirit_smlI see pictures of you and him and he dedicates his book The Tree Show to: "Marion, my nature queen". How did you guys meet and become a couple?

Well, he was my favorite artist, and I heard he was coming to my city, Seattle, to plan for an upcoming show he was having at a museum there. I got myself invited to a party I knew he would be at, and I made a little booklet of my work and brought it with me. Then I drank down a glass of wine and went up and showed it to him. We talked a lot that evening, and I gave him my card, but I never thought I would hear from him again... I was just happy to have met him. But in a few days he emailed me. I almost fainted off my chair. We had a long email correspondence, which was good, because we are both quite shy, and also he was recently separated from his previous wife. After a few months we finally met up in San Francisco. And ever since then, it has been like magic.

Are you such a Nature Queen..?

I love Nature with all my heart. I am a pagan. To me it is very obvious that the earth is our mother, that we come from her, we are a part of her, we depend entirely upon her, and we should love, honor, cherish, and venerate her. Hell yes, I am a Nature Queen!

You already made a short movie with Mark Ryden that was looked at so,só many times:"Sweet Wishes". Is there anything else you would like to do but never did?

So many things! I would love to do more films, animations,maybe do some kind of surrealist theater.I think it would be cool to design some apps. But I do like painting best of all. It is so self-sufficient, so simple. I like that about it.




Lonely Opulent Things

Nataly Abramovitch, aka Kukula, makes extremely delicate and gorgeous paintings in a classical multi-cultural heritage style. In tune with her obsession for dolls, her playful ultra feminine characters look super hot, cute and girly Lolita-like. Next to this, she has a wide range of interests and tries to divide her time between her passions.

Nataly was born in a relatively isolated and small village about an hour north of Tel Aviv. Her few neighbors were mostly retirees, many of them Holocaust survivors. As a result her childhood imagination was nourished by equal parts princess phantasies and World War II horror stories. Thus the attempt to reconcile real life horror with phantasy life sweetness emerges as an almost constant theme in her work.

At the age of eighteen, instead of enlisting in the army as she was supposed to, Nataly decided to study art in America. In her own words this was "because the army wouldn't let her bring her dolls along to basic training". After receiving her degree in illustration in 2003, she decided to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently she is still based there in Berkeley.

Under the artist name Kukula, she has held many successful exhibitions, and her paintings have been highly respected and sought for by many.

Her paintings center on feminine, doll-like figures, often surrounded by objects with sometimes clear, sometimes obscure symbolic meaning. In her figures' poses Kukula recalls classical portraiture, yet the style is manifestly modern and pop-influenced. Next to that, her artworks disclose her personal struggles as mediated by a rich multi-cultural heritage.

Interview: Alexander Moust

In this edition we have the honor to see some of your new paintings that haven't been shown yet but will at your coming solo exposition in the Corey Helford Gallery in L.A. It's quite a different style, also absolutely gorgeous and beautiful: so where did this inspiration come from?


I was inspired by 19th-century Americana, especially a children's aesthetic as it appears in Mark Twain's adventure stories or the nostalgic illustrations of Holly Hobbie, which were popular in the 70's. But the main noticeable thing is that all my girls are dressed in Ulyana Sergeenko's recent designs. She's an upcoming couture fashion designer and I think the stories she tells through her collection work perfectly with my concept for this show.

For quite some time you had a passion to publish a book, you are a collector of antique books and a fan of Goethe. How is this process going along?

It's going well but I had to take a break from it for this show. In the meantime we've decided to have a little show catalog and later to include this new work in the book. I'm happy we're doing that.

When you were a girl you fantasized about being a princes in a world where grown ups were filled with cruelties of the WO11. Did those stories turn you into a princess and how were you inspired by them?

That is an interesting way to look at it but this is not exactly right. I was a very unpopular kid and so had to play alone a lot, which is why I took the part of the princess for myself. There was no one else to fight with me about it. I was very much into ballet and opera as a kid so that inspired my sense of drama. All my neighbors were Holocaust survivors and as a kid with no friends I hung out with them in my afternoons. At about the age of 5 my mom explained to me the horrors of WWII and so I had a strange mix of reality in my head.

Apparently you're inspired by the 18th century, Manga and you love fashion which has an amazing result in your paintings. Does every girl in your paintings also contain something of yourself? Are these emotions or experiences?

Some people think I paint myself. I don't think so, but it must be a little true. I sometimes paint my girls inspired by actual girls. For this show, for example, I painted Mira Duma and Lena Perminova. I found their sense of style inspiring.My work does reflect an emotion more than a story. But I think there's also a story in every painting I make.

Where does the name Kukula comes from?

From a TV show I liked as a little kid about cute tiny elves who live in the forest. There was a little baby elf that was very opinionated and her name was Kukula and she was my favorite.


You use quite a lot of symbols, keys, octopuses and other things in your paintings. Can you tell a bit more about that?

I use these symbols in the same way I'd use a word in a sentence to convey a certain meaning. My work is a form of communication with the viewer as well as a form of self-expression. The symbols are my language.

What materials do you use and when or by what do you get energy to paint?

I paint with oils, mostly Sennelier or Gamblin. I paint on fiber board because I like its texture and canvas is boring. To fuel myself I drink a lot of green tea and eat chocolate and berries.

Do you remember what your first paintings were like and how you felt making them?

Yes, I was about three and I painted a little house on a paper plate in kindergarten.

I have noticed that for those who have survived the holocaust or have lived with people who have survived wars, things such as art, drugs, sex and opulence in various forms became (and often still are) an escape from reality. A way out and a safe haven from the traumas they still carry inside. For many the war has never ended in their dreams and daily life. Would you care to elaborate on these topics in relation to your private life, dreams and work?

This is an interesting question. As a person who's obsessed with the subject of the Holocaust, I always wondered how it is that I'm also so obsessed with materialistic things—the world of beautiful objects—and I realized that's because I believe I have a right, as a living person, to indulge.

It seems to me somehow disrespectful to deny yourself pleasure when your freedom can be taken away from you at any time. If you have the opportunity for a good life you should live it. But at the same time I think it's only okay to indulge if it doesn't come at the expense of others.

How has your work and techniques developed over the years and do you feel they have reached a stage where they can start to move in another direction?


I think I have my specific style which I developed and I am still developing so that I can have a clear voice people notice. I think my work will continue to change without my noticing as it has until now. It's my own artistic evolution.

What does it mean to you to be an established artist and have you tried to express yourself in other art forms like performance, music or dance?Do they influence you much?

When I was in high school I played piano, sang in a choir and took drama classes. I liked it all and knew that one day I'd have to choose. The one thing I didn't take was art class. I guess it wasn't at the level I needed. After high school I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer but got scared by the people I met at the entrance exams for fashion school so I decided to study illustration instead. It was the easy choice in some way.

What is the most outstanding remark anyone has ever made about your work?

People have told me many times that my work has a lot of soul in it and I think this is the best compliment I could get.

Do you have muses, like men or woman that you feel close to whose lives have been elementary in developing your personal style?

I'm inspired by the idea of being a woman who is attached to her inner child and by being a woman in general. I think it comes through in my work.

And: have you ever been to Amsterdam?

I was once in Amsterdam between flights for eight freezing hours and I loved every minute of it. I went to the sex museum and the Rijksmuseum and just walked around a lot. I can do a lot in eight hours if I'm motivated. I have this idea in my head that the Netherlands got it right about a lot of things that are wrong in the world. I would love to explore it more.

Any chance you're coming this direction in the near future?

Why not! I would love to show in Amsterdam one day.

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