Monday, August 22, 2016


Here's a story from Joost de Jonge, a Dutch artist whose work I first came upon through his paintings. I soon discovered that, while he is clearly a fine painter, his interests range much further. His ever-widening Ekphrasis Project engages poets from throughout the world in a provocative dialogue between two media, words and paint; and more recently I have been receiving evocative images, such as the one below, of installations that juxtapose his abstract paintings with "real life" objects such as flowers, antique furniture, ceramics, and so on--some of which, as I understand it, have intimate family connection, and others, a rich tapestry of art historical reference (note the "Sunflowers"). Indeed, Joost's understanding of his role and career as an artist is very much about making connection--between media and people, past and present, reaching out with incessant creativity. You can find out more about him here

And here's his "boyhood memory":

Comic book of the forest princess
by Joost de Jonge

I recall a Saturday afternoon. It is regular grey weather with gloomy skies with a patch of blue here and there. Henry, who is in my class, lives in a long street with uniform houses for one family on either side, a long trace of terraced houses. If you are facing the river though, on the left side there is also a high-rise complex and a single villa, about every two blocks of terraced houses, separating those blocks of houses.

The school from our childhood is at the same street, near the intersection. I’m on my bike, looking at the birds and the sky, especially the clouds seem to take over my thoughts and engulf me in a strange way, with expanding bulbs of grey-bluishness.

I must have been about twelve or thirteen years old, a boy really. I have a comic book in the biggest pocket of my denim jacket. It is a crazy comic book, with explicit drawings of a forest princess. She has a giant centipede satisfying her. Her vagina is a great bush with a large clitoris, like a bell. In each sequence of images you can see her tits with hard nipples. Her mouth looks like she’s wearing lipstick, thickly applied. She is a dream of a babe; thinking about sex without an end… yes this is what we want!

I’m already aroused by the thought of what my friend Henry may say when he sees the explicit drawings. We were good boys, good friends and as good friends do at this age, we share our stash of photos of hot chicks, mainly Playboy and Penthouse, and masturbate, sometimes together. I remember that Penthouse was the best and hard to get in those days where we lived in the countryside.

Ringing the doorbell, his mother opens the door. Henry is upstairs in his room, so I walk up the two flights of stairs to his room. As I knock on his door, I notice how strongly it smells up there, of clean laundry, which they hang out to dry above the stairs. Somehow that smell still arouses me. We greet each other. Without a word I take out the magazine. The cover says it all.

He leafs through it and unbuttons his pants. “Wait,” I tell him, “It is an exchange. Where are your erotic magazines?”  From underneath his bed he grabs a roll of shiny centerfolds, covered in prints of greasy fingers, still a bit sticky. With a feeling of aversion and excitation I take the roll from him. I position myself in an opposite corner of his bedroom and take it out as well.

Joost de Jonge, “Composition 2014-2016”, acrylics & oils on panel, 48 x 48 x 2 inch, 2016

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