Utrecht, The Netherlands
9-10 March 1997
Hosted by Jan Berghuis
There is only one conclusion possible after visiting the Salon 1997, on the weekend of March 9 and 10: it was far too short of time. It was a workshop for more than hundred painters from fifteen different countries, like Israel and the United States of America. It was so inspiring, the days should have been longer.
Another swift worker was the American Patrick Kirwin, specialist in illustrations. This time he showed his special grisaille-technique. While all the others slaved to produce one piece just in nick of time before dinner, he did three marvelous pieces. It almost was unbelievable how a rough, with fierce strokes kind of sketch visible changed and grew to a very detailed and fine piece, as if it was hundreds of years old. That is if the paint should have been dry. There was a special exhibition room on the Salon 1997 where excellent pieces of the grandmaster Gray were to be seen, like decorated tables and boxes. Piece by piece they were obtained from Ikea and mostly did not cost anymore as fl. 25,-- (guilders)(±10 Euro). One can only believe it when one opens the drawers and spots the shabby, poor cardboard. Don Gray is obviously amused by the effect it had on the spectator
Amongst the representatives from Scandinavia are Lotta Olsson and her colleague Mats Carlsson. Both work full-time with their company/school Palm Fine Arts in Norrköping, Sweden (150 km south of Stockholm). They learned from old master Stellan Palm (now at age of 80), who was one of the few masters who still practiced the old techniques. Lotta herself is specialized in the light greenish marble found in Sweden. Imitations of this are often applied at church benches and pulpit.
Old techniques are a new fashion. This is not due to the disappearing functionalism. These tendencies like the Bauhaus (Mies van der Rohe) and De Stijl (Rietveld), have significant straight lines, a lot of glass and typical abstraction. They mutually influenced each other. They banned the ornament as being an ugly appendix with no use of value. Nowadays people tend to think different about it. The present New Age -style goes strongly back in time to the Art-Deco (from the 1920). The revival of old techniques is also made possible and more accessible through new materials and techniques. Joris Arts, co-organizer of the Salon 1997, showed in a special workshop how to get the optimum results with easy to use, modern products based on acrylics, the so-called water-paints. One can hardly believe that his/this slow drying acryl gives you the equal result as one uses the old oil-products. But the many exquisite samples proved its positive manner.
Top of the bill
Jan Berghuis jr. explained the grisaille technique. Developed by the all Dutch and famous Gerard de Lairesse, and his contemporary craftsman Jacob de Wit (after him people called grisailles Witjes). The thought behind a grisaille is to fake plaster ornaments with paint. After an explanation his (Jan Berghuis jr.) show-case was revealed. It appeared to be a piece painted partly in advance with assistance of students of the fourth-grade of the Nimeto. Here was a complete painted ceiling which was the supreme ending of a successful day. The decorations of the big cornice were that of a laurel tree, branches and leaves bonded together by a laurel-wreath. The Roman style was this time connected to the Empire (about 1800). Baroque paintings uses more Acanthus leaves, therefore this was a unique use of grisaille. The Trompe l'oeil in the middle suggests a nice company that leans over the edge looking onto the spectator. They obviously make a contrast to the heaven-blue sky inspired on the works of the late-nineteenth century Dutch/English painter Sir Lawrence Alma Tandem. He had numerous admirers in London during the Victorian time. The apparently peaceful blue-sky is only a sham. This company is far from pleasant. On the left is the Roman Emperor Heliogabalis, who reigned between 218 - 222 at the age of 18. Important opponents died the Rose death by throwing loads of roseleaves and rosebuds over them until death became their part. On the right you will spot two slaves doing the disconsolate act.
The surprisingly intermezzo around the diners was typical for the atmosphere and organization of the Salon 1997. Like the spontaneously singing Viking Benny Carlsson and Swedish friends. It was carefully planned and organized by Jan Berghuis jr. and Joris Arts.
In a international company a lot of surprises and information comes to surface. Like Pierre Finkelstein from New York (of whom one can value his outstanding work on the color leaflet). Originally a painter of adverts and writings behind glass. Nowadays we judge these techniques as being pre-historical but overseas it is still very popular. From this angle he became interested in decorating techniques. This resulted in a study at the Van der Kellen School for Decorative Arts in Brussels. In 1990 he was decorated by the French Government as being the best craftsman in France. Nowadays he decorates, in cooperation with an interior architect, houses of numerous famous people and collector of precious antiques and old arts. Like all the other participants of Salon 1997 he demonstrated his very renowned best and answered many questions in French (originally he is from France) as well as in English during his attentive painting.