The flatulent bubba’s boys band bar

A river runs through it, and there ends the comparison between Rotterdam and Bangkok, the former being a very shrill shadow in the immensity of the latter. Bangkok is not a BIG city; big cities have Broadways, Central Parks, Brandenburger Tor’s or Champs Ellysees. It is a large, an extended city, with blocks of high rise, the occasional archaic remnant or temple, countless derelict sheds and an endless array of peddlers and food stalls, repeating itself towards and along the outstretched suburbs into the hinterland. Public space is scarce in Asian cities. There is, however, the popular Khoa San road, and of course there is Patpong!

In reality it is not that much of a deal: two short streets cleverly disguised as ‘night market’, clearly reflecting this year’s social media rage with T-shirts featuring text such as: ‘Come to My Space and I will Google your Twitter” (or Twitter your Yahoo and countless variations thereof). For the solitary visitor, strolling the streets has a lecherous quality to it, turning ones back on the market stalls and peering through an open door, flocks of skimpy’s are seen clutching poles, or a row of seated skinny girls clutching a basket filled with Ping Pong balls, eagerly ogling for voyeurs. There is an immense sadness in this, it is like selling your soul to the devil and having him decline the offer.

Menus are thrust at you offering a wide range of feline acts, involving intricate gymnastics or air powered propulsion, such as: projecting darts, ping pong balls, blowing smoke rings, or extinguishing candles, writing letters or squashing eggs along with a vast range of alternative curiosities I have since blocked from memory.

Honestly! Do we really want to know this? Is it enticing to see the cradle of humanity degraded to a farty freak show?

For those of you who are tempted –out of anthropological inquisitiveness no doubt- to join the flesh trade by entering, I would recommend reading; “Sex trade” ( the trafficking of woman in Asia) by Louise Brown as deterrent.

I sit quietly sipping a beer and talk to a souteneur complaining of weak trade and offer him a brilliant business plan, a real niche market gem! I suggest opening the ‘Flatulent Bubba’s Boys Band Bar’, featuring nr. 1 Bubba jackknifed, fondling the saxophone keys through his legs, triggering the instrument by gaseous omissions from his hidden orifice, seconded by a trumpet player and Nine Inch Nigel hooded in stainless steel cap on xylophone or base drum. With musical acrobatics by Pete Townshend or Jimi Hendrix in mind I am sure an electric guitar could well be included into the package.

Bangkok march 2012

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Vietnamese legionaires

Nguyen Hue is the Champs Ellysee of Ho Chi Minh city, an enticing wide French style boulevard with boutiques and restaurants. The fossilized uncle Ho oversees the growing middle class entrepreneurs and war veterans scuffling about selling homemade copies of “The quiet American’, and Mac Namara’s war testimonial. Apart from the bustling capitalism and virulent opportunism he would have enjoyed seeing that there is no sign of Mac Donalds or Burger King, although this is not due to lack of franchise opportunities but simply because the culinary talented Vietnamese have an excellent palate refuse to eat dead ground cow on soggy bun drenched in greasy sauce with a hint of pickled cucumber. Just off the main road lies the Paris style Opera house on a neat square with tidy benches and flower beds. Also somewhere along the road a rather surprising statue of a Roman warrior with Vietnamese features. This calls for investigation and I surf the ever helpful Wiki-Pedia.

This is what it enfolds:

Antiochus III the Great had to give up Asia when the Romans crushed his army at the historic battle of Magnesia, in 190 BC. After the treaty of Apamea (180 BC) Asia was surrendered to Rome and placed under the client king of Pergamum.

But not the entire area was crushed, a small village refused to surrender and send their chief warrior Nguyen Hong to retaliate. He crossed the Himalayas with a herd of elephants and liberated Lebanon from the Phoenician warlords.

He was then invited to join Scipio’s republican forces as honorary general, and collected taxes for the equestrian order under a law passed by Gaius Gracchus in 123 BC.

After Augustus came to power Nguyen was offered consulship of Greater Asia but declined the offer only to guide Marco Polo through the silk route to end his days in the quiet pastures of the Mekong Delta.

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work in progress

I was invited to pimp up the New Port Saigon new office building in Ho Chi Minh City.


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uitgaan in Ho Chi Mhin city

Op een ochtend wordt je wakker om tot je ontzetting te ontdekken dat je bent veranderd in een ouwe sok. Wanhoop is de Engelse manier! Tien jaar is achter je gepasseerd, en je rent en je rent om de zon bij te houden, maar die is aan het zinken. Niemand heeft je verteld wanneer je moest gaan rennen, je hebt het startschot gemist.

