Interview with Robert Vanderhorst – Surrealist Painter

Robert Vanderhorst’s creativity propels us to squint and examine the original or the rational with intention. At that point, you discover the conflict, the unacceptable, the unpleasant or the hidden desire. The imagery gushes over, the psyche is liberated, and the visual stimulus unravels the nuances of our ideas and rules.  He is adept at bringing together various mental pictures into a fusion of tenacious conventions, compromised perceptions, and wavering imaginations. His capability to point out that impressions, symbols, and patterns have unrealized possibilities, rattles the viewer. Although he deliberately composes the uncertainties, the freedom of thought, choice and the inclination of progress orbit symbolically and eminently in his artwork.

This painting explores the concept of choice. The choices we’re presented, the ones we make, the ones we don’t and the ones that are made for us. Through these choices, we can either find our way or we can be ‘LOST. Two divers, who know each other from past adventures, find themselves in an unlikely environment swimming down an empty country road next to a farmer’s field. The scenery is bleak and grey with the only colour being a hint of silvery purple on the distant tree branches. The corn field next to the road had been long since been hacked down. Snow fills the furrows and the remaining bleached grasses at the roadside crackle as the wind shakes off thin shards of ice. A light snow is falling. One of the divers notices a series of repetitive rectangular shapes running along the tree line and begins heading across the field towards them. A set of doorways come into focus through the cold mist. The other diver stops, hovering above the dirt road. He’s confronted by a foreboding black carriage with two harnessed horses standing before him, motionless. The diver stares directly ahead and is transfixed by the stars in the universe that envelopes the darkness of the horse’s head. Where am I he wonders? What direction should I go?
Lost – By Robert Vanderhorst – This painting explores the concept of choice. The choices we’re presented, the ones we make, the ones we don’t and the ones that are made for us. Through these choices, we can either find our way or we can be ‘LOST. Two divers, who know each other from past adventures, find themselves in an unlikely environment swimming down an empty country road next to a farmer’s field. The scenery is bleak and grey with the only colour being a hint of silvery purple on the distant tree branches. The corn field next to the road had been long since been hacked down. Snow fills the furrows and the remaining bleached grasses at the roadside crackle as the wind shakes off thin shards of ice. A light snow is falling. One of the divers notices a series of repetitive rectangular shapes running along the tree line and begins heading across the field towards them. A set of doorways come into focus through the cold mist. The other diver stops, hovering above the dirt road. He’s confronted by a foreboding black carriage with two harnessed horses standing before him, motionless. The diver stares directly ahead and is transfixed by the stars in the universe that envelopes the darkness of the horse’s head. Where am I he wonders? What direction should I go?

 

Fate's Passage Robert Vanderhorst
Fate’s Passage Robert Vanderhorst – The scene takes place in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. At the end of the light dappled gravel path is the Museum of Natural History. The ‘Museum’ is on this side of the doorway, not through it. The mother and her young son are going out through ’Fate’s Passage’. As she exits, she slowly becomes the space around her. The man standing at the doorway is the museum’s greeter. The astronaut has recently arrived, confused but intrigued. Near the exit, the shadow of a stooped Churchill leans heavily on his cane and the grey figure of an arrogant Napoleon standing on the balcony both suggest that they been guests of the museum for quite some time. This ‘Museum’ is a spectre of our future. Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the place I was before “Relax, ” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave! ” Hotel California – The Eagles

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you got into art-

RV: My talent comes through my father’s side of the family. He was an artist/graphic artist in Holland, and he continued that profession after coming to Canada post-WWII. Once I understood that art was my passion, my career path was set. Seeing Dali and Magritte’s work for the first time cemented my love for surrealism.

VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part One by Robert Vanderhorst
VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part One by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: The fundamental principle in your creations-

RV: Exploration and mystery. Keep everyone thinking and guessing.

Jupilings: What is your perspective on life-

RV: Life is short. Be kind and generous, work hard and stay true to your passion, play when you can, travel and experience life as much as possible and keep your sense of humour intact.

The Immigrant Robert Vanderhorst
The Immigrant Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What do you sell in your art-

RV: To think outside the box.

VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part Two by Robert Vanderhorst
VIEW FROM THE GALLERY, Part Two by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What motivates you to create, is it an emotional state, philosophy of life, politics or advocacy- 

RV: A desire to create realistic imagery that engages, asks questions and searches for answers where the answers ask more questions.

Jupilings: What is your favourite subject to illustrate-

RV: Time and space.

MICOMICON by Robert Vanderhorst
MICOMICON by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What does “confusion” mean to you? Also, what about “Normality”-

RV: I’m most fond of one of my image titles, ‘And You Thought You Were Normal.’ Says what I need to about confusion and what we perceive as normal.

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you-

RV: Equality.

THE AMERICANIZATION OF GUSTAVE’S PARIS by Robert Vanderhorst
THE AMERICANIZATION OF GUSTAVE’S PARIS by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What are your tips about building a brand name as an artist-

RV: Develop a unique personal style and stay true to your art. Work your ass off, don’t compromise, network and promote using new and old technologies as much as possible.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt-

RV: Ignore it. Believe in yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish and ignore anyone who tells you it can’t be done.

Magritte's Dark Angel By Robert Vanderhorst
Magritte’s Dark Angel By Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: The disruptive blockchain technology is addressing the problems of transparency and authenticity for artists; it will increase art sales, democratize art investment, and last but not least allow artists to be fairly paid.  What are your thoughts about the blockchain technology especially in support of art? Would you consider using the blockchain technology platform to reach global art enthusiasts? What are the problems in your industry do you want these platforms to solve?

RV: I am not versed in this platform and at this stage not particularly interested in another tech learning curve. Everyone should be paid fairly and on time, artists, in particular, considering they are often taken for granted and put at the bottom of the list. If this tech addresses the issues you’ve stated above effectively, then I’m all for it.

Jupilings: What superpower you would like to have ? and why- 

RV: I’m happy as is.

Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the lead actor- 

RV: I was a Zombie in a George A. Romero film, and that was perfect for me. Don’t need to be a lead.

THE SENTINEL by Robert Vanderhorst
THE SENTINEL by Robert Vanderhorst

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

RV: Life is complicated. Keep your sense of humour and try not to be an ass.

In the Absence of Light Robert Vanderhorst
In the Absence of Light Robert Vanderhorst
COUNTERVAIL by Robert Vanderhorst
COUNTERVAIL by Robert Vanderhorst
THE YACHT CLUB by Robert Vanderhorst
THE YACHT CLUB by Robert Vanderhorst
ROBERT VANDERHORST
ROBERT VANDERHORST

 

Images: Lost & Fate Passage courtesy of Robert Vanderhorst, other images from Saatchi Art Gallery.

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