Heart and Mind - Interview with Dutch Painter Erik Suidman

                                  Erik Suidman

“I sometimes feel what the people I am painting feel. At times, my face becomes totally cramped because it is set in a scream or some other hysterical contraction I am working on. Sometimes I feel nothing, and sometimes my mind drifts away. But when I am going through some hard times everything I feel seems to stick in the paint.” 
[ Erik Suidman]

Erik Suidman - Stadium

Erik Suidman- Stadium 2

Erik Suidman- Stadium 3

Erik Suidman - Stadium 4
I was impressed by Erik Suidman’s paintings, since the very first time I laid my eyes on them, but being able to get in contact with him and talking about his art enhanced the great respect and admiration I have towards this artist and his work. Erik is a man of great human depth, willing to investigate, read and feel others’ emotions, reflecting and voicing them throughout his vivid and colorful strokes. 

Erik Suidman - Without a Word of Warning
Erik Suidman - Twijfel

Suidman’s portraits unveil, the powerful scream of pain echoing inside the human emotionality, reflecting frames of mind as a mirror of the soul, working a cathartic liberation on the bystander who identifies with the emotion which stands in front of him and deeply in his own heart. 

His work is a huge study about the expression of human emotional life throughout an excellent use of colours and a brilliant employing of a complex weaving of lights and shadows, creating an heart-breaking atmosphere which absorbs the onlooker, inevitably directing his attention to the facial contractions, the gestures , the bare emotion displayed without censure. 

Erik Suidman -De Filosoof

Erik Suidman - De Slachtoffers E1

Erik Suidman - De Nachtwacht

Erik Suidman - De Rode Colonne

His powerful realism becomes even more evident and sharper in the representation of violence and cruelty: the subjects show a fierce and proud grin, which is both intriguing and disturbing at the same time.

Erik Suidman - De Slager

Erik Suidman - De Kapper

Erik Suidman - Woensdagmiddag

Thus, moved by the overwhelming astonishment in front of his art, I decided to contact Mr. Suidman - I can’t hide my great pleasure when he kindly agreed to immediately grant me an interview.

F:  In your biography is written that you started painting in 1994, after graduating in Dutch literature. What was the moment you chose to start creating art? What made you take this step?

E:  After graduation, I started to write a novel, which had seemingly been my purpose in life up to that moment. It took me about a year to fork out half a book, slowing down during the process, getting more bored by the day, and wasting even bigger portions of my working days on drinking coffee with my neighbour. Then one day a friend asked me to paint a mural in his room. I hesitated because I had never painted anything remotely good, but he insisted and I caved. It took me a week, and this turned out to be by far the best week in this tedious year. A few weeks later, another friend offered me a spot in her studio. I took it, and from one day to the next I became a full-time painter. I finally felt I was doing what I was destined to do. Unskilled and totally ignorant in the field of technique or materials (I started off with ordinary house paint because I liked the shine) I produced a heap of fiascos but learned a lot in the process.

F: In your paintings, some of the most frequent subjects are grief, desperation and boredom, in such an intense way that the viewer empathizes with the subject in a sort of catharsis. Your paintings make leverage to the hidden inner-self of the spectator, becoming a revealing mirror, reflecting and bringing up each one’s inner pain. How did you develop this genial skill?

E: While painting, usually unconsciously, I tend to feel what the person I am portraying feels. Not while painting his jacket or the background or whatever, but when I work on someone's face, my own face often slides into the expression I am painting. I do not think that is a genial skill, it sounds a bit like a simple trick, although I do not think it would work if you apply it consciously. A certain sort of energy probably affixes itself into the brush stroke, the speed or the intensity of painting, which may result in something that communicates with the onlooker. In my studio or at an exhibition, people often recognize a lot of their personal emotionality in my portraits.

Erik Suidman - Kunstliefde

F: Your art is so intense and communicative, it seems to have the clear mission to unveil the terrible – and at a time inevitable in our society- habit of hiding under masks, under layers of lies and fake smiles. In your Tiles, you set free the real feelings of people in the most intimate and vulnerable moments, as they are unable or unwilling to face the dirt in their lives, and, with your Clowns, you bring up the hidden intentions of hypocrites and criminals, ripping Maya’s veil, as Schopenhauer would say, thus, enhancing your role as artist to a higher level, as seeker of truth. What brought you to choose those subjects? 

E: Not so much as an artist, but more generally as a person, I have difficulties dealing with people who are dishonest or fake. I can deal with brutality and immediacy, but not with insincerity. When people stop being straightforward it gets hard to figure them out. Annoying as this may be, when people are hard to read they become enigmatic and hence more interesting, even dangerous. When I started painting I was drawn towards depicting loud, mono-syntactic emotions. Later on, I became intrigued by duality, an expression can become more interesting when it is harder to interpret, or when interpretations may vary. Once people start wearing masks, literally or figuratively, it becomes uncertain whether the expression that is shown to an audience corresponds with the expression behind the mask. Someone's real state of mind may be the complete opposite of what we see. There might even be nothing behind the mask. The first time I applied the duality of opposing expressions was in the Clowns-series. In later works, expression were increasingly hidden behind masks that revealed little or nothing of their content. And yes, as many people are, and all people should be, I am scared of clowns.

The great authenticity, humbleness and heartfulness of this outstanding author along with his interpretation of human emotions, the great mastery of techniques and the innovation in artistic field contribute in making him a Pioneer of Art: a genuine Artist who reasons with his very heart.

Erik Suidman - Mijn Hart


Thanks to the author for the kind permission for photos and for the time dedicated to the interview

Written by Federico Bertorello a.k.a. Freddy Kingley 

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