Diederik Kraaijpoel: a commemoration

Gezien van de Riet

Diederik Kraaijpoel Wotan's throne (Grand Canyon) inkt/potlood/acryl op papier 48,5x63cm

Diederik Kraaijpoel Wotan’s throne (Grand Canyon) ink/pencil/acryl on paper 48,5x63cm

Many people know Diederik Kraaijpoel, champion of a new realism in the Netherlands. In 1989 appeared his book De Nieuwe Salon (The New Salon), that humorously and effectively made a butt of the (post)modernist establishment.
Diederik was an exemplary teacher with a sharp eye, who looked further than his own painting style. He was a painter and draughtsman of impressive romantic landscapes, inspired by the American sublime such as Frederic Church, or by the German Caspar David Friedrich. He was the author of books that belong to the library of every self-respecting artist or art historian. He made true what he always stated: in the judgment of art it’s not about taste, but about insight. Insight in the working of image elements.

Diederik Kraaijpoel Aangroeisels (Sevilla) inkt/acryl op papier 25,5x33cm

Diederik Kraaijpoel   Growths (Sevilla)   ink/acryl on paper   25,5x33cm

In 1989 I worked as a sociologist in Bolivia and there I read De Nieuwe Salon. It was an exciting and funny read. Finally someone told us what was what. In the evenings I studied at the Fine Arts Academy in La Paz and there I tried in vain to explain the Dutch modernist aversion for realism, but people thought it too silly. In Bolivia every expression of art was considered worthwile as long as it had quality.

Gezien van de Riet Meertje in de Pyreneeen tempera/olie/paneel 23,5x30cm

Gezien van de Riet   Pond in the Pyrenees   tempera/oil/panel   23,5x30cm

Back in Holland I first met Diederik in the Amsterdam art gallery Vieleers, where he inaugurated an exhibition of Hermann Markard’s work. I immediately spotted a good piece for the Dutch art magazine Palet and I asked him to write it. I also told him about my Bolivian experience. He would later ironically proclaim that his books were read even in Bolivia… Some time after that he confided to me that he wondered at that time: “Who’s that little lady?” Typical.
I promised to show him some photographs of my Bolivian work, but I left my portfolio in the car. When Diederik asked me: “Where’s your portfolio? Or did you suffer from an attack of modesty?” – I had to show him.That was the beginning of a great time for me: once every while I took my work to Diederik’s workshop for a real master class. A friendship followed. I learned a lot, and quite different from the things I learned at the academy in Bolivia, for which I continue to have many warm feelings.

Bij Diederik thuis, 2008, L: Yolanda Kraaijpoel, M: Gezien van de Riet, R: Diederik Kraaijpoel

Visiting Diederik, 2008,  Yolanda Kraaijpoel, Gezien van de Riet, Diederik Kraaijpoel

A few years ago Diederik Kraaijpoel passed away and Kunstzaal Van Heijningen in The Hague offered me the opportunity for a co-exhibition. To commemorate him, I chose Kraaijpoel’s work to accompany mine. Two other friends of Diederik’s were invited to participate: Annet Hiltermann and Jan van Loon. Yet another friend of Diederik’s is inaugurating the exhibition: Tom Hageman, founding director of the Klassieke Academie in Groningen, in which Kraaijpoel was also involved.

Annet Hiltermann Lac des Seracs met moerasje (boven Aosta) acryl

Annet Hiltermann   Lac des Seracs near Aosta   acryl

The exhibition takes place at Kunstzaal Van Heijningen, one of the first art galleries specializing in realism. Leo van Heijningen is an art historian and also a graduate from the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Art) in The Hague – a rare combination.

Leo van Heijningen on Diederik Kraaijpoel:
“Diederik Kraaijpoel as a painter is considered to be one of the godfathers of the Noordelijke Realisten (Northern Realists). As a teacher at the Groningen art academy Minerva he emphasized  the craftmanship aspect of painting and devoted a lot of attention to old and new painting techniques and working according to observation. Moreover Kraaijpoel published polemic observations on art, in which he showed himself to be an advocate of figurative art: De Nieuwe Salon from 1989 was his most sensational work. He was involved in an advisory capacity in the birth of Museum De Buitenplaats in Eelde and the foundation of the Klassieke Academie in Groningen. Diederik painted and drew after nature; his favorite subjects were animals, plants, trees and specially desolate landscapes. He himself commented: “But you know, a melody in a minor key is the most comforting.” In this exhibition you can see beside Kraaijpoel’s work also the work of three other artists who want to honor him as a former teacher, colleague or source of inspiration. All three of them have come to this art gallery thru Kraaijpoel’s mediation.”

Jan van Loon Stilte Olieverf op doek 80x80cm

Jan van Loon   Silence  Oil on canvas 80x80cm

A fine moment in the realm of the arts! Inauguration: Saturday, March 12, at 4.00 P.M.
The exhibition is from March 12 till April 3.
Kunstzaal van Heijningen, Noordeinde 152, The Hague, Holland
Open: Wednesdays to Sundays 12.00 – 5.30 PM
Phone: +31-70-3459053

TRAC2014. It’s moving!

Gezien van de Riet

“It seems like we’re back in the time of Impresssionists!” – a comment to be heard at The Representational Art Conference 2014, in March this year in Ventura, California. I participated in this heart warming and enriching event, the second of this kind, organized by the California Lutheran University. Michael Pearce and Michael Lynn Adams were the leading organizers. The theme was the significance of realist art today. Almost 350 participants –artists, philosophers, art teachers, art historians, publicists, gallery owners, and art collectors – participated in lectures, panel discussions and art demonstrations. They came from the US and Europe. It was already characterized as “the most important movement in the art world of today”.



michael lynn adams en michael pearce

Michael Lynn Adams en Michael Pearce


Brandon Kralik

The moment
Brandon Kralik, painter, writer (Huffington Post):
“We are only now getting a large body of well-trained painters who are young. This is the perfect time to start discussing content, meaning, and philosophy. TRAC2014 is precisely the forum for such discussions.”

