Carin Anderson (info: 0031-6-46064661 and https://carinanderson.nl/), born in 1959 in Groningen, The Netherlands, gave on 17 October 2020 an introduction into her exhibition of about 30 paintings that she has made over the past 15 years. The exihibition was taking place at Het Vreedehuis, Riouwsraat 1, The Hague and has as its theme ‘Between light and darkness’. Her beautiful paintings are characterized by warm colors and subtle shapes. She wants to appeal to the universal path of development that lies hidden in every human being. The threshold experience between light and darkness, depicted in the painting below, has perhaps impressed me most.
Encounter for the Light, acrylic on canvas, Carin Anderson
But I was particularly interested in the two paintings she made about the Apocalypse, in which she mainly wanted to be guided by John’s text.
Entering somewhere a pathway
She started her introduction on 17 October with a vivid description of the way she works.
‘What I do, I set up a painting using two or three color-tones, like ochres and blues, which I use to build up an atmosphere. I feel that this is my breeding ground. Gradually, when I have applied those layers, I deepen the color and set it in motion. I see the shifting of layers and the beginning of transparency. You already feel that you can go in it a bit.
You do have a subject in you and you know where you want to go, but you don’t know your way to arrive there yet. That is your field of tension in which you find yourself. Chaos arises, you put it aside, you let go of it for a moment, pick it up again and at some point, a kind of order will emerge. Something out of an abstract environment starts to express itself more and more, a language of forms arises, a composition. You have to attune those elements to each other and that composition is going to show you the way. First you have given a lot to an image, but then something turns. The image gradually comes to you. Something comes closer for a moment. That you can pull towards you. You end up in the space you build up. If that succeeds, that’s my lucky moment, that’s what you do it for. That is the result of the interplay and the tuning. The search process is to enter somewhere a pathway. A condition is that there is sufficient silence. Silence is needed to determine your position or to go back for a while and that you search for dynamics and give focus again. In a painting a piece of life takes place in which all aspects of light and darkness are involved.’
Carin Anderson explains her way of working, Het Vreedehuis at The Hague, 17 October 2020.
Why two paintings about the Apocalypse?
Carin made two paintings about the Apocalypse, the so-called first and third large seal. The first large seal depicts the Son of Man amidst seven candlesticks (Rev. 1: 12-20) and the third large seal describes the opening of the (small) seals of the book on the lap of the One seated on the throne and the connected images of the four horsemen on a white, red, black and pale horse respectively (Rev. 6:1-7). Carin painted them in 2007 and left them in her studio ever since.
‘I don’t dare to hang them anywhere. I’m bad at showing them. I paint them. I think, oh yes, now I have to show them somewhere. But I’m already busy with something else. I actually wanted to paints all seven seals, but they are special texts which you have to study well and which you have to devote yourself to’.
When I suggest that these two paintings are the beginning of a further journey of her, she answers:
‘If I come to that. You have to leave it open, you have to open the text, carefully dismantle it, but you cannot open something that is still closed to you’.
What was the reason for this third seal after you made the first one?
‘If you read that, then it comes at you!
So, she started with the two seals which struck her imagination most.
The Son of Man
This painting of the first seal is the vision of the Son of Man with which the Apocalypse begins. John is in the cave at Patmos.
‘Such a prologue really speaks to our imagination. You are in the warmth of the earth of Patmos, I have pictured that at the bottom of the canvas. From there you ascend into the warmth, into the Alpha and Omega, and around it you come into a great darkness, out of which comes the light. But that light is layered, that’s how it comes at you. This is part of the vision that John had in the cave. He stands here on the warm earth of Patmos with the eagle on the right. There a shape of light comes to him with the seven candlesticks of light bowls around him and the cutting sword from his mouth. The snow-white light is around him with a sash, he almost walks on hot coals and carries a ring around his right hand with seven planetary signs, as John did describe it. I have to stick to that. This is an example where I have stuck to the text. My addition is that I have allowed that ether cloth to flow and I connected it to the earth. Here you see the stratification in the light, in the ether world. I have painted an altar on which the light descends and also connects it with the earth’.
And do I see a female figure depicted next to John? Is that the painter watching with John? Or Mary?
The first seal, Carin Anderson, acrylic on canvas, 2007
The four apocalyptic horsemen
Salvador Dali also chose the theme of the four apocalyptic horsemen in a lithograph from 1970.
Salvador Dali, Horseman of the apocalypse, lithograph, 1970.
The difference with the work of Carin Anderson is that the horses and their riders at Dali gallop from left to right in the image, the image is all colorful movement. Carin’s canvas evokes a completely different atmosphere, in which the light plays the leading role and the movement is not watched from a distance, but comes straight at you as a viewer. Here too she has tried to stay close to the text.
‘The rider on the white horse is most strongly restrained with its crown and bow, he comes straight at us. It comes straight at us and you have to be really strong and harmonious to stay upright. In addition, the rider with the sickle in his hand on the red horse that is almost uncontrollable, it comes around the corner and the air sniffs out of his mouth towards us. The black horse, dark black silhouette with the scales, measuring and weighing, that’s also a facet of our physical reality. And next to it the pale horse, the most filthy and poisonous greenish horse, the rider an almost skeletal human figure. It represents man with his addictions and shows dark sides where we have become dependent. He does carry a sword. He has actually become an empty shell. There you see four color tones, a triad of three colors with as fourth the darkness behind it, so that the light can come at you even stronger, where everything comes into balance. These are actually three epochs through which we as human beings have gone, and also represent three soul qualities.
The third seal, Carin Anderson, acrylic on canvas, 2007
On Sunday 1 November 2020, between 1 and 4 o’clock, there will be another guided tour by the artist.
Let’s hope that the other seals will also be opened by her.