Antonius is a painter who produces his work from his Ateljee in Scharnegoutum, a village in the Dutch countryside. Six years ago, he rediscovered an old passion, and since then a colorful life journey had begun: from experimenting with nuances of pastel chalk, to spreading layers of bright acrylic colors. His main subjects are animals with human characteristics and emotions.
His first painting exhibition in Ghent will take place in our hotel, and since we really love art here at Flandria, we have decided to interview him and learn more about his colorful work.
“A personal journey from realism to happiness”
From 19/10/2019 to 15/12/2019
Why did you decide to exhibit your work in Ghent?
I first came to Ghent over twenty years ago, and it was love at first sight. The atmosphere, the coziness and the culture all felt like a warm blanket. Since then I’ve made many close friends there too. Flandria hotel has always been my (our) home in Ghent, a place to wake up with the sun on your face and the sounds of St. Bavo’s cathedral in the background. Ghent brings me peace and inspiration. This exhibition is my way of thanking Ghent.
Can you explain the title of your exhibition, “A personal journey from realism to happiness”?
The title has two layers: realism refers to my art as well as life itself, while happiness refers to my colorful paintings and personality. When I was young, I was a very cheerful, colorful person in both looks and character, but everyone is shaped by what they go through in life. After my father suddenly passed away twenty years ago, I became ‘greyer’. A car accident in 2012, followed by a long and difficult recovery process, and the passing of my mother during the same period, made everything go black. After a trying journey, I eventually regained my colorfulness, which shines through in my current, lively artwork.
Why are animals your main subject?
Animals are honest and show their emotions. They also made a good subject for me to experiment with colors, fur and skin textures. Where I used to achieve this mostly with pastel chalk, I now often use acrylic paint. What I do is realistic and colorful. I am to display character and emotion in a realistic, colorful way.
What is your favorite color to work with?
I find this a very funny question. I try to use specific colors to express specific feelings, but because I am an emotional person, it can suddenly change to a different color during painting. I try to match what I am feeling to what I am trying to convey. Anyway, if I have to choose, my favorite color is purple. The mix of blue and red speaks to me: blue shades make a painting expressive, red shades make it powerful, and purple creates mystery.
Do you have a specific work method when creating new work?
This varies strongly: from catching a glance on the street, to a photo or a painting by another painter. Take my painting of the chimps for example; everyone knows The Kiss by Klimt. A work that radiates love, tenderness, security. With the chimpanzees, I tried to convey a feeling of questioning: will he hold on or let go; is this goodbye forever or will we see each other again; will we stay together or will we go our separate ways? The questions that come up in every relationship at some point. It is this feeling of uncertainty that I am trying to convey. Perhaps my explanation will even affect your personal emotions when seeing the painting.
Are there any artist you draw inspiration from?
Like Prince once said: it’s just around the corner. I get my inspiration from people, animals, environment and stories. Prince is a source of inspiration for me; his music is playing in my workshop 80% of the time. Working to his music is wonderful. Another artist that makes me very happy is my good friend Imke Meester. Other times, someone just comes along and offers a positive influence. A while ago, for example, I was stuck on a painting. When I got a visit at my studio, I was told to try listening to M. Pokora. The music turned out to have just the energy I needed to break through that blockade.
Do you consider painting to be a hobby or would you like to make your fulltime profession out of it?
It started out as a hobby in 2012, after my car accident. Through lessons from Imke Meester and figuring a lot of things out myself, I was increasingly asked to do commissions. Ever since I have really found my own new style, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster. My work is seen and appreciated. I still have a “side job” at a hotel for a few hours a week, but I hope that this rollercoaster keeps on going, so I can work on my passion fulltime.
Do you have any future project in mind? Or something new you are working on right now?
When everything is set up for this exhibition, the first thing to do is to clean up my studio, and then take a break. Knowing myself, however, I will probably just keep going. For 2019 there are still a number of highlanders on the schedule. Of course I am already thinking of next projects, the question is just where to start 😂. The plan is to start ‘colors of the wind’ in 2020: a series of human portraits, in my new style of course. The idea is to portray people with a story, with their hair dancing in the wind.
If you are interested in learning more about Antonius and his work, come to the opening day of his painting exhibition in Ghent city centre:
“A personal journey from realism to happiness”
From 19th October to 15th of December 2019
Free entrance (nibbles and bubbles for the first visitors!)