Painters 2013

Jacob Kerssemakers

Jacob Kerssemakers finds similarities between Lamu and Aruba, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea where he grew up. He singles out the personable interactions among islanders and of course the fishing activities that are so important to island cuisine and livelihoods. It is the tempo of island live in Lamu that resonates with his childhood memories in Aruba. Yet, he is quick to point out the differences too. “There are many experiences that are special to Lamu,” Jacob insists. For one, Lamu is predominantly Muslim and the rhythms of life are accentuated by the calls to prayer five times a day. Another difference is the depth of Swahili history in Lamu which enriches local culture. -

Jacob and I met on one of the twisting alleyways that are a landmark of Lamu Town. His easel was placed in a doorway in the shade of a wikio, an underpass created by connecting houses on opposite sides of the street, a traditional architectural feature in Lamu’s historic district. His eyes focused on the sharp vertical lines of created by the 3-storied houses lining the narrow alleyway ahead. Meanwhile, I took a look at his equipment. His easel is a specialized homemade concoction that enables him to paint panoramic views of more than 3 metres in length. How? The easel holds a portion of the canvas flat while the remainder is rolled hidden from view. The artist works on a section at a time and when finished rolls up the painted portion and unrolls more unfinished canvas.

“I have it worked out,” he remarked as I cautioned him of the donkeys approaching his easel. “If it is a donkey carrying loads on his sides, I have to move my easel. But if it is simply carrying a load on top, I am okay. There is enough space for him to pass.”The calculations of space, time and oncoming donkeys as well as easel craftsmanship are an indication of his interests. Jacob is a scientist and works as a bio-physicist, at least part of the time. “Yes, I like to figure things out and I am methodical,” Jacob tells me. When he is not painting, he works part time at a university research centre in Amsterdam. His part time status is a choice and it has enabled him to pursue his art interests.

Jacob Kerssemakers was born in 1968 in Aruba of Dutch parents. He is a plein air painter with a twist; he creates panoramic views on location, some which reach over 8 metres in length. His subject matter includes landscapes both rural and urban industrial. He studied fine arts in Amsterdam and completed in 2012.

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