Stories of the Ego, Self, Soul

2022 / Oil on linen (aluminium stretchers) / 180 x 450 x 2,5 cm (Triptych)

This work is inspired by the journey of life, where mankind is trying to regain the connection to the soul, to move closer to the light. This process of trail and error is the subject of this work, where on the left Ego prevails, is trapping us, moving towards the Self which is more gentle and less intense, before getting to the pure connection of mankind with the soul on the right.

This philosophy of the different stages of the connection with the soul is inspired by Dante’s La Divina Comedia and the books my wife (well respected psychic in the Netherlands and Belgium) wrote on the topic (‘Het Eeuwige Leven van de Ziel’ (‘The Eternal Life of the Soul’, not yet translated in English)).

In this work Van de Graaf is further exploring his mark making which is charged with meaning, representing a deeper (subconscious) feeling and desire. The mark making should form a language which speaks directly to the heart and soul, not only the ratio and the mind. Van de Graaf is interested to incorporate the connection with music into his painting, like the mark making is forming a sort of music play, moving from pianissimo to forte, from the bass and drums to the cello and piano. On an early age his painting teacher already learned him a good painting should also have the quality of musicality. Van de Graaf is also very much interested how this musicality in painting can give a poetic quality to his paintings. In that philosophy Van de Graaf feels a strong connection with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Zao Wou-Ki, Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly.

This work is a prelude for the next series. In this series he will also further incorporate his poetry into his creative process.


On the 17th of March 2022 Van de Graaf wrote a poem inspired by the painting (translated by the artist from the Dutch original)

Permeated, distorted,


Enveloped by darkness,


in deep potholes, dug by the ego.

Ran away,

Bounced back, fought, won,

A ray of light in the Soul.

Opened, soothed, the return to the Soul,

Along the paths of life,

the longing to the light becoming the compass.

Mountains becoming rocks and turn into the finest gems,

in face of the Soul,

Which lives in the House of God.

Secure under the blanket of the reflection of the moon on the sea,

in the night,

When the silence make the Angels sing,

guiding the Souls to the Light,

Where the tones resolve all the matter,

till the nothing is everything.


The Dutch original;

Doordrongen, verwrongen,


Omhult door duisternis,


in diepe kuilen, door het ego gegraven.


Opgekrabbeld, gevochten, overwonnen,

Een lichtstraal in de ziel.

Geopend, verzacht, de terugreis naar de ziel,

Over de wegen van het leven,

wordt de hunkering naar het Licht het kompas.

Bergen worden rotsen en veranderen in de mooiste edelstenen,

in het aanzicht van de ziel,

Die woont in het Huis van God.

Veilig onder de deken van de weerspiegeling van de maan op de zee,

in de nacht,

Wanneer de stilte de Engelen doen zingen,

en de zielen begeleiden naar het Licht,

Waar de klanken alle materie op doet lossen,

tot het niets Alles is.