Maybe it’s easier when one is a musician and one is a painter. Maybe it’s just rare to really, really be mutually blown away by each other’s work. Whatever is true, it’s clear that Peter Van Straten and Stef Bos are somewhat of a mutual admiration society.

Stef Bos

Stef is the Dutch singer song-writer who discovered South Africa and fell so in love with Afrikaans that he writes and performs in the language. Peter is the South African surrealist painter with the Afrikaans sounding name who operates primarily in English.

On Sunday 19 March, Peter’s solo exhibition opened at The Obsession Of Art in Bergen. I too am a huge admirer of Peter’s so we drove out there from Amsterdam to bear witness. I have owned 3 Van Stratens… I still own too. I was excited to see his new work and immerse myself in his somewhat uncomfortable dreamlike scapes once more.

Seeing Peter’s work online is one thing, seeing it on a wall in full size is another. Having one hanging in your home is yet another. The paintings live and breather and change constantly under your gaze. Over long periods of times in the space of a few seconds.

Stef says he envies painters because they can capture a moment while music he compared to looking at a tree from a passing train… it’s a process, a thing that must be in motion to exist. But later Peter responded by saying he envies Stef this fluidity. Stef remarked that some songs never seem to be written and are always changing. Peter answered saying that is he wants to change a painting he needs to break into someone’s house to do so… and no-one would appreciate that. The stasis of painting can be frustrating while a song is always fluid and changing.

Peter Van Straten

It was a brief exchange that unfolded over an hour or so but it was fascinating. Even artists have blinkers when looking at others art. Even successful artists are painfully aware of the limitations of their medium. For someone who is a fan of both and master of neither I have no problem shifting between the two. In fact, I like looking at paintings while listening to music. There is no black or white division for me, just the demands of each moment, each feeling.

I’ve known of Stef Bos for a long time, but never really dived into his work… but I am now and I’d recommend you do too (Stef Bos Home).I am a huge fan of Peter’s and have been since I bought my first piece of his in 1999. If you haven’t met him and his art, you should…. And you should buy it too. It really does say something different almost every time you turn to face it. (Peter Van Straten Home)

I had a massive self-portrait of Peter’s hanging in my lounge for 14 years. In it, his face swims out of a billow of clouds and other scenes, not really ever there… a fisherman in his eye, girls on swings on his cheeks…. Tiny, hidden moment sin every colour. Many guests found it simply overpoweringly intense and not restful. Others were lost in its zen-like implication of the lack of separation between ‘I’ and ‘it’.

I think I need to interview Peter for this blog!