You have been a mail artist for 20 years, how have you approached the eternal network?
A little correction if I am allowed: I am an artist for 20 years and about 11-12 years mailartist. After studying at the Maastricht School of Art and Design I became a regular exhibitant of many solo and groupexhibitions in the netherlands and abroad.
I started my projectmailartbooks by sending selfmade blanc little booklets made of wrappingpaper to artists I knew and that expanded very rapidly into a huge mailartproject. As a thank you I made and still make returnbooklets for he participating artists. Some have been waiting for their returnbooklet for a way too long time. When inspiration runs dry it is hard to create, but from time to time I still make them. All will eventually receive a returnbooklet. From one project came the other and the other and so on.
The way of the world, shall we say? One of my biggest and most succesfull projects is Gogyoshi art Project international, which changed its name to Genuine Art Projects international (GAPI). I run this project together with artists Fred van Welie and Carmen Heemels. The project was based upon to gogyoshi by Japanese poet Taro Aizu who based his poems in that period of time, on the Fujushima disaster.
We exhibited in many countries and especially in the Republic of Korea with great thanks to our GAPI ambassador to the Republic of Korea: Yoo Choong Yeul. The project even went to The Islamic Republic of Iran for exhibitions, which was very special and we made many friends over there too. I also initiated the Selfportrait Drawing Community as an answer to the selfieculture that was on the rise.
Of course many mailartists may know me of my succesful Used Coffeefilter Mailart project. With this project I had several editions with many, many participating artists. As we speak I am in the proces of creating the catalogposter for the latest exhibition of the project. Also every participant recieves an envelope with a original collage and stamped artwork. Also every envelope will have the name and address in another font. That takes some time, but I am already almost halfway with the envelopes.
A really fun project!!!
Of course I participated in countless mailartprojects by many artists from all over the world which lead to exhibitions in countless countries. I have come to notice that Italy is a very mailart loving country. Many projects have been born there. Maybe no surprise with all the culture and arts that were made great in Italy.
There are so many different souls in mail art, taking inspiration by surrealism, dadaism or fluxus. Which one are you more close to?
Surrealism, dadaism and fluxus are all influences I underwent, but especially in my collages, surrealism is the closest to me, although I like all styles. I ike to have a point and a counterpoint in all my art.
I also like it when there is a little story to be found, how ever small it may be to me, but that is something I like to search for or put into my art. The main attraction, maybe, to mailart: you can do anything you like in any style you prefer at that moment. Mailart is the least formal of all arts, so it seems. It is the most playful art I know.
It is in mailart where one can experience the most experimental. Or at least so it seems to me. Many may disagree and that’s fine.
I noticed that you preferer using collage in your jobs. Which other technique you like using ?
Collage is just one, cheap, way of creating. I do many stamps too as well as little paintings and photography or combinations of sorts. Collages are fun to do and very surprising because the proces of creating starts flowing in different directions than planned.
Sometimes or maybe even most of the time, a mistake takes the collage to a different level and that is exciting to me. I think I want have a smile at the end of every collage. In my painting and drawings I am much more “dark”, “formal” and “serious”. There is that point and counterpoint again…
You have been a painter since you were 12 years old, have you been inspired by a particular artist? What are your favourit subjects?
I started young as a drawer and painter. After time it disappeared but luckily it came back to me and I started taking artlessons and went on to the School of Arts and Design in Maastricht, the Netherlands. I have had and still have lots of artists I admire.
I would almost say “of course” the old masters Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh. But there are more: Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Mimo Palladino, Howard Hodgskin, Per Kirkeby, Joseph Beuys and Basquiat to name some of the most famous ones that come to mind as I answer your question.
You carried out a lot of projects, I remember the video one regarding the coffee pods. Which are the projects that you have found more interesting?
Well the Used coffeefilter project, the selportrait drawing community, project mailartbooks, Genuine Art Projects international(GAPI) and Poetea have probably been the most succesfull measured in participating artists and exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad.
