Toon Verhoef

Voorburg NL 1946, lives and works in Edam

oil and alkyd on linen
150 x 100 cm

Here, in thin green lines, the strange form of the motif has been drawn in an organized manner. Originally that fantasy unfolded in a drawing. There it was loosely sketched, I recall, with pastel chalk; when this is moved gently across the paper, it results in a hazy greyish line. On looking at this green version, you can vaguely imagine the lines: searching, aimless, wandering. Because before this form became something resembling a figure, it was actually just lines in search of something that might reveal itself. Imagine a brook which has a small obstacle (a branch, a stone) in its stream, this giving rise to thin lines or tracks that sweep along with the irregularly flowing water. Everyone has, at one time, contemplated the amazingly unfathomable play of streaming, eddying water. The drawing began with an initial rambling line—left behind by the sensing hand of the artist who holds a piece of chalk. That first line was more or less aimless. It mucked about and lurched diagonally downward, that being the hand's natural movement. The first hesitant line was followed by a second, which moved more confidently because it was able to focus on something—namely the first line. Then, once the quaking lines began to group themselves, flaring laterally downward, something resembling a form began to emerge. Thus other diagonal lines came into the picture as well. But the way in which that oddly developed form comes across here in the painting is a bit more decisive, because it already existed. It has become a motif. Instinctively, therefore, you keep on looking to see if it represents anything. Let me say: a sketchy silhouette of a Christmas tree. But it also resembles a coat that has been haphazardly slung onto a nail. The form can look like many things that come to mind, according to whatever mood you're in. It is, however, a form that actually represents nothing. The figure has a character which is peculiar and infinitely suggestive. That is its role. In this group of paintings, the artist has arrived at the idea of using this to examine connections with the strip fragments. That overall stage setting is what the work is about. The motif lies here in tender green, drawn in elegant lines on a radiant field of white containing wisps of diluted yellow. In that shining light of the morning, I now see the strips darting about like balls being tossed in the air by a juggler. The strips (again in the typical configuration that corresponds to the motif's movement) are also light in terms of visual weight. At first they were light orange, and later they were painted over thinly with, roughly, the same color as the background. They became transparent and thereby began to whirl and sway like blossoms. In the radiantly light field of the background, I moreover discerned fine tendrils of even whiter paint which made the work glisten like drops of dew appearing on a cobweb in the morning sun.

R.H. Fuchs (translation Beth O'Brien)