Tagged Interview

Homa Taj In Conversation with Dutch Artist Bas de Wit

A Moment on the Lips a Lifetime on the Hips, 2010, 220x160x60 cm, mixed media, Courtesy Figge von Rosen Galerie
A Moment on the Lips a Lifetime on the Hips, 2010, 220x160x60 cm, mixed media, Courtesy Figge von Rosen Galerie

Bas de Wit (1977)
Born in: Budel, The Netherlands
Lives in: Maastricht, The Netherlands
Dealer: Figge von Rosen Galerie (Berlin/Cologne)

Artist’s statement -
Making monuments to the huge fiasco of your very own enthusiasm

MV – Favourite movie(s) & director(s) -
My Top 5000 List begins with: 
Stanley Kubrick (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest); Stanley Kubrick (Dr. Strangelove), Mary Poppins (the movie), Federico Fellini; Todd Solonz (The NeverEnding Story), Roy Andersson (Songs From the Second Floor), John Frankenheimer (Seconds), Harmony Korine (Gummo), Peter Greenaway, Happiness, Black Cat White Cat and Them! (1954).

MV – Favourite book(s) & author(s) -
Alfred Jarry and Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote).

MV – Favourite cultural centre(s)/ museum(s) -
Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, Tate Modern & the National Gallery in London, K 20/21 in Dusseldorf, New Museum in NYC and the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht… also, Het Domein in Sittard, Schunck in Heerlen, MoMA in New York, Gagosian Gallery, Figge von Rosen Galerie, Galerie EIGEN + ART, White Cube in London, CONTEMPORARY FINE ARTS, Van Gogh Museum, etc etc etc etc.

I like everything!

MV – Your most aesthetically (sensual/ spiritual/ intellectual) inspired experience -
Oil sweat and tears, 2010, 250 x 190 cm, acrylic on canvas.

MV – Art (books, movie, exhibition, museum, etc) wish list -
A painting by Vincent van Gogh

MV – Most inspiring city -
Machu Picchu and New York

MV – Most influential – person, character, artist, filmmaker, writer, etc -
My Top 100 Most Influential People’s List (starting with…):

Thomas Edison, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Ferdinand Magellan, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, William Shakespeare, Napoleon Bonaparte, Zheng He, Henry Ford, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Nicolaus Copernicus, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Kublai Khan, James Madison, Simon Bolivar, Mary Wollstonecraft, Guglielmo Marconi, Mao Zedong, Vladimir Lenin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Alexander Graham Bell, Rene Descartes, Ludwig van Beethoven, St. Thomas Aquinas, Abraham Lincoln, Michelangelo, Vasco da Gama, Suleyman the Magnificent, Samuel F.B. Morse, John Calvin, Florence Nightingale, Hernan Cortes, Joseph Lister, Ibn Battuta, Zhu Xi, Gregor Mendel, John Locke, Akbar, Marco Polo, Dante Alighiere, John D. Rockefeller, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Niels Bohr, Joan of Arc, Frederick Douglass, Louis XIV, Nikola Tesla, Immanuel Kant, Fan Kuan, Otto von Bismarck, William the Conqueror, Guido of Arezzo, John Harrison, Pope Innocent III, Hiram Maxim, Jane Addams, Cao Xueqin, Matteo Ricci, Louis Armstrong, Michael Faraday, Ibn-Sina, Simone de Beauvoir, Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, Adam Smith, Marie Curie, Andrea Palladio, Peter the Great, Pablo Picasso, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Phineas T. Barnum, Edwin Hubble, Susan B. Anthony, Raphael, Helen Keller, Hokusai, Theodor Herzl, Queen Elizabeth I, Claudio Monteverdi, Walt Disney, Nelson Mandela, Roger Bannister, Leo Tolstoy, John von Neumann, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Jacques Cousteau, Catherine de Medicis, Ibn-Khaldun, Kwame Nkruma, Carolus Linnaeus…

MV – Most challenging aspect of working in the art world (& its institutions) -
Becoming the artist you are!

