The Tyranny of Reality and the Autonomy of Painting

Marlene Dumas on Jan Andriesse

The work of Jan Andriesse does not show the conflict from which it arises, nor does it play on the sentiments it houses.
The construction is buried under layers of paint.
Half in jest, but telling, is the following statement he once wrote;
To get you down, a list of painters’ seven-up deadly sins –

  1. painterliness
  2. pain
  3. passion
  4. pleasure
  5. pantheism
  6. panderism
  7. purpose

At a time when art has become increasingly aware of its audience and tries not to alienate any of his viewers, his art is indifferent to either the seduction or the provocation of others.

His use of bleached tones is often mistaken for pastels, due to retinal laziness by those saddled with the popular notion that softness implies weakness.

These tones are the colours of dusk. The hour of the fall when light turns dark and non-colour sets in.
But his work is no rage against the dying of this light.
It is a state of submission. It is a slow process that cannot be manipulated but that has to be revealed.


Jan Andriesse | The Tyranny of Reality and the Autonomy of Painting. Originally published in Jan Andriesse, (cat.) Galerie Maria Wilkens, Köln, 1989, p. 1-2; and included in Marlene Dumas, Sweet Nothings. Notes and Texts | On Others, first edition Galerie Paul Andriesse and De Balie Publishers Amsterdam, 1998; and second edition (revised and expanded) Koenig Books London, 2014.

In 1999 Dumas wrote a sequel to this text: Jan Andriesse | Future Perspective, or why he’s not the Man they say he is (1999).