Jakarta Post

Please Update your browser

Your browser is out of date, and may not be compatible with our website. A list of the most popular web browsers can be found below.
Just click on the icons to get to the download page.

Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Video Weather icon 30°C
DKI Jakarta, Indonesia
30°C Partly Cloudy

Dry and mostly cloudy throughout the day.

  • Wed

    26℃ - 32℃

  • Thu

    25℃ - 32℃

  • Fri

    25℃ - 31℃

  • Sat

    26℃ - 30℃

Jeroen Hermkens: Capturing the Colorful Images

  • Annalise Bolt

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, January 30, 2015 | 11:18 am
Jeroen Hermkens:  Capturing the Colorful Images Portraits:: Hermkens paints three women of Indonesian origin, (left to right) Hilde, Ing Yoe and Elvira, who live in Holland" width="510" border="0" height="169">Portraits:  Hermkens paints three women of Indonesian origin, (left to right) Hilde, Ing Yoe and Elvira, who live in Holland

Bustling scenes of Jakarta are juxtaposed against images of quaint Dutch towns in Jeroen Hermkens’ paintings and lithographs.

The Dutch expressionist artist has created fleeting impressions of both Holland and Indonesia through his illustrations of imagined colors and places currently on display at the Erasmus Huis in Jakarta.

“I don’t believe in reality,” said Hermkens. “I think my reality is more important.”

Hinting at remnants of Holland’s colonial legacy in Indonesia, the exhibition shows the two cultures in contrast — connected only by Hermkens’ signature fluid brush strokes.

Jakarta's Bajaj (Courtesy of Erasmus Huis)

Portraits:  Hermkens paints three women of Indonesian origin, (left to right) Hilde, Ing Yoe and Elvira, who live in Holland

Bustling scenes of Jakarta are juxtaposed against images of quaint Dutch towns in Jeroen Hermkens'€™ paintings and lithographs.

The Dutch expressionist artist has created fleeting impressions of both Holland and Indonesia through his illustrations of imagined colors and places currently on display at the Erasmus Huis in Jakarta.

'€œI don'€™t believe in reality,'€ said Hermkens. '€œI think my reality is more important.'€

Hinting at remnants of Holland'€™s colonial legacy in Indonesia, the exhibition shows the two cultures in contrast '€” connected only by Hermkens'€™ signature fluid brush strokes.

Jakarta's Bajaj (Courtesy of Erasmus Huis)

Jakarta's Bajaj  (Courtesy of Erasmus Huis)

Holland'€™s characteristic scenes of canal houses and bicycles are displayed alongside colorful oil paintings of bajaj (three-wheeled motorized vehicles), street carts and motorcycles caught in Jakarta'€™s rain.

In his paintings of Jakarta, unlike those of other cities, he incorporates human figures. Some are busy at work at the harbor, hiding from the rain under umbrellas, or negotiating traffic on a motorcycle. All are anonymous shadows, personifying the bustling city.

'€œIt wasn'€™t easy to make paintings of Jakarta,'€ he said. '€œNormally I look for nice buildings, but the architecture is not so wonderful.'€

'€œI started making drawings of people walking in the rain and the bajaj, things like that. I have people in it, much more than in my other work, and I think that'€™s nice.'€

Born in 1960, Hermkens studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Utrecht and Atelier Lithografique Champfleury in Paris.

Travelling up to four times a year to places like Japan, Norway, America and Yemen, he has captured cities around the world through his art.

'€œI like to travel around very much because for me to paint is not enough,'€ he says. '€œI really want to feel the atmosphere of a country. What you see in my work is about atmosphere and not about reality.'€

Hermkens said he prefers to visit cities for a short period of time because '€œthe first impression is always the strongest'€.

'€œIn the beginning you see amazing things, then after two weeks you get used to it,'€ he said.

Jakarta'€™s '€œtremendous impression'€ on Hermkens was of '€œthe heat, the chaotic traffic and tropical storms from which one really must take shelter'€.

A celebrated artist in Europe, Hermkens won Artist of the Year in the Netherlands in 2006 and recently had his works exhibited at a solo exhibition at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.

In 2009, he was commissioned to travel around the world documenting the Dutch dredging company Van Oord'€™s work in his paintings. The project resulted in the Koos van Oord Art Collection, which premiered in Rotterdam in 2010.

Hermkens said that working for Van Oord gave him the opportunity to '€œtravel around the world for two years and earn a lot of money'€.

'€œIt'€™s of course not easy for an artist to earn his money,'€ he says.

Beyond the financial appeal of Van Oord, the atmosphere of their work inspired Hermkens.

'€œI think what they do is very interesting,'€ he said. '€œI love the machinery and the noise of the ships.'€

He first visited Jakarta last year, when his work from the Van Oord collection was shown during the presentation of the Garuda waterfront project.

The exploration of industrial work is carried on in his paintings of Jakarta.

He said he was particularly enchanted with Sunda Kelapa, which he describes as '€œone of the most beautiful harbors'€ he has ever seen.

'€œIt'€™s such a bright, beautiful place and so different from a lot of other parts of the city,'€ Hermkens said.

In one of his oil paintings, Sunda Kelapa III, aqua figures of workers are pulling at cables, dwarfed by enormous curved cargo ships. One worker stands on a small violet boat, reaching over the edge toward the dock.

Other pieces from the exhibition document the Dutch cemetery, Monas and Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, as well as scenes from Bogor and Bandung in West Java.

During his travels, Hermkens'€™ artistic practice involves sketching images on the street using Indian ink and a reed pen.

'€œ[When] I go somewhere '€” Tokyo, New York, Jakarta '€” I make like 30 drawings in a week, or maybe more even,'€ said the artist.

When he returns to Utrecht, he spreads his drawings on the floor and sometimes spends weeks thinking before transforming them into colorful paintings or lithographs '€” drawing inspiration both from his memories and his imagination.

These images contain only the core of the scenes that Hermkens wishes to express, excluding unwanted distractions from the real scene, like ads or cars. The elements that remain are distorted '€” the buildings lean, electric cables dominate and the colors are unconventional.

'€œIt'€™s not reality, what I do, so what you see in the exhibition, those spots don'€™t exist,'€ he said. '€œI make combinations of things. I focus on things that I think are more important than other things, so it'€™s my view of a city.'€

________________

'€” The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.

Comments