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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bas Molenkamp: Creating Abstract Landscapes with Youthful Exuberance

Bas Molenkamp is young, creative and passionate. What a delight to interview! Right at the start he has a fresh, new story to tell. I met Bas in his home on West Street in Sebastopol. The easel set up in the corner of the living room seemed as natural as the sofas around the fireplace.

“When did you start painting?” I asked.
“A couple of years ago,” he replied.
“How did you get started?”

His eyes lit up and he began his story.

Bas Molenkamp is Dutch. He met his wife, Alia, while traveling in India. They traveled together until their joint resources were spent. They arrived in Berkeley, Alia’s family home, and prepared for a less nomadic future. Wanting bucolic surroundings, they began their journey northwards with Mendocino the chosen destination. A stop in Sebastopol to have lunch at Food For Thought (that is now Whole Foods) altered their plans. They were so impressed with the friendliness and casual acceptance of them by Sebastopolians, they settled right here.

Now the story up to this point is not all that unusual. Boy meets girl – okay, not usually traveling in India – boy marries girl – this has some practical side effect, like being able to stay in the US – couple visits Sebastopol – what better place to settle down and have a family. Once established in Sebastopol, Alia became a masseuse and eventually started painting. Bas worked in construction until he was injured, then at the Wild Flower Bakery in Freestone and last went to massage school when Alia became pregnant with their child.

The first time Bas ran his hands over a human body with the intention of relieving stress, he knew that this was the profession for him. The tactile sensation of detecting the sinuous path of muscle and tendon with the fluidity of oil on skin brought a peace within that made the massage a healing for both masseuse and his subject.

Bas attributes his frugal nature to his ancestry. He cannot bear to see anything wasted. As Alia painted, she would leave large blobs of paint on her palette which would eventually dry up – never to be used. One day Bas decided that he would help her out and prepare a canvas with what was left on the palette so that it would not be wasted. He was hooked by painting with the first stroke of the brush. Bas relived the same epiphany that massage had delivered. Alia never got to use that canvas and Bas has been painting ever since.

Bas paints landscapes. They are what I would call “abstract” landscapes as they come from his imagination and draw upon the observer’s. The enthusiasm of youthful exuberance jumps off the canvas as he plays with the nuances of color and form. He uses words such as “delicious” and “dancing” to describe the creation of his images. He experiences a “roar of wanting to go to the canvas” - “a shift in the brain” when a brush is in his hand. Have I already said that he is a delight?

Bas cites Matisse and Renoir as influences in his craft. His results are very different and modern when compared to these masters but the emotion is evident. Bradford Brenner, the nationally acclaimed Sebastopol artist, is a neighbor and friend who has taken an interest in the progression of Bas’ painting. Brenner’s influence is evident and his helpful comments are acted upon.

The first public showing the paintings by Bas Molenkamp is October through January at the Prudential California Realty office at 7300 Healdsburg Avenue in Sebastopol. The Opening Reception is Friday, October 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Marcy Basel, previously featured Artist Profile, will be sharing the walls. Bas offers massage at Osmosis in Freestone or at his home in Sebastopol. If you cannot make it to the opening of his show, please stop by the Prudential office anytime during business hours.

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