On Saturday the 9th of September TORCH will start a new season of art with Paintings, an exhibition of new work by Dutch painter Philip Akkerman. For Paintings, Akkerman has collaborated with the well known graphic designer Dennis Koot, who has designed a series of 'Frames' based on Philip's most recent works. These frames deconstruct and unhinge Philips paintings on panel until they become wild, vector-based installation pieces. The Friday before the opening of Paintings will mark the launch of Château Akkerman, a special bock-style beer brewed by the Amsterdam based brewery Oedipus in collaboration with the artist. The festive launch will take place from 5pm on the 8th of September at the Oedipus Taproom and will include a tasting, an artist talk and music by DJ Akkerman.
Philip Akkerman has built a reputation as a fearless and relentless painter of self-portraits during the last 35 years of his career. Day after day he takes place behind his easel and starts painting like he is playing jazz. He has mastered the techniques, knows his subject matter inside out and lets the paint set the tone. The resulting works differ wildly. He uses series of paintings to examine how the old masters wielded their brushes, mixed their paint and applied their grisailles. His painterly gestures briefly transport him to their studios to finally emerge with a personal and strictly contemporary painting. He uses this painterly freedom to discredit the Art Historical thought that painting has a theoretical and chronological point of closure.
Although he certainly has his favourites and his clunkers, everything he paints gets to leave the studio to meet the judgement of the public. With these criteria in mind, he has built an oeuvre that is immense for contemporary standards. With over 4000 portraits painted to date, it seems like he wants to compete with his admired 17th-century Dutch masters in terms of volume. They too had artistic freedom through a dedication to technique and had an extraordinary amount of autonomy of being as a result of the recently establish private market for art. Akkerman's almost monomaniac repetition of his subject and his lack of selective judgement reminds one of conceptual artists like On Kawara, Hannah Darboven and his personal favorite Stanley Brouwn. Philip combines the theoretical achievements of these artists and combines them with the tradition and work ethic of the Genre painters. Using the self-portrait he paints the history of painting and reflects on the contemporary sense of self along the way.
Even Château Akkerman can be seen as a self-portrait. Philip has helped develop the palette of flavours and the label bears the signs of a refined Bordeaux for the upper class mixed with those of a rural vin de table . Oedipus used these elements to create a pleasant Bock style beer for heavy drinkers with a strong sense of taste. Château Akkerman( Bock, 6,5%) is a bottom cropped beer with notes of caramel and toast contrasted with the grassy flavours of hop. Philip created a set of three drawings that will be used for three sets of limited-edition labels. Château Akkerman will be the first beer in a series of collaborations between Oedipus and the artists of TORCH.
Akkerman' s work shows us that painting is not dead. It is alive and vital. His work is bursting with painterly pleasure. The underlying character is serious and at times grave. The painter says: " The goal of life is to make a self-portrait"
Philip Akkerman (1957, Vaassen), lives and works in The Hague, The Netherlands. His work is represented by Bravinlee Programs from New York, Guido Costa Projects in Turin, Italy and TORCH gallery in Amsterdam.