En zo bevind je je op het terras van het hardrock café in Ho Chi Minh stad, de gemiddelde leeftijd van de terras gangers is dankzij jouw aanwezigheid gestegen tot ruim 18 jaar.

Er is weinig te merken van de communistische heilstaat, iedereen hier heeft een iphone, op T shirts staat heel lollig: ‘ Ipho, made in Vietnam ’. Een referentie naar Pho Bo, het nationaal gerecht. Porsche Cayennes rijden af en aan om kroost op te halen.

Een hoek verder slaan twee mannen met een hamer lege blikjes plat om ze ter hergebruik naar de smelterij te brengen.

Er zit een jongen aan een tafel verderop die lijkt op de persoon die je zelf was op de leeftijd die hij nu heeft, hij wordt omringd door nymphettes in hotpants, korte rokjes of LBD’s zonder uitzondering in pumps met hakken van 10 cm, als bijen cirkelen ze rond de honingpot, de jongeren worden omringd door een sfeer van jeugdige onoverwinnelijkheid.

In je linker ooghoek knippert een reclamezuil beschuldigend haar boodschap: ‘phat phuc’, ‘phat phuc’, een meisje rekt zich omzichtig, en rechts, tot je geruststelling een ander, meer uitnodigende reclame boodschap: “suc thit”, ondertussen gaat de barrage van optrekkende brommertjes meedogenloos en eindeloos voort. Het is zoiets als de Kalverstraat op Koninginnedag waar 150 000 brommertjes in losgelaten zijn.

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Water (Indonesian sub-marine)

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LUCHT (indonesian sun set and rise)

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We are on a 40 ft cat sailing the Indonesian archipelago. All the boys’ toys are there, diving gear, speargun, laptop with google earth, engine powered dinghy, kite and wave surf kit, chess board and a multitude of black boxed beeping and glowing navigation gear including a gps tracker.


We sleep out on the foredeck trampolines and watch the full moon, the full-on Milky Way, the sun set and rise again – forever majestic , the usual bright red and orange sash droooping along the horizon- and hoist sail, snorkel around a bit through the multicoloured coral reefs and kaleidoscopic marine life.

Indo is a hot and humid place, the sun is relentless, the 1st thing I did was get my hair cut with a pair of rusty shears by a local babu advertising her ‘salon’ on a dried banana leaf with carved letters: inside a creacking stool and a broken mirror.

On the first night we needed to have the boys talk and boozyness, reclined on the deck after having dropped Kate on shore among happy bubbly backpackers and set to it. Hours later the sound of splashing oars brought a slightly intoxicated Kate back, after having fallen into the water, losing her wallet end drowning her Iphone and attempting to cuddle up to us.

Anchored on Northern Lombok in front of a small village, had a look around, followed by herds of kids all smiling and gazing and tottering about us, making us feel rather Pied Piperish. A small boy clinging to the stem of a rising coconut tree cut some nuts of and offered them to us, helpfully chopping them clean and open for us to taste its luscious juice.  The village had seemed a quiet and restful place but a local ghettoblaster played Indonesian house music until 2 a.m. Then an hour later the dogs, both wild and domestic set  in a voluminous stereophonic opera in howls, barks, grovels, snarls and grunts. It was quite impressive: a growl on the left followed by loud and multi vocal howls on the right as the middle part barked rithmically in baritone. It lasted at least 15 minutes. Just as deep sleep was finally about to fall upon us the fisherman fired up their rattling gun like diesel engines on their wooden proas and reverberated past. Soon after the cocks woke up and treated us to an a cappela orchestra in cuckolds. This then was a sign for the immam to climb his bell tower and chant his incomprehensive and a-tonal  inshallahs. He seemed to be in jolly spirit and full of enthusiasm as he persisted until the sun reared its early rays on the Easter horizon.

Having left that behind us some days ago we are now sailing a steady 7 knots east on a calm sea and the Matheus Passion loudly playing over the onboard music system.

Sweaty greetings from 08 S, 117 E.


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Onlangs opgedoken uit de duistere catacomben van de ‘in consignatie’ opslag van mijn Amsterdamse galerie en nu weer in eigen bezit, twee werken uit de serie ‘schilders in hun atelier’ uit 2000.

