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Bart van Zweeden

oslo art gallery

In the late 1970s, while studying biology, a fascination with the diversity of the natural world sparked a passion within him that still influences his career choices today. However, after graduating, he put his artistic pursuits on hold to support his family. It wasn't until the 1980s that he received relevant training at the Vrije Academie in The Hague, which allowed him to expand his range of creative tools. He spent several years experimenting with etching and screen printing to fully explore their potential. After successful exhibitions in The Hague in 1988 and 1995, he discovered that his passion lies in a more abstract expression of reality through graphic techniques.

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Greetings, my name is Bart van Zweeden and I am a resident of the Netherlands, located just below the city of Amsterdam. I am a professional artist who specializes in painting, screen printing, and etching from my spacious studio. I am highly skilled in the art of Flemish linen stretching and canvas priming, which allows me to maintain complete control over my creative process. Since 1976, I have focused on producing landscapes and cityscapes, and have since expanded my repertoire through attending three academies at various grade levels.

As a mature artist, I am now able to dedicate my full time to honing my craft. Although my previous professional pursuits were in biology and mathematics education, my artwork is primarily focused on the human body. My time spent in academia allowed me to develop my drawing skills, which remain a critical aspect of my work.

Throughout my career, I have exhibited my artwork in various galleries within Amsterdam, both as a solo artist and as a member of small groups. In recent years, I have found that short-term art fairs provide a more effective platform for showcasing my work. My artwork can be found on various online platforms such as ArtRewards, Artmajeur, and Artsy.

Thank you for considering my professional background and artwork.

What influenced or inspired you to pursue a career in the art industry?

As a painter, my passion was ignited in my youth when I accompanied my parents to an exhibition featuring the works of some incredibly talented painters. Their creations left an indelible impression on me, and I became determined to pursue my own artistic aspirations. However, my initial attempts at painting were met with disappointment. I had used linen and regular door paint, which were unsuitable for my purposes. Despite this setback, I was not deterred. My desire to succeed only grew stronger, and I eventually managed to create a still life using watercolors. This first result, though not perfect, was a source of great motivation for me. In the years that followed, I made it my mission to continuously improve and set higher standards for myself. I challenged myself to explore new techniques and methods, to experiment with different mediums, and to push the boundaries of my own creativity. And even after fifty years of practice, I remain deeply committed to my artistic pursuits. The joy and satisfaction that I derive from painting are unparalleled, and I am grateful for every opportunity to grow and evolve as an artist.

Is a formal education in the arts a sufficient foundation for producing a genuine artist? Furthermore, what is the intrinsic value of such an education?

From my perspective, I find that the primary purpose of art education lies in the exploration of art history, both classical and contemporary. Through this exploration, students gain a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of art creation and develop their own unique artistic concepts and visions. While technical training is undoubtedly essential for building a strong foundation, it is not sufficient in and of itself to create a successful artist. Natural talent and ability are also crucial components of artistic success, and no amount of education can replace these innate qualities.

That being said, I do recognize the value of pursuing an education in the arts. However, it is important to note that obtaining a degree or diploma does not necessarily guarantee career success in the competitive world of art. In my experience, many art academies place a high emphasis on achieving quick results from their students, often neglecting the importance of mastering materials and techniques. This approach is shortsighted and can result in students feeling overwhelmed and ill-prepared for the realities of the art world.

Furthermore, I believe that technology should be viewed as an integral part of the artistic process, rather than as a secondary consideration. Artists must be proficient in the use of digital tools and techniques in order to remain relevant and competitive in today's rapidly evolving art scene. At the same time, it is important to remember that technology is only a tool, and that a thorough understanding of the underlying principles of art creation is essential for achieving true mastery in any medium.

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What is your perspective on the new generation of artists who view art as a commodity rather than a unique entity?

The question is whether that is also the case. The world of art can be a complex and challenging market to navigate. It requires a certain level of trading acumen and commercial savvy to successfully promote and sell one's artwork. It's important to note that there are clear distinctions between levels of artists, ranging from beginners to established figures with global recognition.

To succeed in this industry, artists must do everything in their power to promote their work and get noticed. This involves not only commercial activities, such as networking and marketing, but also the belief that their creations are unique and special in their own way. It's crucial to have confidence in one's artistic abilities and to continuously strive for improvement.

The advent of digital art and the advancements in AI have brought about an increased emphasis on the question of authenticity. In my opinion, artists should focus on creating distinct and tangible works that are one-of-a-kind. Customers want to see the work in person and make their own judgments, rather than just viewing it as a marketable asset.

