Persona June, 13th 2021 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 318 - Rupa van Teylingen / Tattoo Rupa

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 318 – Rupa van Teylingen / Tattoo Rupa
On a Thursday afternoon in April I visit Rupa van Teylingen, the painter and tattoo artist. He leads me into the beautiful Cinetol building in the Tolstraat in the Amsterdam Pijp neighbourhood. Behind the table with glasses and drinks for the visitors on it, I see dozens of paintings in concentric circles. It is the Great Rupa Show that lasted until April 28th.

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Rupa van Teylingen, a jovial Amsterdammer with a blond mustache and goatee and a black hat on his head: “It’s a shame it ends. The show dies prematurely. I will have as many people as possible come by to see it.” On the floor behind the table I see dozens of drawings for possible tattoos, depicting tigers, dragons, beautiful women and even an ‘l’origine du monde’. Rupa: “everything is for sale.”

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Subconscious landscape
We walk to his workplace. There fellow painter Sanne is working on a painting. Four/five large canvases hang next to each other. There is a comfortable yellow chesterfield chair for when the artist wants to rest. “I do ten things at once,” says Rupa, “if I get stuck at one, I move on to the next.” I see a castle with a lady, with a skull behind her, very colorful. “A ‘subconscious landscape’, ocean, a ghost, a soul.” Next to it a tiger with a horse skull in the background, and a chessboard pattern on the bottom.

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“Take it easy for a round,” says Rupa. “The show can also be seen upstairs.” I will do that. I see many dozens of small and larger paintings with a range of subjects. For example, I see ‘The Bourgondiers’, where a man and a woman are enjoying a meal with a glass of wine. ‘The Three Graces’ with a white robe and flowers in her hair. A torso. A tiger looking at a fire. A pirate with a saber in his mouth. A devil carrying a yellow Christ figure in his arms. A devil with a trident.

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Devil serpent
A skull showing at the back a woman. A woman sleeping next to a tiger (a reference to Rousseau’s painting of the sleeping man next to the lion?). A cat with a red-yellow umbrella. A geisha in the forest. A nurse emerging from a rose, left and right an angel. Three ribbons with the text ‘heroic’, ‘determined’ and ‘merciful’ (the motto of Amsterdam).

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A broken skull with a red devil behind bars. A blue-green Chinese dragon. An alternative version of Picasso’s Guernica. Two wolves in fierce battle, in black-white-grey. A blue eagle above the mountains, in the background the sun and red skies. A snow leopard.
In the outer ring a large painting about Death, a skeleton with a scythe, purple flowers and black smoke from a pipe. Another large painting depicting a devil serpent with a woman with bow and arrow in her hands. A soldier and a woman in yellow with a cloud like a broken heart above her, on the left a grave cross. A large bat amid yellow lightning bolts. A green crocodile. Two red-headed heron-like birds, the sun behind them, framed in a block pattern. A tattooed man with a frying pan with two fried eggs instead of his head.

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Ruudt Wackers Academy
I return to Rupa who was busy talking to some visitors/buyers of his work. How long has he been an artist? And how do his paintings relate to his tattoo work? He tells that he attended the Ruudt Wackers Academy. “The last academy where drawing and painting are taught. I also wanted to learn that, the technique of drawing and painting. We received art history, modeling, portrait drawing, still lifes, fine painting. I attended that academy from 2005 to 2009.”

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After more than a year in which he did assignments, he started working for the Tattoo Studio of the most famous Dutch tattoo artist, Henk Schiffmacher. “I have been working for him for ten years now. For the first six years I was only tattooing. There was no room in my head for anything else. At a certain point I wanted to make free work again. As far as free work is concerned, I have started again, I have let go of the academic lessons, I do it for relaxation.”

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Key work
How would he describe his theme? “Life and death and everything in between. The magic of life. That’s the gist. Magic, those are the things you can’t reach, that go on in your head, things you sometimes didn’t know existed.”
Does he have a key work? He has. We walk there. The work is entitled ‘Existence’. It’s not a big work in size, but I see many of his themes and decals. “This work felt like a liberation. When tattooing I am very precise, when painting myself I am loose. It should not be too cramped, I get a lot of pleasure from it. It was a key moment. I had painted away my last assignment. I decided: no more assignments. Then you are only busy with pleasing, often it is never enough, you have to keep changing things. I make my money with tattooing! In addition, I make free work, if people don’t buy it, it doesn’t matter. I am inspired by artists such as Jan Toorop, the Mexican artist Posada, van Gogh and Rembrandt.”

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Finally, what is his philosophy? Rupa: “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” It belongs to Bootsy Collins, bassist of funk band Funkadelic. If you open your mind, your body will follow you. I believe in myself.”

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