Het betreft hier Ernst Ludwig Kirschner, vooruitstrevend Duits expresionist en neuroot, ooit te gestoord gevonden om in krijgsdient te mogen treden, en Max Beckmann, ook wat arty en zenuwlei-erig van natuur, die nog een jaar of tien in Amsterdam gewoond en gewerkt heeft. Beide kunstenaars werden als ontaard beschouwd in de jaren 30 van de vorige eeuw.

Het setje is strak ingelijst en wacht op een leuk LAT stel die eerst elk een van de doekjes thuis ophangt om hen na enige tijd broederlijk naast elkaar te kunnen hangen in een nieuw  gezamenlijk onderkomen.


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One morning…

Programmed One morning the artist awoke to find, to his dismay, that he had been programmed overnight to paint an endless series of silly little paintings.

I recently received the above text with a large full-colour printout of a multitude of small images, albeit not endless. I count 168 small paintings, each measuring 30 x40 cm, and be it questionable why anyone would venture to actually sit down –or stand up- to meticulously paint 168 small, naturalistic, recognisable images, yet there is logic somewhere. There seems to be method in it.

As for silly, methinks the grunt of the metier is far too complex to be called silly, although some images do seem somewhat superfluous or wanton, I would suggest that there is no silly-ness involved, but rather ‘tongue in cheek’, a wry sense of humour or a ‘taking the piss’.

I see before me the reproduction of 168 extremely lively and colourful images, there are definite themes discernable, 7 groups of 24 similar or clearly associated images.They are cropped tightly together, in group formation with minimal inter-space. I wonder what would happen if they are loosely dispersed on a huge wall, in patterns alternating dense with lucid, colourful with opaque, playing with the various theme’s. It would be a full 7 bar symphony in colour and themes!

I see 24 portraits and recognise them as self-portraits by various canonical painters, Cézanne, Matisse, Corot, Goya, Ingres, Modigliani. Here the painter paints his self-portrait through reproducing the self-portraits of his examples. It is like photo-shopping your reflection in Chuck Close fashion using cut out car ads and calling it ‘AUTO’ Similarly a series of 24 landscape quotes by clearly recognisable predecessors, loosely painted in the style of the original, whereby we note that impressionism is clearly not the favoured movement. We find Corot again, Cezanne, Picasso, but also an archaic El Greco and steamy Whistler next to a wild De Rain.We find a series of sea/sky scapes, some intricate, others elaborate, or dripped and splashed upon.

The nude is represented in the form of 24 Asiatic models, probably Chinese, yes, well, I would agree that the western models monopoly on the erotic is hugely overdrawn, besides, on a less p.c. note it is probably wise to get to know your adversary.

Another series of 24 nudes are clearly based on art-history, history pieces and scenes with the intriguing constant that the actually nude is NOT THERE.The final series seem to portray 12 canonnic philosophers and another 12 portraits of attractive females. Would this be a gallery of former contacts?

Analogous to Douglas Adams’s  ‘Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy’  I know that the answer is 168 (in this case) but what was the question again?

I am intrigued.

I decide to approach the artist for a guided tour of his studio.

An hour before we are due to meet I board a subway to the South of Rotterdam, exit on an elevated platform that leads to a grubby street and stroll to the door I believe to be the entrance to the artists studio. As I extend my finger to press a small broken bell button -wires exposed and held together with chewing gum-  a hooded character growlingly offers me ‘a deal I can’t refuse’, a toothless hooker shuffles by, pairs of piercing eyes lust for my brand new sneakers. A damp smelling staircase with worn down carpet leads me to a door that is left ajar and a faint smell of ganja and turpentine wavers. Inside a bulky figure clad in dressing gown and slippers is reclined on a ragged coach, empty beer cans and bottles, squeezed tubes of acrylic and dead pizza’s scattered around . He snarls a harsh ‘fuck off’ and gestures for me to close the door.The walls are covered with images of a perfect circle on a monochrome background, the title ‘altruistic convergence’ scribbled beneath it, and, a pattern of purple criss-cross lines on a dark grey fond entitled ‘holistic doom’. There is something wrong here,  ‘Piss off”, I hear , followed by a reverberating belch. I check my notepad; ‘’Yup, wrong stop’’!

