- 2008/11/06 Art is more than colours for Dutch artist

Dutch artist Gerard Van Den Oetelaar is versatile with his brush work.

Having vast experience in a career that spans over three decades, he has mastered various painting mediums from watercolour and charcoal to figurative and abstract.

Oetelaar, 59, who is holding a month-long exhibition at Sarawak Museum in Kuching, was trained as a house and decoration painter.


Image: Manyin (right) looking at one of the paintings at the ongoing expo in Sarawak Museum, Kuching, recently while museum director Datuk Sanib Said (left) and Oetelaar look on.
Manyin (right) looking at one of the paintings at the ongoing expo in Sarawak Museum, Kuching, recently while museum director Datuk Sanib Said (left) and Oetelaar look on.


At the age of 23, he left his hometown in Loosbroek at Brabant and moved to the Limburg Weert. There, he focused on the artistic side of painting.

In the beginning, he experimented with watercolour and charcoal drawings, and attended courses to get a better knowledge of the techniques.

Between 1975 and 1987, his career was dominated by figurative work along lines of classic and realistic ideas.

During the period, Oetelaar completed many portraits in charcoal and oil. Light colours and pastels (lots of white) and one central theme dominated his work.

In the end, he felt this was not enough to express a visible form of his inner world.


Image: Paintings (above and below) by Oetelaar on display at the museum.
Paintings (above and below) by Oetelaar on display at the museum.


After an artistic impasse, he made a trip to the Far East in 1988, and that journey brought about miracles in the advancement of his career, as he switched to abstract painting.

Having exhibited his works in several countries, including the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow and Tula Art Museum, Oetelaar aptly chose ďMore Than ColoursĒ as the theme for his month-long exhibition here until Nov 23.

At the opening of the exhibition recently, state Tourism and Urban Development Minister Datuk Michael Manyin said it was very difficult to understand abstract art.


Image: Painting by Gerard Oetelaar.


However, he said that Sarawak Museum invited Oetelaar in recognition of the artistís high level.

Manyin also urged Sarawak artists to exhibit their paintings overseas, like in Europe.

He said, through art, Sarawak could promote tourism products like Sarawak Museum, which is among the best in South-East Asia.

ďIt is a great product which tourists can visit any time of the year,Ē he added.

Manyin said that the wall paintings in Niah Cave in Miri Division was evidence that Sarawak has had artists for thousands of years.

Records show that former Sarawak Museum curator Tom Harrison and an archaeological team unearthed a human skull estimated to be 40,000 years old in the cave.


Image: Painting by Gerard Oetelaar.


Manyin said, unlike the old days, an artist could make a living by selling paintings.

He said that paintings of some world-renowned artists became priceless after their deaths.

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