Painters 2013

Diederik Vermeulen

Diederik speaks with fondness about his visit to Matondoni village, one of several destinations the festival artists visited to set up easels to paint landscapes. “When we arrived in Matondoni,” he explains, “we were greeted by a group of villagers singing and dancing—welcoming us”. It is their friendliness and gentleness that attracts him to the place. In the village, Diederik chose an intimate ‘spot’ to set up his easel. He sat squarely in the doorway of a home.  The family provided a traditional usitu-style stool and other accoutrement for the artist to use for his work. They sat nearby, some working at their chores and others curiously watching Diederik paint. The small children observed quietly until the stillness bored them and they moved away to play with their friends. Life moved on with its own rhythms and the artist was an honorary member of the family, painting at his easel.

www.algarveartistsnetwork.com/diederik-vermeulen

Yet, Diederik cannot forget the poverty he saw that day, including the humble homes, the rudimentary furniture and the lack of electricity and water. “I feel a conflict,” he says quietly, reflecting on his experience.  “There is so much poverty, yet people are not depressed about it. Whereas in Europe, the wealthy are on anti-depressants,” he remarks. The paradox is baffling and keeps him alert to other inconsistencies that may appear.

The artist was born in 1942 in the Netherlands. He is a mathematician by training and taught mathematics at university level for many years. “There are similarities with mathematics and art,” he tells me. “Both have to do with imagination—and both are impractical,” he jests. His first teaching job was in Lesotho, in southern Africa. In 1987, he left teaching and began to make regular trips to Portugal where he took up painting. “I like the light and landscapes of Portugal” he remarks, “and of course, Lamu.” Diederick was one of three artists who visited Lamu in 2012 and held a group exhibition at Peponi Hotel, Shela.