Way overdue I arrive in Heyplaat, the pearl of the South, once a shipyard village build on socialist principles. The studio I enter is large, high-ceilinged with an elevated well heated entresol full of the latest wifi technology, a lounge and kitchen utility.The view through the large window elevated over a vast expanse of water -a harbour basin in disuse- is staggering. Gulls gawk and ducks quack as a monumental ocean liner ploughs through the horizon in the distance. On the far left the sun tries desperately not to set, turning red in despair, colouring the low hovering clouds a luminescent orange. To break the ice, and knowing my theory of additive colour – where mixing orange with blue invariably results in a murky brown- I offer that it must be difficult to paint such a view within the limits of oil colour technique.

He gives me a bemused condescending look:

‘Not at all, landscape is one of the easiest things, as long as there is some sort of horizon, the picture will be recognised as landscape, the rest is freewheeling.Besides, truth is to be found in the confrontation between the individual and the subject, not in the subject itself,  and if you look closely, there is a certain residue of brown in the sunset you see at  this moment, as is there cyan, magenta and yellow, and all of its variations. What YOU see is not  all there is. As for limited technique;  I have always believed that a large part of the beauty of a picture arises from the struggle which an artist wages with his limited medium’

Feeling slightly dissed, I launch a nasty one: Your latest series of work contains a large variety of quotes or even direct copies, what is your theory on that.

‘I have simply wished to assert the reasoned and independent feeling of my own individuality within a total knowledge of tradition. I work without a theory and I am driven by an idea which I really only grasp as it grows with the picture.’

The next answer is another obligatory one liner:

‘One starts with an object, one doesn’t start from a void. Nothing is for free. As for abstract art, it seems to me that starts from a void, it has no power, no inspiration, no feeling, it defends a non-existent point of view; it imitates abstraction’

I realise that this interview form is going nowhere. We decide to open a bottle of wine and join forces in discussing  the opposition between autonomous and pseudo-heteronymous art, this is what we came up with:

We agree that during the 17th to 19th century literature was the dominant art form, and the depictive arts were largely literary in content. Modernism was an effort to reject that mimesis, yet still a painter did not put up a play in a gallery and call it a painting, or exhibit his easel and call it art. Criteria for quality were based on aesthetics and the quality or nature of suggestion of movement within the art work. Art did NOT move.Art was there to replace the mundanity of existence with something more satisfying by suggestion – through representation.

This is definitely a lot better, we are really getting into the linear development here.

First we have a bit of a laugh: Abstract-expressionism is arguably the last modernist stance. In the 70’s An artist called Siri produced paintings which inspired art critic Jerome Watkins to write about their ‘flair and decisiveness and originality’, Willem de Kooning found them to be; ‘ very lyrical, very, very beautiful, positive and affirmative and tense….so graceful, so delicate’. Siri is an Indian elephant! On which De Kooning responded with; ‘That’s a damned talented elephant’.

Of course all hell broke loose with Duchamp and his infamous pissoir, which created a new order of confusion and catapulted art theory through a dialectic process of deduction and trial and error. To a temporary state of suspension of traditional criteria.

Art came to be an object from which the name art cannot logically be withheld. No argument was available to refute the designation. (O thou evil spirit of alcohol, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil) The inability to deny status is a negative logic, but not necessarily detrimental to the canonical forms or to the development of the arts. The neutralisation of criteria opens up the field to a proliferation of new art forms. Warhole’s mimicry of a media conglomerate  leads to a position of post-conceptualism with the acceptance of the claim that there is an art form which is not a work of art. The notion that an event could have the same kind of artistic status as an object

The artist becomes the post-artist, the ultimate dilettante!

An abundance of artists of various plumage continue to chirp, croon, cackle or sway their song heedless of which egg mother hen the art critic is hatching. Art has liberated itself from art critique and is the perpetual zombie, the un-dead.

The confusion in the arts, then, is mainly a confusion in the realm of art theory and  partly semantic

There is agreement that art  concerns itself with quality and that when a work of art attains a level of quality, their practical utility expands exponentially and becomes incalculable, unpredictable and indefinable. It has no purpose that can be known for certain in advance. And this unanticipated, undeclared and unadmitted purpose is what the autonomy of art is grounded on and may give it its value in constantly modernising and organising society.

Perhaps visual (depictive) artists may simply concentrate on their own problem of quality and become less concerned with culture, and the more heteronymous culture worker may professionalise his mimesis and absorb into the broad field of design and management.

We reach that point in the heated conversation where silence falls, there is a slight embarrassment. I look at the wall covered with 144 vivid images: Mr Breevoort seems to have come round full circle in his mimesis of modern classics.

Trevor Pobetree  2009


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IEGEL up and running

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