World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 172 - Evert de Vreugd
Evert de Vreugd paints cars. Large American cars from the 1950s, but also smaller cars of later times and thé icon of French car inventiveness, the DS of Citroën, the 'pike', for the French the Déesse, the Goddess.
I am at Evert's home in The Hague’s Flower Neighbourhood (Bloemenbuurt) in his studio. On an easel on the right a painting with which he almost finished, a fifties truck in yellow and green with a dinky toy as model. For me on another easel a car that is still partly in plastic cover. The bumper, part of the license plate and the headlight are visible. Behind large paintings of a Cadillac and a Buick.
Evert has been drawing cars for as long as he can remember. "In primary school I was moved to the front bench because I was always drawing on the back bench. But I have never seen the car as a serious theme. Originally I am a landscape painter. My first exhibition, in Zeeland, was about Zeeland landscapes. I was struck by the vastness of the Zeeland polders. But after the first exhibition I found other painters so much better. I had difficulty distinguishing myself. The landscape was too limited for me. I went looking for a suitable subject. "
At the time he lived in Goes and in front of his house there was an old Simca 1100 from 1973. It was completely rotted. "The junkyard did not want to have it. Then I went to the junkyard myself. All car wrecks were stacked in a grass field. I looked at it from a distance and there arose a unique image for me: not only the stacked cars on top of each other, but also the landscape around it. I saw a completely different landscape than I saw before for my paintings." Then something started to tickle him. Would it be something to work on the combination of cars and landscape? He indeed began to paint car wrecks in grass fields. "I did it half-abstract, under the influence of Wil Bouthoorn, my teacher at the Free Academy (Vrije Academie), where I had lessons for a while. Slowly the car became more prominent and the landscape disappeared into the background. "
In his current work the car is central, but there is an environment around it. A wall, a building, sometimes still a landscape. It is now decor. Behind the pink Cadillac is a piece of the Louwman Museum, the car museum on the border of The Hague and Wassenaar. Evert has even worked there for a while. Meanwhile he picked up a new hobby: miniature cars, in particular Dinky Toys. "I'm doing it for fun. I have been a member of the NAMAC for a long time, a miniature car club." He also collects them. On the left side of the wall I see a box with dinky toys, a model for the painting we were just talking about. Another layer and then this painting is ready. First he painted the dinky toys on linen, but now on plywood plates of 24 x 18. "Birch plywood. There was already a coating on it. I have tested whether oil paint - which I always paint with - goes well together. That was the case. I have had a whole pile of those boards cut. "
Araun Gordijn from Gouda also paints cars. "He is originally a sculptor, but also liked typical American things, such as the car. When he received an order for a cover for a jubilee book about cars and he took a Dinky Toy as a model, I thought 'I'm going to try if I can do that too'. And that worked. In England you have a whole school of dinky toy car painters, and also in Belgium." We look at the painting with the plastic cover. "That car was in the owner’s company yard. He is restoring cars. I went there. The cover served for dust protection. When I painted the car with a cover, I discovered that I can do it well. Because of my work, I got a lot of contacts with people with old cars. They open the door easily for me."
Evert drives himself in a Citroën’s Déesse. He has been doing this for more than 20 years. His current Déesse, a D super from 1972, has been around for more than 10 years. He finds the car beautiful, from whatever angle you look at it. "I have not yet discovered the less beautiful side. Déesses are completely different from all other cars." The Citroën DS is from 1955. When he appeared, it blew everyone away. "In my opinion, the DS was far ahead of its time. Suddenly all the other cars were old-fashioned. It is a comfortable car. That has to do with the construction, the wheelbase is bigger. In addition, the front wheels are further apart than the rear wheels. You will quickly make a turn. It is extremely safe due to the hydraulic system. It is not for nothing that 'avantgarde' is a French word. It is one of the most beautiful cars to paint. The car runs like a red thread throughout my career. From wreck, super car to the dinky toys. Even the wreck of a DS is still attractive." The price is not too bad. The group that wants the car appears to be limited. "And a lot has been made of it. The price of the very old types are on the rise." In 1975 the last DS was produced, some convertibles are dated to 1978. Then it was done with the DS.