It is hard if not impossible to say one of them or one of the other projects is the most interesting, because all are or have been interesting to some degree, but I will try to answer your question anyway. Used coffeefilter has probably been the most playful and funny one, I guess.
GAPI is the most exciting one because of the subject we started out with: Fukushima. Although the project is non-political there is a bit of politics in the artworks participating and that is unavoidable, but also really great. The selfportrait drawing community bonded a lot of people by drawing. That was an amazing experience as well and is still continuing as we speak.
Maybe it is about time to regenerate this project. Let me think about that for a little while. Poetea, a combination of poetry and teabags, was a smaller project but very nice to do. But also the HHAP projects were very great to do.
Did you make some live performance in these years?
I performed a role in the movie “I, Captain Yoo”, which I edited too. It is a movie by Paulo Duarte Filipe, starring Yoo Choong Yeul. I had the pleasure of visiting the Republic of Korea where we shot that movie.
I performed playing a guitar to accompany Dutch artist Carmen Heemels during a poetry event, but I am not a real performance artist. I do enjoy it very much watching artists perform.
It can be very confronting and “in your face”, loud and sweet and inviting to participate. A great performance has all motions come together, I guess.
Did you meet some of the mail artists you’ve been in contact with?
I have met a lot of artists in the Netherlands and abroad because I travelled to several countries to participate in several exhibitions. I have not knowingly met a lot of mailartist, if my memory serves me well, but Piet Franzen and Ko de Jonge stick out. Most certainly Piet Franzen simply because both Carmen Heemels and I took over several mailartprojects of his. Carmen showed some of them in her KunstSalon Kasteel Daelenbroeck non-profit artspace.
One day in the Great Sky I will meet all ?.
How is the mail art scene in The Netherland? Is there any young artist you are currently following?
The mail art scene in the Netherlands is flourishing. A lot of people are involved in one way or another. Mr. Colorri as well as Ruud Janssen of the IUOMA are, in my humble opinion, the most reknown mailartists in the Netherlands.
Behind HH TP acronym, a long lasting collab is disclosed. Can you comment about it?
HHAP stand for Heemels and Hanssen Art Productions. It is a cooperation between Dutch artist Carmen Heemels and myself. Together we generated several artprojects. We are best known for our “Collected” project. It is all about poetry. Poets send us their poems and create a video of all these poems as we read them aloud or leave that to Google. On Youtube you can find several videos of this project.
We also did projects by exhibiting together and somehow respond to each others artworks. Some projects are about us doing things similtaneous at different places or at the same places. Whatever suits best fort he project.
We also participated in two feature movies by Paulo Duarte Filipe: “I, Captain Yoo” and its follow up “When the stars shin, the captain smiles”. I subject some videolinks of our HHAP-project on Youtube:
(1) HHAP COLLECTED 25 POEMS part 1 – YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqQk0TUzH3Q (You Me Sea)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmMgnJ0xITI (Passage, a project for Skulpturenweg, Linnich, Germany)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFxYYqR9gbg&t=4s (I, Captain Yoo)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRGZ08ZDOy8&t=142s (When the stars shine, the captain smiles. A movie for which I did the rough editing and both Carmen and me had a little role in)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSeDcgsd0G4 (The road we take)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqFsxKp2dXM (The wind, the corn, the feeling)
What are you plans for the future?
Will you arrange other exhibitions?
Right now I am busy with things outside of art, athough I am, as I mentioned before, busy with the postercatalog and envelopes for the Used Coffeemailartproject. I have no other mailartproject fort he moment, but that can change very quickly. So I don’t know. For sure I will participate in projects by others. I am looking forward to the catalog of the Lukas Cranach project by Ingo Cesaro in which I took part, for my contribution will be the cover of the catalog. That was a big surprise to me.
For exhibitions…….. be surprised. ?
Thank you very much for interviewing me for your FANZINE “IN YOUR EYES”.
It is an honour! I wish you the best of luck with all you do.