Exposition in the Museum in Lajes do Pico
Here is some background information:
The ‘Horizons’ project is a reflection of my lonely voyages at sea. At such travels the horizon is a constant companion. For weeks you are staring at it, looking for signs of life to emerge. After a while the fatigue kicks in and one begins to hallucinate. Clouds turn in to monsters, pirate ships appear at the horizon, with full sails going against the wind, sunsets become distant city lights and waves turn in to sea nymphs. The sea turns into a mystical place.
In the year 2000, after returning from my first sailing trip to the Azores where I almost drowned I decided to start all over, reinventing painting from scratch. I wanted to get away from the image, from the painting as a window, away from the pressure of history and from my own ambitions. I began with a question that my friend, the painter Peter B. Van Houten, formulated some 30 years ago: can you paint a blue sky in such a way that you see depth in the color? The longer I thought about this question the more significant it became. The sky is blue, so at first sight the only thing a painter can do is paint a blue surface. A painting of a blue sky is not an abstract painting. It is as realistic as it can be, yet it has no subject. But how to paint such a sensation?
The solution, I found, was to paint in layers. Through many thin layers of primary colors I would end up with a soft blue image of the sky, that, because of the fact that the light breaks on the many levels of paint really gives the impression of a deep blue sky. This felt like a discovery: realistic suggestion of space, but without a subject. I started a whole series of these paintings. Gradually they developed in to seascapes: water below, sky above. After a while, just like when travelling at sea, structures began to emerge at the horizon; at first only vague, but later the paintings morphed in to explosions of color and structure.
Then I got stuck. I wanted to create more structure, preserving the sensation of depth, but as soon as I used curved lines or diagonal lines, the depth impression was gone. I made and destroyed many a painting working my way out of this conundrum.
The breakthrough came one day around Christmas 2011 when I covered a failed painting with white gesso to start all over again. Just for fun I began to scratch the canvas with the back of my brush in the wet gesso. The effect was stunning. The back of the brush pushes the paint away leaving a kind of road with little white banks. One can go over the structure as many times as one likes and one can make lines as long as one likes. The result had an eerie 3D effect that I have never seen before. I immediately realized that I had found a potential goldmine, but it would take time to conquer this domain. Only after my decision to relocate my studio to the island of São Jorge on the Azores in 2015 I found in Santo Antonio, on the lonely slopes of Pico Esperanza, at 600 m above sea level, the atmosphere of quietness and concentration that allowed me to explore this new territory.
Pieter Adriaans, Manadas, January 2016