The successor of the Citroën, the Citroën CX, was completely different. "The DS was an exception, no follow-up possible. The same applies to Volkswagen's beetle, another icon." This icon, which seemed like falling from the sky, would not be possible now, thinks Evert. "The development costs are now too high. The designers had received carte blanche, that does not happen anymore. They had a lot of guts. Flaminio Bertoni, a sculptor who also designed carriages, drew the model.” Many paintings hang in the stairway of the house, including the painting 'Flaminio's dream'. We see a non-existing DS, with three windows in succession. Evert: "In 1954, when Citroën was busy with the development of the DS, the news came in that the Germans were also working on a car in the same class with a third side window. Flaminio had already designed it, but it had to be removed. The disadvantage was an advantage because he designed a panoramic rear window, much more unique. And the car got a better streamlining, with a 'rain gutter' that ended in the so characteristic 'trumpets'. "
Does Evert have a key work, a work that functioned as a turning point? He has, and even more than one. They are so important that they no longer leave the studio. His first key work is the painting of a junkyard in Goes. We look at the painting. "It has arisen as a jigsaw puzzle. I have combined several wrecks." In the middle is a loose hanging engine cover of a DAF. It is a painting of a much larger size than he was used to. He gives an example of the work he made before: potato fields in watercolor, on paper, with a size of 12 x 12 cm.
The second key work is a series of four paintings of car wrecks in a muted tone. He still has one of them. We see a fragment of a Fiat Ritmo from 1985. The painting is also called Ritmo. The half-abstract was created under the influence of Wil Bouthoorn. Evert likes to combine. "I have an 'Autumn Déesse', and an 'Autumn Peugeot', which has to do with the period of the creation of the painting, but it also refers to the autumn of life. Cars are sometimes a metaphor, they could also be about people." The paintings have more layers. Among other things, it is about the tension between beauty and perfection. "Perfection is not equal to beauty. They have nothing to do with each other. Women try to become more beautiful through botox, almost perfect. But that never works. A woman with botox is always uglier. The most beautiful cars for me are the cars that drove a lot. Dinky toys are the most fun when they are used as toys and the wear is visible."
Behind me, above the couch, hangs in seven episodes the development of a dinky toy painting, from sketch to final result. The work is also multi-layered literally. This also applies to the large paintings. We look at the black of a car painting with a cover that he has put on the easel. "When I make this, I'm busy everywhere at the same time. I experience whole adventures. I have to constantly respond to things that I did before. Now the black is so black that I have to put more shadow in the cover. The painting only arises during painting. It is thinking and searching to actually make and bring to life what I have my head, or what I have outlined. "
Sometimes references can be found in details in a painting. That is the case in the Citroen SM of Johan Cruijff with the wall of the Olympic Stadium where Cruijff celebrated triumphs in the background and the two Citroën buildings in the corner, in an American car the reflection of the Groene Wegje in The Hague can be seen in the bumper. In this way, assignments are ingeniously processed.
Evert: "While painting I explore my own possibilities. I try to paint the light that a photographer has captured on a car, for example. Some cars consist of many materials, Panhards for example, with a weird mix of aluminum and stainless steel. I then check whether I can express the hardness of these materials in paint. Will I be able to paint aluminum differently from chrome? Sometimes you are surprised that you have succeeded. "
Evert de Vreugd has been painting since 1979, but professionally since 1990. "From that year on I made a leap. My first exhibition was in that year in a gallery in the Laan van Meerdervoort, Studio LVM, it no longer exists. The opening was at half past two in the afternoon. The exhibition was already sold out before the opening. But honestly, I am never busy with the sale. It is about the adventure of making. As Pipi Longstocking was a 'things finder', I am a 'things maker'.
Lastly, a final word. "Painting is my passion. It is not a hobby, I do not do it without obligation. I need it as an outlet to make me feel happy. It's damn fun, I can recommend it to anyone: Go and paint! "
1) Dutch Blue, 2) Flaminio's dream, 80 x 100, 3) Autumn Peugeot, 80 x 100, 4) Autumn Déesse, 60 x 100, 5) Faded glory, 60 x 60, 6) Evert de Vreugd, photo Theo Bos , 7) 1951 Cadillac, on the easel an original Dutch Cadillac. The painting is still in progress, 8) Evert's first Dinky toy in large format, 60 x 70. The painting is still in progress, 9) Panhard, oil on linen, 60 x 60, 10) 10) A Jensen Interceptor at a grower in the Westland, a special car that deserves a better boss. Oil on linen, 60 x 60, 11) Buick GS. From the series Hidden beaties, oil on linen, 60 x 80