MV – Most gratifying aspect of being a part of the art world (& its institutions) -
Don’t become the artist they want you to be!

MV – Always carry with you … -
My past.

MV – What are arts patrons’ responsibilities, if any?
Parenting, if they have any kids.

MV – What are artists’ responsibilities to their art or(?) to society, if any?
Strive for the masterly, the great, the consummate, however painful the situation you have created for yourself

Maybe a short tekst [courtesy Bonnefanten Museum & the artist] about my work is something to contribute: 

The grotesque ‘motley crew’ that the sculptures and paintings of Bas de Wit populate, take possession of the space as only unwanted visitors do and thereby carefree swinging one dirty joke after another in to the hall.

What his image arsenal is concerned, Bas de Wit is a glutton.

Bas de Wit is also a multi-talent, a painter / sculptor, with the greatest ease he jumps from one medium to another.

A nervous chaos winds through the work of Bas de Wit.

Bas de Wit shares his preference for assembly and grotesque imagery with the viewer of his work. He shows us a hilarious, slightly ominous and mostly politically incorrect shadow world in which everything that we thought was good and innocent, has changed to its opposite. Luckily, it never becomes pretentious or overtly moralistic.

Bas de Wit is a somewhat laconic workaholic whose production now requires a big hall where he, in the noxious fumes of epoxy, polyester and polyurethaan works himself in sweat, all day. The assembled sculptures come together in an associative process and getting created giving a huge momentum along, like they could jump right off their pedestal. But make no mistake; Bas de Wit works predominantly with molds and casts, and that requires preparation, technical control and customization. The surprise, for Bas de Wit himself as well, lies in the finishing touch, when the work is given one last kick in the butt , it may be an addition as for instance a black crow on a devoured corpus with very impressive genitals, or a absurd title that suggests an inimitable mental leap (The more you cry the less you pee).

What sets Bas de Wit apart from others is his reckless imagination. Funny, provocative and sometimes touching, everything by Bas de Wit is left open to the maximum, both in form and content.

Bas de Wit! ……. If you had a fan club, I’d join!


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Homa Taj In Conversation with American photorealist painter Robert Neffson

 Robert Neffson, Louvre Pyramid, 44 x 64 (inches), Courtesy the artist

Born & raised :  NYC
Represented by: Louis Meisel Gallery and Bernarducci Meisel Gallery 


Artist’s Statement -
My style is based on the search to create a believable world of form in space. The process is informed by my experience of life and culture, where I have tried to balance acquiring classical values and skills with contemporary ideas and aesthetics. I want my paintings to look modern and make them in a relevant, hip, “avant garde” manner. l am a humanist with a sense of mystery, who uses images of the city to try and create potent moments of significance.

The paintings follow the formal laws of non representational two dimensions, which are vastly different from what happens out on the street.Yet I still want the suspension of disbelief, the “I could walk right into it” reaction.  In this sense my work relates to photography and cinema as well as traditional painting.  I am trying to create MY own city and it has unique, abstract rules. The final painting is perhaps more about me than the city.

The most compelling thing is when art and life come together and merge. This happens during the process of painting and the work is so real to me that there is a moment of “transfiguration”  of consciousness. It’s thrilling and what I live for. My goal is to have this carry over to the viewer as well.  It is always the effort to make other people feel what I  experience, that is the key.

MV – Favourite movies & directors -
Bergman,  De Sica, Antonioni, Fellini, Truffaut, Rohmer, Kurosawa, David Lean, Hitchcock, Kazan,  Bertolucci, Kubrick, Kieslowski, Polanski, Mike Leigh, Woody Allen, Scorsese, etc.

MV – Favourite authors -
Anything in English and maybe a little French or Italian if I have to.

MV – Favourite cultural centres/museums -
Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), The Louvre (Paris), National Gallery (London), My Studio (NYC).

