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How reality TV is bringing back Vermeer paintings that have been lost for centuries | CBC Radio


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A actuality TV present within the Netherlands is giving new life to outdated work, a few of which have not been seen in a whole bunch of years.

Referred to as The New Vermeer, the hit sequence challenges artists to recreate the six misplaced works of Seventeenth-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

Vermeer is without doubt one of the most well-known Dutch artists of all time, however solely about three dozen of his work are recognized to exist. Six others are misplaced — one stolen from a museum a long time in the past, and others solely recognized from temporary written descriptions gleaned from inventories or public sale information from across the time of his dying in 1675.

“This stuff have by no means even been seen,” artist Maudy Alferink, a contestant on the present’s first episode, instructed As It Occurs host Nil Köksal. “It is solely on a bit of paper — a small sentence — with the knowledge.”

These small sentences are all The New Vermeer contestants must go by as they work to re-imagine a masterpiece from scratch.

6 misplaced work, 6 episodes

The six-episode sequence launched on Feb. 12, and it is already an enormous hit within the Netherlands, says Josse van Rhee, a spokesperson on Omroep MAX, the channel that airs it.

Every of the three episodes which have aired thus far have seen viewerships of between 1.2 million and 1.3 million, he mentioned. The Netherlands has a inhabitants of 17.5 million.

The present’s launch coincided with the opening of an exhibit at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum that options 28 Vermeers — the biggest assortment of the artists’ work ever proven. The exhibit already offered out.

A man sits painting behind an aisle in a sunlit room.
Artist Nard Kwast works on his Vermeer recreation. (Omroep MAX)

Every episode of The New Vermeer pits two artists towards one another to re-create the identical work.

They get 4 months to create the piece, and in the course of the course of, they will seek the advice of with specialists and curators who coach them concerning the Vermeer’s fashion and approach, in addition to traditionally correct supplies, props and settings.

For Alferink — a self-taught painter — seizing this chance was a no brainer.

“That is the way in which I taught myself to color. I checked out Caravaggio, Vermeer, Rembrandt, all of the classical masters … and now I get the chance to be with all these specialists,” she mentioned.

“It was actually particular, so I did not must suppose twice.”

Within the first episode, Alferink competed towards artist Nard Kwast.

He is at all times had a ardour for the works of the outdated masters, he says, and has a whole lot of expertise making reproductions of their work — although by no means earlier than and not using a reference level.

This time, all he needed to go on was an outline that roughly interprets to:  A lord washing his fingers in a room with different figures.

Kwast says he began by doing his homework. He studied the artist’s work intensely, each in books and museums, asking himself: What makes a Vermeer a Vermeer?

“I’ve to essentially dive into this,” he mentioned. 

A woman with blue braided hair shows something to man and and a woman, as a third woman stands off to the side holding up a blank canvas.
Alferink, centre left, and Nard Kwast, centre proper, put together to create their re-imagined masterpieces. (Omroep MAX)

Kwast says he is at all times appreciated Vermeer for his precision, the way in which he works with mild, and his capability to depict these nonetheless and quiet moments.

However by the present, he is been in a position to observe intimately simply how a lot the artist improved himself and refined his approach all through his profession.

“I’ve rather more appreciation for his work now after this complete program,” he mentioned. “It is so genius what he does. It is so skilful additionally. However there’s additionally one thing particular about him.”

Two hyper-realistic oil paintings side by side. Both have bright pink backdrops. On the left, a grinning woman in a cowboy hat holds a purse that looks like a heart-shaped pillow, with the words "Delete My Number" embroidered on it. On the right, a woman in chunky heels and a light pink raincoat sits on a block and spreads her legs.
Two oil work by Alferink — Delete My Quantity, left, and Manspread, proper — present her hyper-realistic fashion, which she says got here in useful as she tried to imitate Vermeer. (Submitted by Maudy Alferink)

Mysterious relationships

Ultimately, each artists got here up with comparable scenes wherein a maid washes the lord’s hand whereas one other lady appears on from behind. The precise particulars differ, however each work suggest a relationship — or maybe a pressure — between the three characters.

An oil painting hung on a wall in a gold frame. It shows a man in a fancy hat having his hand washed by a n alarmed looking maid using an old fashioned jug and bowl. In the foreground in a table with a bowl of lemons. Behind them, a woman enters the room carrying a bowl of peaches.
Alferink’s recreation of a misplaced Vermeer makes use of peaches and lemons to inform a narrative. (DeNieuweVermeer.nl)

Alferink does this by symbolism, portray lemons on the desk, and a servant lady getting into the room with a basket of peaches.

“Lemons, they imply it is like a bitter love or like a love that has gone improper. And peaches, they imply sensuality and fruitfulness,” Alferink mentioned. “So there’s storyline between the three folks in there and … as a viewer, you are making an attempt to determine what is going on on.” 

An oil painting in the style of 17th-century artist Johannes Vermeer shows a man in fancy clothing standing at a table covered in food as a maid washes his hands using an old-fashioned jug and bowl. She's looking over her shoulder at a woman in a green dress holding a letter.
Kwast says he infused his Vermeer with delicate hints and nods to the artist’s historical past. (Submitted by Nard Kwast)

In Kwast’s model, as a substitute of peaches, the girl is carrying a letter. The maid washing the lord’s fingers casts her a figuring out look, nearly as if to warn: “Possibly this isn’t the appropriate second to return right here,” he mentioned.

“I wished to create some sort of pressure between these folks,” Kwast mentioned. “To be trustworthy, I am the creator of this portray, however I am probably not certain what’s taking place. However I do know there’s something taking place. And I like this greater than [if it was] completely clear.” 

Making artwork accessible

Each Alferink and Kwast are blown away by all the eye the present is getting.

“It is, for me, a bit bit surreal,” Kwast mentioned. “I am actually feeling proud.”

Alferink hopes it is going to assist introduce extra folks not solely Vermeer’s work, but additionally the artwork world typically.  Already, she mentioned she’s acquired emails from individuals who had been impressed by the present to take up portray themselves.

“I hope that’s motivating folks to go to extra museums,” she mentioned. “I actually hope so.”

The New Vermeer is just not accessible for viewing in Canada, but its accompanying web series, Masterclass, is on YouTube. Anybody can tune into the digital version of the Rijksmuseum exhibit here

Pavan Kumar
Pavan Kumarhttps://site.viagracc.com
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