Kamiel Proost
The Ship of Fools is originally a triptych; three paintings forming one. The three paintings are Birth, Life and Death. 

Birth: Out of the flower on top, in a shower of Light new Baby’s are falling onto a heart shaped World. As Life begins all seems lovely, pink and positive. The Buddha is a big temple, a meditation cathedral, that I one day hope to realize. On the Pink Elephant you see the three races of People; Asian, African and European living in harmony.


Life: As we grow up, the chaos of Life starts surrounding us. We end up in traffic jams, drown in desires, make Fools out of ourselves or get beaten up by the police. There is two ways of looking at it: On the left island you see a Buddha observing the world in acceptance. On the right we see a skull island with a Doomsday Prophet screaming at the world that it should change, or else...

Death: All suffering disappears when we die. That’s why the skeletons are all dancing laughing and juggling; they laugh at Life‘s complications. Under the rose we see the tunnel of White Light. The Source of our Souls that takes us up when we die... only to be reborn again, and fall upon the world as new Baby’s... The title ‘The Ship of Fools’ came from a popular medieval book ‘Das Narrenshiff’, a satire about the human weakness and folly.

In those days a way for society to ridden themselves of the crazy and the crazed was putting them all on a boat and letting them sail from town to town. Hoping they would cure, or just fall off.  But my inspiration was a small painting painted around 1500 AC by the great Hieronymus Bosch. In the ship you will see two generations of artists from Amsterdam. Tattoo King Henk Shiffmacher, with the white hat. Painter and Rock ‘n’ Roll Junkie: Herman Brood. And the younger generation, my friends: George Heidweiller (guitar), Dadara and painter Willem, dressed up as anti hero Gutsman. And last but not least: Me, dressed up as a fool in the tree. The Tree of Life...

On the day I signed the painting, Willem walked into my studio with a newspaper. ‘Look’ he said ’there is going to be a large Bosch exhibition, and scientists proofed that Bosch’s little painting ‘Ship of Fools’ was once part of a triptych..!’ The painting was shown in the exhibition in 2001 in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in a multi media representation together with Micha Klein and Dadara.  The painting took me one year to paint, hope you enjoy it.

Kamiel Proost

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