Jeremy Lipkin was one of the artists giving a demonstration:

Jeremy Lipking fasen

Jeremy Lipking fasen

Here you could see what a photo doesn’t show:



he mixed one colour nuance after the other on his palette, and all of these colour touches next to each other joined perfectly, like an ininterrupted melody. A true master!

Peter Trippy, editor of ‘The Fine Art Connoisseur’, discussed strategy. The question is: how do we gain a space on different levels, like museums, the media, or art history. For too few people know of our existence. So co-operation is necessary. And, fellow artists: for the moment please stop talking about using photos, about loose or precise painting etc., because within five minutes you will be at each other’s throats and we won’t get anywhere with representational art! Think of the wider audience, that is not interested in splitting hairs over these matters. Conquer the audience!

peter trippi en teresa oaxaca

Peter Trippi and Teresa Oaxaca

A sample of the many discussion topics: What is the meaning of realist art?, What is kitsch?
Roger Scruton –known from the BBC documentary ‘Why Beauty Matters’– and Odd Nerdrum had a dialogue that earned them a standing ovation.
Everybody said goodbuy with great enthousiasm, because a TRAC2015 was already foreseen!

odd nerdrum, roger scruton

Odd Nerdrum and Roger Scruton

“I felt a sense of community that I have never experienced as a painter.”
“I am reminded that I am a part of a bigger movement with important work to do.”
“TRAC was very stimulating I loved the social part of it. That said if you had asked different people in attendance “Who is your model of a great representational artist?” things start to fall apart. I would say David Park, Kara Ross would say Bouguereau and Brandon Kralik would say Odd Nerdrum. There are some real differences underneath the excitement.”
“There are many, many of us, I’d venture to say a vast majority of TRACkers 14 who felt a total sense of community on the level never experienced before. A community of purpose. A community of vision. A community of worldview. A community of philosophy in ART and in life. A community of intent. A community of what we stand for and of what we can’t stand. All of which has very little to do with any particular ‘look’ (that be much too reductionist).”

Translated from Dutch by Jeroen Strengers

TRAC2014: www.trac2014.org
TRAC2015: www.trac2015.org
Video: Introduction to TRAC2014

Lecture ‘Imitatio et Inventio’
TRAC2015 is held from 1 till 5 november in California and I will give a lecture about true to nature realism.


Fine Art Connoisseur with White Abeles

Fine Art Connoisseur with White Abeles

My ‘White Abeles in the Dunes’ was finalist in the Art Renewal Centre’s (ARC) competition 2015 and is now published in Fine Art Connoisseur!
ARC is a museum for representational art and actively promotes it. So does Fine Art Connoisseur.

The particular

Gezien van de Riet

For many years I lived in the mountains, the Bolivian Andes. I used to look up to the eternal snow of Mount Illimani. Back in Holland I missed that, but then I would look up and see the clouds. Or I was standing under a wintry tree and I would see the branches reach for the light, space, the universe. That was the first thing that struck me about the trees.

Branch White Poplar  Pencil/paper  15x10cm

Branch White Poplar Pencil/paper 15x10cm

There was more. The architecture of a beech or chestnut, again in winter. The colours of the bark, wet from the rain. The elegant curves of the white poplar’s branches. The roots of the beech.

Roots beech  Crayon/paper  28x40cm

Roots beech Crayon/paper 28x40cm

That’s why I pricked up my ears when Huigen Leeflang (Curator of the Rijksmuseum’s Prints Cabinet) inaugurated an exhibition in Galerie Petit (Amsterdam, November 29, 2014). He recounted how painters in the Dutch Golden Age were supposed to depict trees. It was all about variation and differentiation of the foliage, the branches etc. You had to hit on the particular.

Back home I looked up Samuel Van Hoogstraten’s Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: anders de zichtbaere werelt (Introduction to the High School of Painting, or The Visible World).

“Look ye, if thou copiest with a loose flourish the floundering foliage of the trees, thou shalt depict them each in its own character; for the broom-like Cypress, and the curled Oak-branch do not resemble one another. Linden and Willow differ too much; so do the stems of the Chestnut and the Beech.  Distinguish Rocks, Grottos, Trees, Shrubs, Stems, Rushes, Flowers, Foliage and Branches.” (Fifth Chapter. On Landscape. P.139)

White Poplar in the dunes Alkyd-oil/panel 90x60cm

This struck me because I had been painting white poplars or abeles with the intention not just to pay attention to the light, but also to the tree bark, and I wanted to paint the leaves you could see separately as much as possible as little individuals. Risky, I know. But if done rightly, you can compare the detailing to music where every note must be played clearly without fragmenting the melody, where variation in repetition only enriches. That’s what I wanted to try. Of course I had to take into account what was near by and what was far off, and what had to attract more attention and what less.

I’ll come back to the Dutch Golden Age at another opportunity. An age full of treasures. Next posting: is there a new movement of realist art growing in the U.S.? Or as it called there: representational art.

The painting above ‘White Abeles in the Dunes’ is recently selected for participation in the figurative art competition, yearly organized by the MEAM (Museo Europeo de Art Moderno) in Barcelona. I am so glad with it, also because the jury consists of painters as Antonio López García en Odd Nerdrum!

Translation from Dutch: Jeroen Strengers