Most people want to dominate. They fear the worst. But you can’t control anything in the least. You must surrender. It is only to the extent that one accepts the worst that one has anything relevant to say. But the more intensely inner reality is seen, the less possible its expression becomes.
– Bram van Velde (tr. Tweed and Roman)
Sometimes, it is necessary to abandon all hope. To be nothing. Simply nothing. To remain totally alone, defenseless, it’s horrifying. You need the courage of a madman. But this approach is obviously something sacred.
The most incredible thing is that so much happens outside of the will. You can’t will anything. Not even solitude is an act of will. You simply endure it. You must hold on until the very end, without weakening. You can do nothing else. But you must not believe that because you accept being nothing, you are anyone special.
There is a moment when the task is no longer an effort. When this exhausting work is no longer tiring.
Perhaps somewhere, there is also joy; somewhere, the satisfaction of not allowing oneself to be defeated.
It is terrible to be bound to life. Each second is a struggle.
– Bram van Velde (tr. Tweed and Roman, pensum press)
I cannot paint a ‘Bram’. I don’t know how to. A ‘Bram’ emerges and surprises me every time. It’s not a utility, it’s the contrary of a product.
– Bran van Velde (tr. Tweed and Roman)
We have waited a long time for an artist who is brave enough, is at ease enough with the great tornadoes of intuition, to grasp that the break with the outside world entails the break with the inside world, that there are no replacement relations for naive relations, that what are called outside and inside are one and the same.
– Beckett on Bram van Velde (via here)
He is suffering from his isolation. He has talked about it several times. As always during the winter, he has been unable to work. He has seen nobody. He goes out walking or sits for hours in his armchair, entirely given over to what is taking shape inside him. He talks frequently about the unknown, of what emerges when all desire, all will and self-regard have spontaneously vanished and the being becomes purely passive. It is to the extent that he has the audacity and courage to welcome the unknown that the painter can engender something new and produce paintings which are each an effective encounter with life. ‘Painting’, he says, ‘is attempting to reach a point where it is impossible to remain’.
Juliet on Bram van Velde, Conversations with Samuel Beckett and Bram van Velde
‘If these gouaches live at all, it is because they are true, they derive from life. They are born of the unknown – and not of habit, or know-how, or intention, or of some recipe.’
Echoing what I have just told him about my work:
‘There comes a time when serious work is no longer an effort. When demanding work of that kind no longer tires you.
‘You just have to give back what you have received.
‘Sometimes, you work, you do your best, but there is no reward. The thing escapes you, you can’t get inside it.
‘Too many artists play it safe and keep within the bounds of the possible.
‘Above all, never affirm.
‘It’s important to see that my paintings are ultimately stimulating. They are not at all the kind of thing that inspires despair.’
– Bram van Velde, in Juliet’s Conversations with Samuel Becket and Bran van Velde