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Interview by Doror Haarer (Der Puck) with Rik Beemsterboer
First of all, can you please discribe yourself.
(laughs) I'm the Rik. I was born in Holland and always had a bit of a troublemaker in me. I never wanted to be an artist. However, until I turned ten, I wanted to become a farmer. Meanwhile, I have been painting for 25 years.
You never wanted to become an artist and are you? How did that happen?
School was not my thing. After graduation, I never wanted to have anything to do with grades and books. At that time I liked to take pictures. My uncle saw pictures of me and said that they are really good and I should apply to the academy of art. I tried it and was accepted at the A.K.I Academy of Art and Industrial Design in Enschede (NL).
Today you are known as a painter, not as a photographer. Or did I miss something important?
The first two years at the academy were "open". You could try a lot of different directions. In the third year I dropped photography. Somehow there were no exciting subjects for taking pictures. At that time just video came up as a new direction. So I tried that. But it was not right for me either: sitting around too much, cutting films too often. My teachers told me to study painting, I did and stayed with it ever since.
So painting became something like a life content?
Yes and no. I never had a fixed goal in my head. During my studies I also played saxophone in a band. For example, we made musical experiments. With voice, saxophone, Korg Computer and keyboard. Then we technically changed the sounds. We called it "musical landscapes" and made it to New York and Japan.
Uff. That surprises me now. And how did it continue? Do you have a career as a musician?
1992 was my senior year at the Academy. Since I had to decide to make music or art. I chose art and moved to Amsterdam. Here I always painted and worked in a shop two days a week. That's how I got by. And then in 2000, I'm in love with Switzerland. In addition to painting, I started to work here as a teacher and also did the educational and didactic education.
OK. Now I really have to ask for your painting. How do you paint? What are you interested in? Where do you get your themes from?
Oh, you want to know a lot at once. Well, let's start ... For a while I painted abstract. Then that got boring for me. So I switched to realism and then had my first exhibitions. Since I'm an observer, pretty much everything interests me. I see what happens around me in the world. Then there are already topics that I want to deal with.
Give me an example.
So one of them is the series "Schoolshooters". In 2009 there was this attack in Winningen (DE). With a total of 16 dead. The next day it was in the newspaper. And the day after that it was already forgotten. I was so frustrated. About the people. And also about myself. Because we forget so quickly. That really bothered me. And that's why I started this topic of "schoolshooting". At that time I wanted to paint portraits anyway and that was a good occasion.
What exactly did you do?
I began to research on the Internet. The earliest schoolshooting I discovered, was in 1927. I found an old photo. This person blew up a whole school. I was completely shocked by the realization that schollshooting is not a new phenomenon. I also researched what psychologists said about this topic. Apparently there are certain connections between such acts and, for example, being bullied, the use of certain psychotropic drugs or the so-called "egoshooter games". But surely it is very difficult to find causalities and you have to be very careful with it.
Finally, I would like to know how the specific series were created.
I painted photos of the gunman. 25 pieces. Most of the culprits were boys, still real kids. Some of them were only 11 or 14 years old.
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