It‘s All Just Paintings

It‘s All Just Paintings

Urban environments in expressionistic shapes and colours, at times reaching into the surreal or even touching the abstract. These are the paintings of the utrechtian artist L-Tuziasm. Taking a stroll around the picturesque inner city of Utrecht it seems no wonder that this town inspires beautiful art. But is that the case with L-Tuziasm? I‘ve met up with the 41-year-old to interview him about his art and his relationship as an artist to the city.

I meet Lars van den Sigtenhorst in the artsy area of the Vlampijpstraat, in a former manufactory for train parts, which‘s premises are nowadays rented to artists to provide them with spaces to create. We go to his studio upstairs, sit down in the two comfortable armchairs, and have a talk while a jazzy reggae tune plays in the background. Lars‘ pseudonym actually stems from the time when he used to dj at his friends‘ parties. L for Lars and -Tuziasm from enthusiasm.

L-Tuziasm in his studio

The interview goes different than expected. Lars doesn‘t seem to feel a special correlation between his paintings and the city of Utrecht in particular. „Most of my paintings are more like fragments of cities“, he says, „They can be from Utrecht but also another city somewhere in the world“. People often say about his paintings that they remind them of very different places like Rotterdam or New York or, more exotically, the country of Morocco. But: „No painting has got a name like Hamburg, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, it’s all just paintings”.

Lars has done comissioned work, for example a painting of Utrechts iconic Dom Tower. With his free work he usually just starts painting on an empty canvas without sketching. „Then I like it or I don‘t like it, and then I keep on painting and then there comes the city“. Most of it comes without a plan. Though he adds that there is a sort of composition or a colour scheme.

Unlike one could assume from his paintings he never goes to a place to get inspired. Upon asking him about that, he again says that his paintings are more like fragments. He says that he does sometimes get inspired by art, giving M. C. Escher‘s ‘Day and Night‘ as an example. Or he likes a certain colour that day. Then he will be like „Let‘s make a painting with yellow“.

His influences are manyfold and cover a wide range of styles. Masters of the Baroque like Caravaggio or Rembrandt or newer artists like Keith Harring and Escher just as well as graffiti in train areas. For Lars personally it doesn‘t matter whether something is considered high culture or low culture. He has a project where he works with artists from different mediums, which he says is about „Doing the thing you like, without my art is high art and your art is low art“. A topic he commonly discusses with his fellow artists is how to get more people to visit museums. He feels that there is a treshold or an „invisible wall“, as he puts it, preventing people from entering them.

So yes, the interview didn‘t turn out as I expected. There was no story about what in Utrecht makes a local artist paint cityscapes in a special way. There was a unique story about an artist‘s process and spontaneous creativity though. There was a story about the wide range of art and how it can be interpreted. And there was a story about artist‘s working together across their respective mediums, just for the sake of art.

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