Looking for Paradise in Pride 2022
At Hotel Casa we are home to all people! To express this through art, we collaborate with artist Hans van Beukering. His homosexual oriented and inclusive art pieces are exactly what we were looking for during Pride 2022. Get to know Hans and find out where he got his inspiration for his series ‘Looking for Paradise’.
Hey Hans, we’re so glad to welcome you here at Casa and we’re beyond proud to exhibit your work!
After such a long time of covid, I’m so happy that I can show my work to a large audience again. And I’m also excited about the perfect match between Casa and my work. Casa has the right aesthetics so that all my colourful work blends perfectly with the interior.
Your work can be seen on the first floor and in the lobby. We’re curious about you and the story behind your paintings!
I have been painting for about 20 years. And as you can see, I am not afraid of experimenting. However, several elements keep coming back to my art. I like to use colour, paint mainly gay men, and in the last series, I often let fluorescent pink shine through – the colour that symbolises the gay community. Almost nobody wants to do the same thing for 20 years, so you will also see different techniques on my canvases. My paintings have various layers – I like to play with light and shadows.
Are light and darkness the themes you often work with?
Yes, they are. You see this in more of my series. Beacon of light falling on the model, contrasting with some sadness in the gaze. But you always see the person’s strength to get out of that darkness again. I worked for years as a therapist and often was involved in problems such as depression and loneliness.
The title ‘Looking for Paradise’ sounds anything but dark. What was your inspiration for these paintings?
One of the paintings in the series I had already made before covid. With the idea that everyone is searching for the ultimate paradise in their way. When the virus also swept over the Netherlands, it hit me hard. I sometimes felt lonely and did not know how to deal with the new situation. At one point, I got extremely inspired and was painting seven days a week. The second painting in the series is the man embracing the bear in the forest. For me, the bear symbolizes the threat of the virus. By embracing the bear, I embraced corona. It turned out alright. The bright light through the trees also says that there is always a solution.
The other pieces in ‘Looking for Paradise’ show very different landscapes. What does your paradise look like?
I used to feel the need to travel to landscapes like this myself. Searching for that WOW feeling people get when standing on top of a mountain. Grand and compelling. Looking for paradise. I notice around me – in the gay community – that particularly the generations after me are very busy finding the ultimate paradise. I do not feel that urge anymore and find my paradise in beautiful walks and bike rides in the Netherlands. The landscapes I have created on these canvases are my memories of other times.
What feeling do you hope to leave on visitors with this work?
I am an intuitive artist. I don’t have an idea in advance of what I’m going to make. I do have a plan. Often a photo of a man, gay or otherwise, is the starting point and I look for a certain landscape or atmosphere to go with it. While painting, I follow my feelings and instincts. I don’t like realistic art. Therefore, I rather use abstract elements. Because of this, all my paintings are always open to interpretation, and everyone sees different things in my work.
How do you choose the men you want to paint?
I usually paint gay men that I come across on Instagram, on dating sites, and in films. Then I take a picture of them and edit the colours before I start painting. What came to my attention is that these days lots of gay men want to bring out the typical masculinity in themselves. They spend hours at the gym and are real machos with those muscular bodies. I find it beautiful to see men who dare to show their macho and soft side and embrace it. My work shows this mainly through the colours or men with a softened and open look.
And why do you paint men specifically?
I have drawn models for many years, including women, however – for some reason, I’m not as good at it as when I paint men. When I know someone better, I manage to picture that woman on the canvas. Gay men and being a man stand closer to me. I can identify with them. Hopefully the same goes for other gay men who come to this exhibition.
It has become a tradition for you to exhibit your work during Pride. Why do you think it is important to give your work extra attention during this period?
With my exhibition and paintings, I would like to contribute to the acceptance of homosexuality in the Netherlands. We must be proud of who we are. Proud to be gay. Because even though heterosexuals and homosexuals are legally completely equal, I do wonder: has gay emancipation been completely successful? With gay marriages, for example, the presence of the pink culture has been accepted – but mainly in the big cities. Even so, many still struggle with visibility in their immediate surroundings. Tolerance seems to have decreased in schools and on the streets in recent years, and gays feel less safe. Even walking hand in hand is often not possible. More and more people call themselves bisexual and many gay men never even come out. There are many taboos that we still need to get rid of. Paintings with men, for example, are not bought that easily. It would be amazing if it became normal to have a painting of two men kissing or of an attractive naked gay man hanging above your couch.
What does Pride mean to you?
When I was young, I also went with the boats and partied along the canals. Now I celebrate Pride and freedom differently, for example by joining the Pride Walk. In the Vondelpark, there is a lot to do and there are a lot of parties in the city. It’s great that this is still going on after all these years. We should continue to cherish Pride in the Netherlands. Pride is now a huge event in Amsterdam with over 400,000 visitors. For a short while, the city is united with each other. That is what Pride means to me: that we can celebrate this joy and freedom in public. And this year, of course, I will do so with my exhibition in Casa!
Thanks, Hans! You can visit ‘Looking for Paradise’ at Hotel Casa until 12 August on the first floor, the vide and around the conference rooms. Come by and take a closer look at all the works. The exhibition is free of charge and who knows, you might even run into Hans. Happy Pride!