MV – Your most aesthetically (spiritually) inspired experience -
Getting up this morning and walking my dog.


MV – Art (books, movie, exhibition, museum, etc) wish list -
A large comprehensive book, major museum exhibition and full length movie based on Robert Neffson’s work and life.

MV – Artist/character (in any field) with whom you identify the most -
Me as a kid.

MV – Most inspiring city -
New York City & Paris

MV – Most influential person – character, artist, filmmaker, writer, etc -
That shape in the mirror.

MV – Most challenging aspect of working in the entertainment/ art world (& its institutions) -
My accuracy, preciseness, even “labor” are sometimes viewed suspiciously, somehow not as art or people think there must be some trick. Most of the great work I love took tremendous effort. The art world is very confused right now and it romanticizes crudeness, awkwardness and ineptitude, which it mistakes for expressing “real emotions.”  Usually, a genuine artist expresses their feelings IN-SPITE of such failings and would be a better painter WITHOUT them. Good craftsmanship is not art, but the two are not mutually exclusive. To have both working together is ideal.

MV – Most gratifying aspect of being a part of the art world (& its institutions) -
Love of the studio life and knowing I have the coolest job in the world.

MV – Always carry with you …  -
I always keep the painting I am working on somewhere in my thoughts.

MV – Art world pet peeves -
Art and entertainment are often erroneously assumed to be the same thing.

MV – Tell us more … -

All of my personal experiences, memories of the places I paint and what happens in the studio determine how I put together the structure of the image. This is something that a single photo could never show. It HAS to be a painting for me.

If you look into a viewfinder of a camera, you see only a tiny slice of the world, I want the whole pie. Hundreds of images are used to make one painting.The final image may look like a casual moment, but I consider everything and extrapolate the most essential , trying to create something new and whole.  I am not just copying photos, but using them as an aide memoir to explore the shifting and fusion of different perspectives, blending weather and light conditions in one image, the tactile use of paint, and more.

Most of my paintings include a view of more than 180 degrees from right to left, so on the street, you have to move your body to see the whole scene. To get all that into a rectangle requires much manipulation. It’s not that I just want to complicate things, it’s that one little slice of reality is never enough for me. Everything is painted with respect for what it is, yet somehow, it becomes anthropomorphized. Each sequence of buildings and traffic signs takes on a specific human personality that is relevant to the central idea.

You have to sacrifice something if you want to make paintings like this, so I made a deal with myself long ago. If I can’t be outside, out on the street, at least my paintings will be as full of life and light as the real world.

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Homa Taj In Conversation with Dutch artist Tanja Ritterbex

Tanja , Contemporary Dutch Art, MuseumViews - 3

* All art works and photos courtesy Tanja Ritterbex.

Connect with Homa Taj (IMDb) on Twitter & Facebook

Your name : Tanja Ritterbex (b. 1985)

Place of birth : Heerlen , The Netherlands

Dealer/website : TANJA RITTERBEX

I am now living in Dusseldorf, Germany, where I study at the Artacademy in the class of the Danish artist TAL R.

Artist’s statement -

In Dutch: Citaat:“als je uiteindelijk begrijpt dat wat je ziet niet is wat je denkt, dan kun je er in zien wat je wilt.” In English: “When you finally understand that what you see is not what you think, you can see whatever you want to see .”

Favourite movies -

Vertigo (1958), a film BY Alfred Hitchcock. I love the way he uses the camera as the actor James Stewart is falling down. But on the other hand the movie: 50 First Dates (Peter Segal, 2004) with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore makes me cry every time. Ow my god! Also, Frida Kahlo (2002) a film by Julie Taymor with Salma Hayek.


Favourite books -

Charlotte Salomon, Leben? oder Theater? Now I’m reading this book: The Road by Cormac Mccarthy as suggested by my professor Tal R.

