Persona April, 11th 2024 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 461 - Christiaan van Tol

christiaan van tol – 1-

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 461 – Christiaan van Tol

Every day Christiaan van Tol makes a drawing based on a photo in the newspaper or on the Internet. He also did that on the day I spoke to him. A missing cat has been found more than 200 miles from home in Moycullen, Ireland, after four years. He has made a beautiful drawing of the cat (black) and its owner.

christiaan van tol – 2

The drawings are on his weblog. See below. I spoke to Christiaan in the Hague Art Circle (de Haagse Kunstkring) because I saw two beautiful – and also humorous – paintings at the new members’ exhibition that turned out to be by him. The paintings also contained texts. The works are called ‘From a (stupid) Western’ and ‘From a (stupid) slapstick’.

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Text and image

In the slapstick painting, the main character escapes just in time from a cake being thrown at his face by petting the cat. The other painting is about everything in a saloon. Christiaan: “The main reason for making it was because I came across a photo of a runner with the expression that my main character now has on her face.”

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Christiaan van Tol refuses to name a core theme: “I don’t even want to know. As we go along, something is created.” Everything is possible. Also figures upside down. Text is also possible. “Comic language (how the story is told in images and language in comics) is beautiful. It is full of clichés, but that makes the communication very clear. I like to use clichés myself. Put a few dashes behind something that needs to move and you will see speed. That’s figurative language. For the cake painting I used a few dashes like this, for the speed of the cake. By the way, I’m not a big comics reader.”


Some kind of conversation

He experiences the story while painting. The result is also a surprise for him. “Fantastic. A novelist has that too. That the story is created while writing. It’s a kind of conversation. Something appears on the canvas that you have to respond to. I have an easy chair and I spend a lot of time looking at the work. It then goes in a direction that is inevitable.”

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He teaches portrait painting and drawing at Ars Aemula Naturae in Leiden, and also fills in when colleagues are unable to attend. “I have been able to work in almost all the courses. Nice, very nice. It’s useful, and I meet people in a functional way. We each have our role.”

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Does Christiaan have a key work?

He has. Even several. Actually all his work: “namely the work I just finished. I’m surprised that things have gone this way. The canvas can become anything. “Wow, I made this.” I keep gaining freedom. It keeps moving up. But the idea always remains that it will be the next painting that will be the one.”

Christiaan has been an artist for over half a century. He is now 76. He studied at the Royal Academy in The Hague and at the Free Academy (Vrije Academie). When he graduated, when he was 22, he first ended up in educational work. But he soon became a full-time artist. “The contact with colleagues is good. I love going to the studio and making coffee first. I almost live in the studio. It is spacious, there is also an outdoor space. It is located on an industrial estate. I can put all the work I’m doing next to each other.”

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He has no complaints about the audience. “I have built up something in terms of network.” He even has some collectors. “Once someone has bought something, he usually buys something more often. Last week I was with someone who now has about 50 of my paintings.”

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Finally, what is his philosophy?

He likes to portray stories, he says. “Not so long ago I organized an exhibition that I called ‘Narrative’, to which I invited three artists who also make narrative work.” The most beautiful stories are created through play. “I think playing is an important activity. If I would have a message, but I don’t have that, it would be: play a little more. Perhaps a formateur (a shaper of a new government) should also play more. Perhaps he will then come up with completely different solutions. You don’t play for the result, but rather as a result, something unexpected can arise.”

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And this while in primary school one of his reports said: ‘Chris, you shouldn’t be so playful’.

Photo 10: portrait photo Christiaan van Tol.

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