Painters 2017

Ernst Dingemans

Ernst Dingeman’s quiet reticence concealed a wry sense of humour.  Unlike many of the artists, who gave their work a simple name, Ernst’s titles included “Dreaming of a White Christmas” or “Toilet on the Beach”. Often found painting in quiet companionship with his wife, Sonja, their painting styles were polar opposites. Ernst’s world is depicted in a linear perspective. In one of his paintings, a big expanse of blue skies merges into the yellow sands. Peering over the harsh grey jetty sits a figure, dressed in white. Ernst has managed to inject a sense of mystery into his stark composition. What is the person looking at so intently? What is he thinking? It is an intriguing piece of work.

Ernst seemed a little uncomfortable talking about himself. Is he being bashful when he recounted, that growing up, his brothers were much better draftsmen than him? Ernst had a career in the ‘real world’ before he took up painting full time. His creative journey also included jewellery-making, sculpture, ceramics and photography. As he says “I like making things - either a painting, a sculpture, a piece of furniture. It is not only art – I get great satisfaction from making things.”

Ernst said that Lamu was very different from his expectations: “I expected Africa, but I find there are parts that are Middle Eastern.” He admitted that he struggled to find a connection between himself and his painting. He felt that as outsider, it was a challenge, not to paint a ‘chocolate box’ pastiche. Making a connection is an important part of his approach to producing a good painting, especially in portraiture. “I need to have a bond with the person I am painting. It is my fault that I can’t make this connection.”

Asked how he would he talk about his time in Lamu to friends back in Holland, is Ernst being deadpan when he answers “it has been quite an experience. I am not a simple person and I cannot give a simple answer.”

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