World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 147 - Peter Veltman

Peter Veltman is a painter ánd a photographer. He started painting, moved the emphasis ten years ago to photography, while he still painted, and now does mainly photography.

In his house in Amsterdam-North I see still-lifes in muted colors, one with brown storage busses, white funnels and a pair of antique curl skates that form a whole in a beautiful way, barns in decay that exude a lot of force and a brown boat wreck in the ice, a photo that could have been a painting as well.


It looks tight and powerful. "The composition is quite crucial in my way of working" says Peter Veltman. The objects in the still lifes overlap and sometimes melt together, both in color and form. "The abstract idea, also in a figurative painting, is important, I mean abstract values such as color and shape composition and, for example, rhythm and texture. But emotional load can also be important. These are hidden aspects of the quality of a painting. "

The compositions radiate peace and quietness, that is also the case with the photos. On the table is a photo book of his hand: 'Au Bois de mon Coeur, photos of the W.H. Vliegenbos (a city forest) in Amsterdam-North'. The title is named after a song by the French chansonnier Georges Brassens. "The 'Vliegenbos' is in between a wild park and a forest. Already in my early childhood I loved to wander around here and I still do that. Although the forest has undergone many changes over the course of time, I came across a hidden spot (forest pond) about four years ago that looked exactly like it looked sixty years ago, and that evoked the same mood to me as it was then. I made a picture of it that I was happy with. Then I started photographing there more and more. The number of photos has now risen to about eight hundred."

Mood and composition

On the table is also a photo book of Emmy Andriesse, which he had long sought after, but recently received. It is one of the photo book series 'Holland zonder haast' (Holland without rush), from publisher Voetnoot. With this he has complete the whole series. Other books in the series include Kees Scherer, Carel Blazer, Maria Austria, Henk Jonker, Sem Presser and Ad Windig. All with photos from the thirties, forties and fifties of the last century.

Veltman is a great fan of these photographers. The mood and the composition are important and the photos are layered, not unambiguous. This also applies to his photo work. When he started to photograph ten years ago, he joined the theme of his paintings. He painted a series of dilapidated barns. In his photography he also picked up this theme again: weathered windows, and walls, abandoned vehicles, shipwrecks, buildings and factory grounds.

People and animals

"As I started to photograph more, more subjects emerged. Actually, I do everything: landscapes, street photography, architecture and many 'casual' portraits of both people and animals, but hardly ever posed. The binding element is that all photos are very quiet and abandoned. In an often wistful and melancholic atmosphere. My last exhibition at Gallery WM in Amsterdam also had 'Een Stille Blik / A Silent Gaze', as a motto. "

The wide range of topics and themes is related to his working method. He goes on the road and photographs. I see pictures of a Turkish gentleman with his wife, the woman was coming to him, she also wanted to be on the picture - a girl on the ferry from Amsterdam-North to the center, wanderers in the Westerpark, animals, a horse, a sad staring white bull.

Veltman photographs things that hit him visually and / or emotionally and then the moment is also important. "That can be the light, or the situation. I used to make fewer photos in the analogue period, now I make a lot more, ten instead of one, but the first picture mostly turns out to be the best afterwards." Veltman works entirely autonomously, he does not accept assignments. "I need freedom, both in painting and in photography. That depends on my character. "

Greenberg Collection

He also photographed in the past, but when it became serious, ten years ago, he didn’t have a look in a photo book for the first four years. "I wanted to be influenced as little as possible." Now he likes to look at other photographers. He was deeply impressed by the Howard Greenberg Collection that was on display in the Jewish Historical Museum in 2014/15. "Greenberg is a gallery owner and collector. He has collected work from dozens of photographers. Every picture is great. I have been watching three times." He shows me the catalog, with one of the most famous photographs: 'Migrant Mother' by Dorothea Lange. And a shed by Walker Evans, which looks surprisingly similar to the dilapidated sheds of Peter himself. "But I had not seen his work when I did the sheds myself."

Does he have a key work, a work that functioned as a turning point? He has key works, in the paintings, he says. "The first landscapes, my first barn painting. In the Venice painting it was already announced. That was in the early eighties, but after that I also made many still lifes. "


How long has he been an artist? "As a child I wanted to become an 'artist' or, in any case, have an adventurous life. But I think that artist is a big word. This can only be said by others and it only becomes clear through time. In my family, my father had a grocery store in Amsterdam-North, a lot of music was made. Everyone played an instrument and there was a lot of singing. My father played flute and violin, I played guitar. My father was also an enthusiastic amateur artist."

By an older brother he came into contact with French chansons in the early 1950s, including Georges Brassens. He sang songs that he already fell in love with as a child. Peter initially went into the music, with his guitar he performed throughout the Netherlands in small theaters. But also a few months in Rotterdam, in 'Het Roefje', a café-chantant-cellar near the Town Hall Square. "I did that singing for a few years. I sang songs by Brassens and Brel, in my own translation and in translation by Ernst van Altena." He did it until his 23rd in 1970. Then he met his wife and he got married.

He went to work at the Algemeen Handelsblad as proofreader and went to the Rietveld Academy in the evening where he took his LO certificate after two years, and then went on to the daytime training of that same Academy, where he took his M.O.-B certificate in 1979. Then another year Rijksacademie in the graphic arts department. He then became a drawing teacher at Waterlant College in Amsterdam Noord.

The Church of Monnickendam

We walk to the storage room of his works. I see a beautiful monumental work, the Church of Monnickendam (1626) and a beautiful drawing of a reclining woman. "I made those at the Rietveld Academy. With this drawing I was accepted at the Rijksacademie.”

Does he have a philosophical conclusion? "Certainly: the artwork has to do it. There is not too much to talk about, a work of art tells the story itself. "


1) House in Venice, oil on linen / oil on canvas; size 100 x 80 cm, ca. 1981, 2) Barn in Landsmeer, oil on linen / oil on canvas; 2002; size 80 x 90 cm, 3) Wester Sugar refinery, oil on linen / oil on canvas; 2001; 60 x 74 cm, 4) Zeeburg, photo, 2010, 5) Oostzaan, photo, 2009, 6) Boulogne-sur-Mer, photo, 2015, 7) Buikslotermeer, photo, 2016, 8) Schellingwoude, photo, 2015, 9) Between Paesens and Lauwersoog, 10)The Post Office, photo, 2011, 11) Duck, photo, 2011, 12) Buiksloterwegveer, photo, 2015, 13) Globetrotter Amsterdam, photo, 2015, 14) Peter Veltman, photo and copyright Pete Purnell, 2016 



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