Self-Portrait 2002 No. 9
Philip Akkerman, 2002
Philip Akkerman (Vaassen, NL, 1957), The Hague, NL
“Self-portraits: OK. It's cliché, too safe, not new, academic, been done before. But: THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO DO!,” Philip Akkerman confided to his diary several weeks before completing his training at Ateliers ’63 (today De Ateliers). By feeling this inner urge, Akkerman knew in as early as 1981 what he would be painting to this very day. Akkerman's decision had nothing to do with vanity. He sees the self-portrait as the right form for illustrating the philosophical question of existence. In the course of time, Akkerman shifted his focus to the tangible execution of his portraits: “At the beginning I really thought I was painting myself,” explains Akkerman, “but that changed after a couple of years and I saw myself as a pars pro toto – a ‘part taken for the whole’ – for all humanity, all living creatures, even all existence. Later, I became solely interested in the painting. I had become paint.”
Akkerman is averse to idealisation; there is no need, after all, to take account of what the subject of the painting is feeling. In Self-portrait 2002 No. 9, for instance, his own face fills nearly the entire painting, where every line and wrinkle is magnified. Besides his outer transformation, Akkerman's self-portraits also capture the inner battle waged by the different sides of his personality to be immortalised in the painting: “Would the real Philip Akkerman please stand up? Or then again, would he please sit down for a change,” wrote Akkerman wearily.
1976-1978: Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, NL 1979-1981: De Ateliers (Ateliers ’63 at the time of Akkerman's training), Haarlem, NL