Following the great tradition of Dutch genre painting depicting scenes of daily life, this week’s cover artist Roeland Kneepkens paints a group of four men at leisure: Well-dressed, polished, the light of the outdoor sun casts itself upon pale faces peering down to study a map. Glasses of wine, a blue sky and light-green grass in the background make one think the painting, “Smokes, Drinks and Maps,” could be of a Saturday afternoon in the Hamptons. Corresponding from Rotterdam, Kneepkens fills us in on his art.
This painting has a narrative quality to it. What’s the story behind it?
It’s a group of men on a journey. I see friendship, interaction, good food and wine to share. Meanwhile, they’re checking their directions. As an observer, I’m trying to make you part of this story—like you’re part of their journey. This is one painting out of a set of two. The other one is called “A Gentlemen’s Picnic.”
Where and how did you learn to paint?
I attended the Royal Art Academy of ’s-Hertogenbosch. These days it’s merged with the academy of Breda and called St. Joost. At the Academy, I discovered my love for painting. It was not a traditional education, so when it comes to the technique, or painting in general, my instructors encouraged me to train myself and look for artists who could help me with that. They did, however, help me a lot in developing my own style and story to tell.
My parents, who are both artists, also supported me—they encouraged me to just paint.
What are your greatest influences or sources of inspiration?
In my own work, it’s the interaction between people and the stories they share. You see friendship, humor, the love for nice clothing and good food. All of my paintings are inspired by real moments in life. When it comes to artists, I’m a great fan of impressionists like Manet, Degas and Lovis Corinth. My favorite illustrator is Félicien Rops, and contemporary artists like Paula Rego and David Hockney are very inspiring. And music, when I paint I always listen to music. This can range from Liszt to some swing, jazz and blues.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on several paintings that I like to call “table scenes.” At the moment I’m working on a large painting with six women.
Although I went to New York three years ago, I only visited Manhattan. I would really like to visit Long Island, maybe in the near future!