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  • Writer's pictureNick Pike

Van Gogh/Munch inspired Self Portrait

contemporary art portrait

'Nick' - Oil on boxed canvas (90 x 90cm)

Painted after a trip to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, where the 'Munch:Van Gogh' exhibition showed self portraits of the two artists looking stern and miserable; I wanted to capture a contemporary version of myself like this, in the midst of painting, with my dressing gown on...

The Munch : Van Gogh exhibition was a fascinating insight into the two artists who were moving in the same circles and both created bodies of work that resonated with their difficult, troubled lives. This is the first time such an exhibition has taken place, although 20 years ago at college I actually did my final thesis 'The Tortured Artist' on Munch, Van Gogh and Egon Schiele!


A great place to stay..


Where to visit..

De Negen Straatjes or ‘The Nine Streets’ was the most picturesque, cultural and atmospheric place we visited and the pink building (below) makes an appearance in the 'Nick' portrait...

as does my drawing board!


The setting is almost as artistic outside as in, with cyclists able to ride straight through the entrance of the grand building; a controversial decision at the time but a thoughtful integration of what I found one of the biggest cultural differences - having to carefully navigate a constant stampede of rusty bicycles that litter the city, in an adorable way...

Seeing Vermeer's and Rembrandt's masterpieces were obvious highlights but my favourite painting was without doubt 'The Singel Bridge at the Paleisstraat in Amsterdam' by George Hendrik Breitner, 1896.

It's one of the finest Impressionist paintings I've seen (a photo really doesn't do it justice). You get a feeling of the coldness and warmth, stories unfolding and the mysterious lady in the foreground. To some degree, I couldn't understand how the painting worked so well, as this ladies face would ordinarily take focus away from the rest of the picture. The clever trick Breitner employed was to put a veil over her face so you see it, but it doesn't necessarily take centre stage.

This scene is also from the aforementioned De Negen Straatjes area, which is perhaps also why I have such an affinity with the picture. The next Amsterdam inspired painting I do will be from this area in the twilight hour, watch this space...

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