Philip Akkerman (detail)

Philip Akkerman: 2314 Self-portraits

On the occasion of the presentation of the Catalogue Raisonné Philip Akkerman: 2314 Self-portraits 1981-2005 (Veenman Publishers, Rotterdam), TORCH Gallery is pleased to present a solo show by the Dutch painter at the Art fair ART ROTTERDAM 2006. The artist will be signing his book during the opening of the art fair. 

Since the Renaissance and its shift towards humanism, artists have begun to claim their individual authorship rights and have started their upward movement in the social hierarchy. Since then, artists have felt the need to portray themselves as a way for ethic -and sometimes aesthetic- introspection. Meanwhile these self-portraits constitute a peculiar kind of legacy to posterity. Then, what can that mean by the end of the twentieth century that an artist –representative of his Western contemporaries- solely dedicates himself to producing self-portraits?       

For already a quarter of a century, the Dutch artist Philip Akkerman has exlusively dedicated himself to producing self-portraits. These invariably present Philip’s head or bust in frontal position or from three-quarter painted on a wooden support, which size always corresponds to one out of three fixed ones. Though it is possible to discern successive phases in which different painterly techniques prevail, Akkerman’s corpus of work reads as an endless variation on the same theme: the -masculine white- self and his relation to the western history of representation. Philip Akkerman’s work confronts us with an individual whose self-perception can never be fixed, whose quest for identity in terms of the relation between visual styles, modes of production and physical features always calls for another try. Drawing on the Old Masters’ techniques, Philip Akkerman’s paintings seem to pleasurably ask the viewer to consider the crisis that both the visual arts and the individual –through the figure of the artist- is undergoing by the turn of the twenty-first century. Read in those terms, his fresco of the 2314 faces of the individual throughout the circumstances of life and the unavoidable process of aging speaks about the fragmented essence of the being and his self-perception in contemporary society and his consequent inability to offer a stable representation of himself according to the canon of the western art.        

Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2006

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