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Philip Akkerman


Philip Akkerman, "2007 no. 84"; "1996 no. 91"; "2022 no. 46"; "1982 no. 2"; "2016 no. 157"; "2002 no. 15".

Q: How does the construct of identity influence self-portraiture?

A: I do paint self-portraits, but I don't paint Philip Akkerman.

The purpose of existence is to make a self-portrait.

Existence is a blind force that, through man, can see itself.

Because we are the only ones with which that blind force can perceive and contemplate itself, that is our mission.

Q: Is the medium you use important in portraying your identity as an artist?

A: I am a painter.

It is not a coincidence that a culture characterized by individual freedom discovered painting. A paintbrush is easy to handle and offers endless possibilities for variation.

Is painting dead?

To learn about the death of painting, we should look at the birth of painting. Inevitably, there were certain circumstances in the past that made the emergence of painting possible or even necessary. In the future, when those circumstances disappear again, painting will also disappear.

Studio painting arose towards the end of the Middle Ages. In this period we see how a homogeneous culture, in which the church and nobility ruled, slowly had to make way for a heterogenous culture of free citizens. The craftsmen, who lived by the orders of the nobility and clergy, slowly but surely broke away from those patrons and started painting their own fantasies and interpretations of the world.

No two individuals are alike, since then there exists an endless pluriformity within painting. Our art history has since been characterized by constant changes, actions and reactions, schisms, contradictions, crisis, chaos. (Crisis is inextricably linked to Western culture. Crisis is the source of our culture's frenzied vitality.)

Paintings by those free citizens were bought by other free citizens. From the merchant to the shoemaker: paintings covered the walls everywhere. An unbelievable multitude of paintings were made.

Painting did not just appear out of thin air. It expresses the increased freedom of the individual.

Something completely different, but related: From single-celled organisms, through plants, animals and finally man: the higher on the stage of development, the more individuality in appearance and character. The human being is the individual being par excellence and painting is its best means of expression.

Someday, in the future, that individual freedom will disappear again and only then will studio painting begin to decline. (During the dictatorial regimes of the 20th century, fascist Germany and communist USSR, there was no place for individual freedom, painting was severely restricted and it diminished.)

Q: What is the core difference between a selfie and a self-portrait?

A: The less technical aid artists use, the better they can shape their ideas in their own personal way. The use of a machine, in the case of a selfie it is a camera, leads to uniformity.

All selfies look alike. Everyone takes the same photo.

Selfies are self-portraits that you take for others to look at. The purpose of a selfie; look at me!

I don't make my self-portraits for others, I don't even make them for myself.


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