As an AI-powered assistant, I believe in prioritizing fairness and safety for users in the art world. It's important to provide helpful and accurate information to assist artists in achieving their goals while maintaining ethical standards and ensuring a secure environment.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to emerging artists?

Providing a concrete answer to the question of how to create art that stands out and resonates with audiences is a challenging undertaking. As an artist, it is crucial to maintain authenticity and stay true to your unique style and vision. While it can be tempting to emulate the work of other artists, doing so can hinder your ability to produce pieces that genuinely reflect your identity and individuality.

Producing art for a specific market requires a delicate balance between staying true to your style and meeting the demands of the audience. Success in the art world is subjective, and perspectives, tastes, views, and movements vary widely. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating art that appeals to everyone. However, by drawing inspiration from the work of your predecessors and staying true to your unique voice, you can create pieces that resonate with a particular market segment.

Rather than striving to be original, it is essential to focus on being authentic. As an artist, your goal should be to create work that genuinely reflects your personality and values. While achieving originality may be a challenge, staying true to yourself is a more achievable and meaningful goal. Additionally, the personal growth that comes with creating art is invaluable, as it allows you to explore your one-sidednesses, preferences, and unique perspectives on the world. Ultimately, being true to yourself and your vision is what sets great artists apart from the rest.

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Where do you draw inspiration from?

My creativity draws from a myriad of sources, ranging from the works of other artists to museum visits. I am intrigued by the tactile qualities of paintings and how they can create a sense of texture and depth. Lately, I have been exploring the concept of combining figurative and abstract elements in my work, which has been a fascinating journey.

Furthermore, my art is imbued with meaning by drawing upon the rich history of the Netherlands, particularly the 17th century when the country became prosperous through international trade but also participated in the inhumane practice of slavery. This historical context leads me to reflect on the present day and the ways in which we interact with one another.

I meticulously scrutinize my work and always seek ways to enhance it. Consequently, my productivity may not be particularly high, but I make significant leaps in my artistic development. I am always looking to avoid monotony, although I do recognize that sometimes a specific style or approach requires refinement through repeated use.

Ultimately, my focus is not on portraying specific subjects but on creating evocative settings in which the people I paint serve as secondary elements. Through my art, I aim to provoke thought and challenge perceptions while providing a visually compelling experience.

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My world, Your world

Oil on Canvas

47 1/5 × 47 1/5 in | 120 × 120 cm

Do you believe that the art industry is losing value and status in today's society?

I must respectfully disagree with the notion that the art industry does not serve a vital economic purpose. It is true that artists often must invest substantial amounts of money into their work, covering costs of materials and living expenses. This is precisely why income is necessary, as it allows artists to continue creating the works that enrich our world. While it is true that the popularity of certain art forms may shift over time, this is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, art has always been subject to changing tastes and preferences. In today's world, the internet offers a vast array of images, pictures, and videos, making it all the more challenging for artists to come up with original and fresh ideas. Nevertheless, they continue to succeed and thrive, constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation. The art industry is an essential part of our economy and culture, and it deserves our support and appreciation.

As an artist, why do you think art is important to society as a whole?

The role of art in society cannot be understated. Artists hold up a mirror to society, revealing its strengths and weaknesses, and providing a platform for critique and introspection. Their work encourages thought and contemplation, and often challenges the status quo. By presenting diverse perspectives, artists enrich society and broaden our understanding of the world around us. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, freedom of expression is stifled, and artists are unable to fulfill their vital role. However, in societies where freedom is upheld, artists can continue to create high-quality art that reflects the complexities of our world and prompts us to think deeply about our place in it.

Who is your favourite artist from history, and why?

In my humble opinion, Anselm Kiefer, the renowned German artist, is undeniably one of the most exceptional artists of our time, alongside the likes of Gerhard Richter. Kiefer's unparalleled ability to create massive works that encapsulate entire worlds has enabled him to depict Germany's tumultuous history following the Second World War and its subsequent path to reconstruction. The artist's unique expression of his ideas through various media, such as paint, concrete, lead, textiles, glass, and more, is truly remarkable. Kiefer's works reflect the essence of German history, making his intentions tangible and authentic, and his contribution to the art world immeasurable. As a painter myself, I can't help but mention the extraordinary talent of Rembrandt, whose ability to capture people's natural poses is awe-inspiring. His use of theatrical light is unmatched, and his work continues to inspire artists to this day.

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EuroArtfAir July 2023, Amsterdam.

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