Favourite cultural centres -

Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf (Germany); Bonnefanten museum, Maastricht (The Netherlands); MoMA, New York (USA); MAMAC, Liege (Belgium); Kunsthal, Rotterdam (the Netherlands)

Your most aesthetically (sensual/ spiritual/ intellectual) inspired experience -

When my boyfriend was naked in the dunes at the Dutch sea! To walk through the underground caves of Maastricht (the Netherlands)

Art (books, movie, exhibition, museum, etc) wish list -

Charlotte Salomon, Leben? oder Theater? 

A movie from the artist Natali Djuberg. ( I saw her work in 2009 at the Biennale Venizie, Italie. And I directly loved it!!!!)

The Exhibition of the artist Bas de Wit at the Bonnefanten museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (Germany) show of Chris Martin.

And, I wish to see the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; the building must be amazing! (That’s on my own wish-to-see-list!!!)

Artist/character (in any field) with whom you identify the most -

Tracy Emin, Frida Kahlo, Niki de saint Phalle, Elke Krystofek and Sylivia Fleury.

Most inspiring city -

I think you can only say that if you really have lived in a city: I have lived in Willemstad (Curaçao, the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean.) I also lived in Salamaca (Spain) where I studied in an art school for 4 months. Maastricht and Bocholtz (in the Netherlands) and Dusseldorf (Germany). So, most beautiful city for me is: Willemstad; and most inspiring city is: Dusseldorf.

Most influential – person, character, artist, filmmaker, writer, etc -

My Danish professor at the Artakademie in Dusseldorf: TAL R.

Most challenging aspect of working in the entertainment/ art world (& its institutions) -

Just do what you want to do. Keep being yourself. To distribute my own time. To work day and night.

Most gratifying aspect of being a part of the entertainment/ art world (& its institutions) -

If a painting is finished, and then to look at it for a long long long time.

Always carry with you … -

A small notebook to draw or write in, make-up, a mirror and chocolate!

What are artists’ responsibilities, if any?

It’s hard to talk about responsibilities. I love to watch films from Lars von Trier: Idioten and Dancer in the Dark are my favorites. I think Lars von Trier gets his inspiration from everyday life, just like I do. Responsibility comes from the people who gives us inspiration. p.s : On my own wish list: really want to see his new film: Melancholia!

What are artists’ responsibilities to their art or(?) to society, if any?

I paint (acrylic on canvas) and make sculptures (installations, ceramics, polyester). They don’t carry any responsibilities. Whether people like my work or not that is their opinion. My work is not political, my work is very close to myself. I paint on a canvas like it’s a diary for me.


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Homa Taj In Conversation with Swiss Filmmaker Nick Brandestini

LONDON – I first heard about Darwin at the Zurich Film Festival where everyone was raving about this documentary by a young Swiss director. In fact, the film won the Best Documentary Award at ZFF, followed by another (BDA) at Austin Film Festival, later in October. Since its premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January (2011), Darwin has been receiving great reviews from critics around the world, including one (Variety) with which I wholeheartedly agree: “Undeniable poetry.” It wasn’t until London (55th BFI Film Festival) that I had the chance to see Darwin and meet Nick Brandestini …


Homa Nasab – How did you hear about Darwin? 

Nick Brandestini – I was interested in making a documentary film about a small, isolated community in the desert. My co-producers Sandra Ruch and Taylor Segrest, whom I met at a film festival and whom I wanted to work with, actually found the town of Darwin while researching on the Internet. My initial choice of a desert community turned out to be too small to make a feature film about. So this is how it all started. I did not know at the time what the film would eventually be about. This all became clearer during filming.

HN –  What inspired you to make a film about it? 

NB – For some reason, I was always fascinated with the Wild West and Ghost Towns. I made a few short documentaries before in Europe, and I wanted my first feature length film to take place in the US. My main inspiration was to learn more about the people who live in a place like Darwin. I love the environment of the desert, but could not understand why anybody would want to live there, away from everything. After making this film, I understand much better.

