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2023 - a trip down memory lane
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2023 - a trip down memory lane

Days before Christmas DOES arrived home from Miami, USA, where he had a creative escapade in the vibrant streets of Fort Lauderdale in Miami, USA. Here he was invited to the 'Urban Block Collection' artist residency to paint moveable walls for what will become an outdoor gallery. As his bags lie unpacked in the hall of his home, DOES took time to reflect on the year.


What three accomplishments from this year are you most proud of?

The satisfying feeling of achievement is directly related to the journey that leads up to it. I am quite proud of the series of collages I made for my solo show Perpetual in Brussels in April. It is the best series of collages yet in terms of level of detail, design and balance. I also made the two largest collages to date, measuring 75 x 95 cm. It took months of disciplined work, isolated in my studio, disconnected in a way from the world around me.

Another achievement is the 36 meter high mural that I made with Nash and Mr. June in my hometown Sittard. The project is memorable for several reasons. The two artists are the first generation of local graffiti artists from the 80's that have influenced me. Nash stood at the beginning of my career. Also, the wall itself is one of a kind. It is the wall that you see when entering Sittard by train. It has been there all my life and it is a childhood dream come true to paint  it. While painting we took a trip down memory lane sharing all kinds of stories from the past. Looking back, this project was a very special one. 

Another highlight was a visit to Hotel Paradiso in the Dolomites. If you ever get a chance to visit the Dolomites, it is definitely worth it. What a place this is, truly jaw dropping! I have a special bond with the hotel where some of my art pieces are being exhibited. 


What were the biggest obstacles or challenges you faced?

Being locked inside my studio while working on the Perpetual collages was an ordeal. In the past it has happened that I had to do a lot of work at the last minute. I wanted to prevent that now, so I worked very disciplined over a long period of time. At times like that it works well for me to lose myself in the work, but gradually the urge to go outside grows, to break free and reconnect with my roots. After I finished the collage collection I made several street pieces in Cologne Germany and the Netherlands. In Belgium I went off the tracks to paint an old train. Hitting the streets takes me back to the old days, it's an instant shot of energy and inspiration. This is how I connect my studio work with my roots in graffiti.

Another obstacle was me standing over a 100 feet high, frozen by fear of this height. I am used to working at heights, but 36 meters is really bizarrely high. Every day we checked all cables, weights and connections of the platform we used. I thought I was ready to paint the highest part of the wall, but fear took over. As the wind blew across my face, the color drained from my cheeks. ‘Guys, I have to go down nów’, I said. It was a windy day and while the platform was slowly lowered, the slack in the cable increased. At one point a gust of wind pushed the platform several feet away from the wall. I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the bottom. We waited for a calm day to complete the upper part.

In retrospect, the most satisfaction comes from things that require you to face yourself and push your boundaries. 

 

What other memorable project have you done this year?

This year my online journey continued with the transition to DOES 3.0, a new digital frame to tell my story and manifest my work. A huge milestone for me and the team. We brought the shop and gallery together. The website now contains a complete database of my work from the past 20 years and the navigation and menu structure make it easier to navigate.

I was invited in Haute Loire in the French town of Le Puy en Velay and more specifically in the enclosure of the hotel du département Unesco World Heritage to paint a panel of 3 X 4 meters. This assignment subconsciously felt like confirmation that street art is no longer seen as vandalism but as an accepted art form.
I hung out for a few days at the North Sea jazz festival where I exhibited some art pieces. In Linares, Spain, I painted a mural during the 4th edition of the 23700 Arte Urbano Festival. I was also invited for the 5th edition of the festival Peinture Fraîche where I painted a piece in an abandoned factory. 

Furthermore I participated in group shows in Amsterdam (Punctilious), Miami (Reflections) and New Zealand (Monochrone) and a duo show at WTC Art Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands. 


What was it in particular that gave you energy?

Honestly, I always have energy to create. I guess it’s because I vary a lot in my work. Variety is key. What made my heart beat faster was a street piece I made in an abandoned factory in Spain. These kinds of abandoned places where no soul goes are a paradise for me. Also I had a rush while painting the abandoned train tunnels in Charleroi, Belgium. A spot high on my graffiti wishlist.


How would you describe 2023 in 1 word?

Flowing. Every piece, every assignment, every accomplishment flowed into the next. I set a number of goals for myself at the beginning of every year. And when I look back, I was able to achieve most of them. An important goal is always to maintain balance between the different media I use. Between assignments you do not always have control over what comes your way. You have to let it wash over you and that worked out well this year. 2023 was an undulating movement from start to finish.

Thanks to my team and all you loyal followers and admirers of my work. Through my art I share a piece of myself, pouring my thoughts and emotions into it. In appreciating it, you become a part of that artistic journey. A pretty magical exchange, don't you think? I wish you all a very happy new year.

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