Inside the Studio

Ad van Riel

Favorite material to work with?
Paint. The substance itself, the colors, the speed of drying, the dripping, the flowing, the transparency, the thickness, the sound of brushes. I just love it.

What themes do you pursue?
The theme I follow now is my “Paradises of paint”, the landscapes of my imagination. In the paint itself all kind of figures and forms reveal themselves. I wipe them out or let them stay. I started it in 2005 as a sidetrack with another theme: “Images of ordination and survey”.The way of working is practically the same. In all the years of being an artist there has always been that need of creating a world of my own.

How many years as an artist?
28 Years now.

Sketchbook? Do you use one? What type?
I make little notes and drawings, ideas are written down, collect photos and images, have a large stock of “typical” images. I use these images as memories during work. I find them in magazines, newspapers, leaflets. Earlier I had a photo collection skies and clouds. I still use it sometimes for my painted skies.

Most important tool you use?
My imagination.

Where is your studio?
My painting studio is at my home, a small apartment in the suburbs of The Hague (Leidschendam), where I use one bedroom and the walls of the living room. My other studio where I keep my stock and make the larger paintings is in The Hague.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
The best advice was from an art academy where I was told to stop painting because it was all worthless. That was 4 months before my graduation. It gave me an enormous power to go on and to feel prepared for the separation from the institute. Perhaps it was told on purpose? Never asked.

Process> Concept or Process<Concept
I really do not care about that.

Why do you make art?
I know no other way to express what is in my head, in my thoughts, in my views, in my imagination. Writing a book is not an option to me on this. I cannot stop that it has become a part of who I am. It is the way how I look at myself and the world in general.

Art school or self-taught?
Both, when I was about 20 I thought I did not need any school to be an artist. I was one already. Later on I discovered that art academy is a necessity to become an artist with skills, knowledge, vision and a drive that is close to yourself. There is a big difference between feeling like an artist and being one. An art academy is an institute, an environment you need to explore your talents to the ultimate depths and heights. Real art begins after that period, after the degree. Many paintings and drawings of my amateur period I have burnt ritually. No regrets on that, it was all about creativity and decoration. But some are still worth to look at.

Favorite font?
The Arial Black, I have all my work titled with it on the backside.

There are so many other nice ways to express your love or identity. In a sense it is very introvert.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
In silence. Sometimes soft piano music or Indian violin music. The last one is hard to find, by the way. The silence of the night I like very much, close to dawn. But not very practical for the social interactions and the work and living I have to make.

Everyone has a vice. Care to call yourself out?
My emotions and feelings are very intense.  Hard to deal with sometimes. For myself and others.

What’s around the corner from your place?
A large park with trees and birds.

Favorite sound?
Birds of any kind. There are ,any seagulls here, but also parakeets and thousands of crows, who settle down every evening in the big trees in front of my studio window. Their sound is electrical, like an old radio or a synthesizer.

Favorite smell?
Sweet smelling flowers like roses, hyacinths and lilies. But also the scent of pipe-tobacco and cannabis. Herbs. Tomato leafs (!!!!). Rotting wood, the smell of soil and mushrooms.

Where can we find you outside the studio?
Riding my bike to work and do my shopping, visit the city-terraces in summer, swimming, visiting friends and family.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
The idea of being a vagabond always attracted me.

Day job?
Teaching design at a school for interior stylists.

Food or sleep?
Food (especially with tomato in it).

Greatest achievement?
My open mind and creativity.

Finish the sentence: “I would never be caught dead….”
without a smile on my face.

Would you rather be able to make a living as an artist now or become famous after you die?
Rather make a living of it now. After my death I can no longer enjoy painting.

Were you popular in high school?
Yes, I was the class clown, a  jester for popular people.

Would you rather see your art on a t-shirt or on a billboard?
My art is meant for everyone. Every finished painting can find its way into the world. No matter on what it is printed.

Would you ever figure model naked?
Sure, why not.

Religion or pop culture?
Is this a choice? Religion and ideology are for anxious people and the culture of pop is too much something of nothing, empty shells without content. And religion is too…..

Traditional or conceptual?
Conceptual without losing the roots of tradition.

What do you collect?
I collect Living Stones, small succulent plants. I grow them from seed and succeed to get them to flower with me. They are so beautiful in colors. They need ample water or food, so that is easy to take care of. For me it is a way of gardening on the two square meters of the sunny balcony of my home.

Favorite contemporary artist?
Raquel Maulwurf, Levi van Veluw, Zang Xiaogang, Andreas Schön.

A piece of art you love?
Jean Fouquet: The Holy Virgin and the Jesus child (Melun dyptich), 13th Century Pop-Art with Post-Modern colors.

Which living or dead artist would you most like to meet?
Francis Bacon or Jeroen Bosch. I feel connected to both

Is painting dead?
No, painting as an art form is not dead, it is perhaps fallen asleep. Painting images is not the goal. That road is truly a dead end, because producing images has become a skill for everyone and that is a very good thing. The image is democratized. Painting should reinvent itself again and again. It is one of the oldest crafts there is and all possibilities and variations are known to us. But there is always a way out: Your own. That truly personal system of making new images with that old, sticky, amorphous and dirty material called paint. Figurative or not, does not matter. It has to come close to skin.

Favorite brush?
The DA VINCI – GRIGIO Synthetics, nr. 12

Painting Inside or Outside?
Always inside, in my home studio or in my studio in the City.