HN – How did you, as filmmaker, configure the narrative, the story of your film that is the portrait of a place where nothing happens?

NB – The fact that not much happens in Darwin was indeed a bit of a challenge. When you enter the town for the first time, you think it is an actual ghost town with no people in it. One of the few interactions the 35 residents have takes place at the post office when they pick up their mail. But not all go there every day. And the only major event where most of the town comes together is at the 4th of July celebration, which is also in the film. I think it is quite an emotional scene that illustrates or symbolizes the Darwin residents’ independence and own way of life.

During the making of Darwin my co-producers and I were constantly discussing how to shape the film. There were a lot of interesting individual scenes that we could work with, but not a single story that would involve all the residents. After a while we found that these scenes all dealt with similar, larger themes such as “religion”, “family relations”, “war & peace”, or “death.” This is why the film is divided into different chapters. And I think the film has a poetic or philosophical tone, without being too obvious about it. At least that was the intention.

HN – I understand that you self-funded the film so you didn’t have to worry about selling the idea of making a film about an uneventful ghost town with a population of 35. Aside from your beautifully handling of this apparently mundane subject, I am really touched by the fact that perhaps your film may not have been made 15-20 years ago, in the pre-digital age.

NB – While the film seems to have high production values, it is actually a low-budget film. Darwin also had a very small team. The core team consists of basically 4 people. And like you say, the film would not have been possible even 10 years ago. Today’s technology really helps filmmakers bring their visions to life. You don’t need to have expensive equipment anymore to make a film. The relatively small camera that I used (a Sony PMW-EX3) created great high-definition images that look very nice even on a big screen.

HN – The town’s population is comprised of a motley crew of characters. And, I mean that in an affectionate sense. Yet, you portray them without really judging them…

NB – I did not expect the people of Darwin to be “dangerous” or “crazy”, as some people would characterize them. I always wanted to portray the people of Darwin in a balanced way. Of course, I wanted to show some of the more eccentric and unusual aspects of the community too, but not focus on them. I was more interested in hearing the people’s stories, why they are in Darwin and what they like about it.

HN – How did you convince the residents of your good intentions to do a documentary on their town? Especially considering its somewhat poor reputation…

NB – Well, I was very careful not to rush things. And I really did not want to invade their lives too much. I think many people in Darwin are there because they prefer to be left alone. But I got along with the residents very well and they were very nice to me. And I think it also helped that I was from a foreign country and that the film crew consisted of just me.

HN – There is a navy base located near Darwin which, metaphorically speaking, feeds the town’s residents with some kind of apocalyptic fever…

NB – Yes, the next-door Navy Base clearly has an effect on the Darwin residents. Their water actually comes from a spring that is located on the base. The fact that nobody really knows what is happening there certainly feeds all kinds of speculation. Some people in town are quite matter-of-fact about it though. Monty for example says: As long as they don’t bomb my front yard, I have no problem with ‘em. And in fact, the relationship between Darwin and the base is generally quite good, even though some residents naturally feel bad vibes from its presence.

HN – Would you live in Darwin?

NB – I like to visit the place, but I could not imagine living there for longer periods of time.

HN – Have you been back since you finished filming?

NB – I have been back to Darwin to show the residents the film. It was a special premiere of “Darwin” in Darwin. That was in May 2011. It was one of the highlights of the “Darwin adventure.” I am very happy that the people of Darwin liked the film. I really wanted to create something that they approve and can also enjoy. In fact, they were laughing at the humorous moments like every other audience. In addition, they learned things about each other that they did not know before. I had a great time in Darwin and I will return again in the future.

HN – Where is the film showing next?

NB – The festival run of Darwin is beginning to slow down a little bit. However, I get quite a lot of invitations to submit the film. If a festival would like to screen it, I usually send them a copy. I am now also trying to get TV stations interested. And, I think there might be a theatrical run in my home country of Switzerland.


