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