The more you’re getting taught, the less you see reality.
Wim Kamphuis, 1939. Google him and you will find approximately two pictures and the same amount of articles. Not much going on, you might think. But the opposite is the truth. Born during WWII while being friends with some of the Netherlands’ most famous artist, Wim grew up to be a first class artist himself. But not only that. Due to his interests for artifacts from countries as Nepal, Tibet and China, he made himself a museum in his three-room-apartment. This is a portrait of one of Holland’s most interesting collectors that nobody knows about.
“I always wanted to collect art and artifacts, but I never had the money.” Wim explains while drinking his coffee. It’s two PM and the afternoon sun shines directly into his crammed living room, lighting up some glimmering skulls that are hidden behind human bones and Tibetan prayer-flags.”
While talking, Wim can’t stop observing his collection. But his own artwork is nowhere to be found.
“That is actually an even bigger challenge. To get the colors as bright as possible. The clarity in for instance the colors you see on the television screen are always brighter than colors in paint. Paint is matter. It’s hard to reach a similar amount of brightness in paintings.” In the meanwhile, Wim switched from coffee to wine. He emptied the bottle with the words: ‘like it should be; clear.’
He also writes poetry together with his paintings.
(tools van transformatie)
is een krachtig ritueel
er is altijd gekleurd
(translation to English)
(tools of transformation)
is a powerful ritual
there is always colored
This translation is not helpful, as the poem only works in Dutch. Wim doesn’t understand English that well, so if he needs to read something in English, he puts the text in a translating machine. Translating machines obviously never get things right, and Wim sees this as poetry. And who could deny that.
“I started art school. I stayed there for exactly three months before I got kicked off because of my lack of preparatory course. So I’m a self-thought artist and collector. My wife died in 2007. I couldn’t afford our house on my own anymore so I had to move. When the house was sold, I finally had money to create a collection of my own. But I didn’t know a single thing about it! I learned everything I know now in about six years. It wasn’t a lifelong study.”
“I never go somewhere to search for things. I just find, because I know where to be. I visit a lot of galleries hoping to come across something. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. The funny thing is that I now have a lot of contacts that call me as soon as new paraphernalia arrives. And they give discounts!”
He stands up and frisks through his living room, coming back with a tiny white statuette.
“It’s all about the beauty, the esthetics. Nobody knows who made it, it has no name. That’s beautiful. There’s not a single person in today’s art school who can make something like this. Marcel Duchamp for example had quality. Other people don’t. I’m getting old, and there is so many youth walking around these days thinking they are artists. I talk to them, disagreeing with their opinions, but they can’t handle that. Or understand it at all. But I think art in general is really unsightly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to be like that. People should try a little harder. Learn the techniques, for example. Learn to get your own opinion. If you add something truly new, you might even get an artwork. Be authentic! Why shouldn’t be able to say those things? But people can’t handle that. For god’s sake, I’m in a fight right now!”
KAMPH is currently working on a film project about his home.
Niels F. Rodenburg