Robert van de Graaf (1983, born in The Hague, the Netherlands) is interested in the connection between the mystical in this world, in all its manifestations (the sea, the sky, nature, human built environments, light and darkness), and the sense and the dimension of the spiritual world.
Van de Graaf draws his inspiration from myths, mystical places or stories (both from history and present times) and the philosophy of life. His artworks give substance to his ongoing journey to seek meaning in life.
Van de Graaf questions human destiny and how we as human beings can develop ourselves and grow on a
spiritual level. He wishes his artworks to provide ‘food’ for the soul, both for himself and the viewer.
His artworks should be a (re)discovery for himself and the viewer and he wishes to stimulate a personal deepening. They are his reaction to the superficiality of modern society and the lack of ‘soul food’ for the younger generations.
Van de Graaf transforms the inspiration he draws from these themes into contemporary (symbolic) interpretations while referring to paintings of the old masters such as Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ (1632) and El Greco’s ‘The Vision of Saint John’ (1608-1614). The paintings move between figuration and abstraction, giving the viewer certain freedom of interpretation. At the same time the intensity of the paintings act like a gaze back at the viewer, a reflection of thoughts, crossing the line from observation to introspection and self-examination.
He has been professionally trained in painting and drawing from the age of 13 to 18 by the Dutch artist Erica Meyster (1949 - 2006), before studying Architecture at the Technical University in Delft (MSc 2009). The area of interest that inspired him in the works he made during his youth has remained a source of inspiration in his current work. The moment he began to work with oil paint he fell in love with the medium and this continues to grow ever since.
Van de Graaf experiences the process of creating as inner battles, freedom and faith.