Self-Portrait 2002 No. 69
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.”
Seated against a cheerful yellow background, Akkerman peers at us with observing eyes. The deeply furrowed forehead is typical of the majority of Akkerman's self-portraits. The artist says a self-portrait of him smiling would not be very credible and that his expression should be seen as serious and concentrated. The furrow comes from his pessimistic nature, which is caused by the unsolved mystery of human existence.
1976-1978: Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, NL
1979-1981: De Ateliers (Ateliers ’63 at the time of Akkerman's training), Haarlem, NL