HN – What is your next project?

NB – That is a good question. I don’t have a specific one at the moment. I do however have a few ideas. And, for me, there are some “ingredients” the new project should have. It will probably be about people, and less focused on one single issue. I would also like the film to have a cinematic environment that is nice to look at. And, hopefully it will also offer opportunities for humor.

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Homa Taj In Conversation with Swiss-German Dealer Bennet Vertes

Salis & Vertes is one of Europe’s most prestigious modern and contemporary art galleries. Founded in 1994, its exhibition spaces in Zurich and Salzburg showcase some of the most iconic, museum-quality works of art spanning the past 150 years. Earlier this year, Bennet Vertes founded Vertes Modern in the heart of Zurich with a fresh program of art to appeal to younger collectors. I met the younger Vertes at the start of Autumn, in Zurich…

Homa Taj – How long have you been with Salis & Vertes …?

Bennet Vertes – I finished my MBA in London at the beginning of this year and then a few months later I entered full time into our family business. Over the past years, I traveled with my father and participated in many fairs, such as Art Cologne and TEFAF. I sold my first painting when I was 16, about 10 years ago. A painting by Marc Chagall, which was my motivator to enter the art world.

HT – When (& why) did you decide to found Vertes Modern? 

BV –I saw the opportunity to create Vertes Modern with a new product spectrum aiming at a younger target audience. I launched a new website, collected more art, enrolled at new fairs and worked on a new marketing concept. I launched the company 3 months ago.

HT – How is Vertes Modern’s program different from Salis & Vertes’?

BV – Vertes Modern focuses on modern, pop art and contemporary art whereas the artistic focus of Salis & Vertes is shown on pieces of Impressionism, Fauvism, German Expressionism and École de Paris.

HT – You are German and you have worked with Salis &Vertes which has presence in Salzburg & a permanent exhibition space in Zurich. How do you reach beyond your established (& pre-dominantly German-speaking) collectors?

BV – I use social networks, such as Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn as well as e mail newsletters to keep international clients updated. Besides, I leverage the existing clientele of Salis & Vertes who has responded very positively to the new launch of Vertes Modern. Also, I grew up in Geneva and London and feel rather European. I have international art and target an international clientele.

HT – How do you decide with which collectors to work? In other words, what qualities do you think make a collector?

BV – First, I start with the collectors I already know and work on a positive customer relationship.  Clients develop from prospects to first time clients, to repeat clients and then to collectors. For me a collector is someone who has a clear articulate strategy of what they like and has collected several pieces of an artists or a specific style

HT – As a curator, I have always been interested in mid-career artists (40-55 yrs old) who have a solid body of work yet are young enough to create for 30+ more years… How would you define your taste in contemporary art (the types of artists with whom you would like to work, etc)?

BV – I am very open minded if it comes to contemporary art. I personally enjoy video installations, as well as Chinese and Japanese art. I constantly watch the market carefully and look for dynamic, young artists who I believe have great potential but have not yet acquired mainstream exposure.

HT – How do you meet contemporary artists?

BV – I get emails from artists who would like to present their art in our showrooms or fairs. Then I meet up with them personally and try to understand their philosophy and ambitions. Most of my friends are somehow involved in art and share with me their ideas and contacts.

HT – You have just participated in your first fair the 17th edition of Kunst 11 Zurich. What was your program for that show? 

BV – The program for Kunst Zurich is post war, modern and contemporary art. I show artists such as Calder, Chamberlain, Feng, Francis, Hirst, Murakami, Rauschenberg, Richter, Vasarely, Warhol, Wesselmann, Xiaogang and others…

HT – What was your experience of Kunst 11 Zurich?

BV – I was very happy to have successfully launched my new concept. It has been great to meet with new clients and to hear their feedback and what they are interested in. The next fair I am doing will be Art Karlsruhe, in March.





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