Persona January, 24th 2019 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 198 - Casper Verborg

Casper Verborg – 1, studio

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 198 – Casper Verborg

Man is a narrative being, says Casper Verborg. You can see those stories in his paintings. Casper Verborg: “As long as man exists, he tells stories. With these stories, man tries to explain and understand the world. Without the context of stories, life is very empty. “

casper verborg – 2

I speak with Casper in his studio at the Brouwersgracht. We are in the back room where there is a mini soccer table with a team in the colors of ADO, The Hague Football Club, yellow and green, next to the table we are sitting at. In front of me hangs the painting ‘Strange weather’, with two men sitting on a chair and the left one exhales a red cloud. Above it hangs a dark purple cloud and left and right a tree, of which the right one is bare.

casper verborg – 3

Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas)

He made it this year, 2018. Behind me is ‘Performance # 4’. A man in yellow bathrobe with hood, a kind of nurse arranges his shirt by his neck. Palm trees in the background. It is made a few years ago. Casper: “The world is complete with stories. Recently we had the arrival of Sinterklaas. Everyone creates his own story to make that understandable. His arrival is interesting for me for exactly the same reason. If I would make a painting of it, I would incorporate all of the impressions I have of it.”

Given his painting history, a series around Sinterklaas would fit well into his oeuvre. “I have previously worked with skin color and its change in a different color, in 2011. With make-up I made a white person black and a black person blank. The black Pete (zwartepiet) debate did not play then. If I had made those paintings now, that would be in a new context, that would be different than it was then. I used parades earlier. A procession is a great occasion to introduce people and archetypes. With that I give handles to the viewer, so that he can make his own connections. “


Pink Elephant

Casper picks up the book ‘the pink elephant’. It appeared two years ago when Casper won the Sieger White Award, a prize for artists from East Netherlands till 35 years. “The Sieger White Foundation wants to present painting talent from the east of the Netherlands to the other side of the country. I lived and worked in Arnhem. Fred Sieger and Helen Sieger-White, who created the award, originally came from the West of the Netherlands, but lived and worked as an artist in Zevenaar. Part of winning the prize was this book publication. “

The title, ‘pink elephant’ refers to the elephant in the room, to something that is strongly present, but not mentioned. “I immediately think of Dombo from Walt Disney, who sees pink elephants when he drinks alcohol. The ‘pink elephant’ stands for strange objects in paintings and is also related to ‘the bull in a china shop’.

That elephant can be seen on his painting ‘Event, no 2’. It is a painting consisting of two parts. You see a tableau vivant with many people in a kind of club, with a man with a high hat, a sort of circus director, and in front of him the elephant, in this case a yellow horse. “The scale is not accurate. Some figures are slightly larger or smaller than others. I have combined several layers in this work. It is a mixture of various worlds. What is this, one will wonder. Where are they?”

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Large scenes

It is his key work, he says. “I made it when I studied for two years at KASK (Royal Academy for Fine Arts) in Ghent for my Master’s degree. My focus then shifted from the individual to the whole of which the individual is a part. The theme became more and more a narrative. For the first time I painted a big scene. I felt more freedom. There are many figures on the canvas, so that it is no longer about the individual, but about his role in the bigger picture. You can interpret it in more ways. “

He finds it interesting to impose riddles. “It is not a trick, both in composition and in terms of color use it fits well. You can wander through it as a spectator. It is dynamic, a kind of film, it could also be a literary story, but with me as a painter you get all the information at once.” Previously his work was simpler in design, you saw one figure, at most two.

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Why did he go to Ghent? “I had been thinking about it for a long time. In 2003 I graduated from the Arnhem Academy (ArtEZ). I had been active in Arnhem for a number of years, in my studio. I worked with a gallery in Nijmegen and that went pretty well. At the same time I felt stuck with my work. I opted for a Master’s degree in Belgium because I wanted to be more involved with paint. Belgium is more of a painting country than the conceptual Netherlands. In Belgium there is more mystery around it. “

Ghent turned out to be a nice city. “There is a lot to do, there are museums, there are the cafés; there’s a lot going on. Michaël Borremans and Luc Tuymans were sources of inspiration. I had to get used to the mentality. Belgians are less pronounced than the Dutch. “

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In 2013 he returned to Arnhem. “My work had changed considerably. A new world opened up for me. My relationship ended a few years later. Then I asked myself: do I want to stay in Arnhem any longer?” It was time for a next step. After some wanderings he ended up in The Hague because of love reasons. “First I had a studio behind Hollands Spoor station and now on the Brouwersgracht in a super place, with even a private garden. My girlfriend works in the rear spaces of the building. I hope we can be here for a long time. “

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The Griots

In his recent exhibition at Hoorn & Reniers gallery ‘A white horse is not a horse’ there was a lot of recent work, in red and yellow colors, including the painting of Trump and the big yellow monkey, ‘Offspring’. “There is more topicality in my recent work. The use of color has become more intense over the years. I try out new things. Every work has its own mood. The interaction between figuration and abstraction is important. The painting process is essential to the power of the work. The color has become firmer, the contrasts are set stronger. “

He works with more panache and more freedom. Intuitively he lets things arise. “I always made sketches before I started, but lately I started more often just by heart. I put some colors on the canvas and then continue. The work ‘The Griots’ started with orange and yellow spots. I painted air, bushes were added. And only then did I put in figures.” We look at the painting in the studio. I see Ku Klux Clan-like figures with pointed hats. “They are Griots, minstrels from Africa who tell stories. Sometimes they wear a pointed cap. It radiates authority, it has a religious connotation. Because of that hat and mask, the figure is hiding, it is a kind of role play. “

Casper Verborg finds the artist’s life fascinating and varied. “It’s a nice profession. I would not know what else I should do. The freedom you have is very nice. I decide the time myself, I can work until 11 o’clock in the evening, but also go into the city or just to the beach. The regularity at offices seems to me very tiring. “

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Artistic development

Art and culture is important for the whole society, Casper says finally. “I followed the teacher training in Arnhem and then also taught. I now see the reduction of attention to artistic development among children at school. Teachers give less drawing and crafts lessons. That is not good for the children. They grow up in ‘spiritual poverty’ and in later life know little or no about art and culture and what kind of fun you can have of it. And when they encounter it, they experience it as scary, hostile and dangerous. “


1) Casper Verborg, studio, 2) strange weather, oil on canvas, 70 x 200 cm, 2018, 3) performance # 4, oil on canvas, 160 x 110 cm, 2015-2016, 4) whiteface no. 2 blackface no 1, oil on canvas, 200 x 150 cm, 2010-2011, 5) Event # 6, oil on canvas, 170 x 300 cm (diptych), 2015, 6) Event no. 2 (pink elephant), oil on canvas, 190 x 280 cm (diptych), 2013, 7) offspring, oil on canvas , 220 x 320 cm (diptych), 2018, 8) performance painter, oil on canvas, 220 x 160 cm, 2018, 9) the griots, oil on canvas, 190 x 160 cm, 2018, 10) a white horse, oil paint on canvas, 110 x 150 cm, 2017-2018

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