surrealist nude oil painting

Venus Lamenting – 14-06-24

A Bit of All

This oil painting ‘Venus Lamenting – 14-06-24’ is bit of all: surrealism, art deco and realism. Basically it’s one big trompe l’oeil. Noticeably the first piece since last May. The reason is I dedicated all my time to the completion of this one. It’s also my first oil painting after ‘Neo Deco – 05-03-24’. It all started with a great reference picture made by Swedish photographer Moisé Benkow in the 1920s. My graphite pencil drawing ‘Venus Lamenting – 13-01-23’ was the result.

Klimt’s Frame

The thing is I produce way more drawings than paintings. Since I consider them as prestudies for oils I have many to choose from. But I have to be very selective. Which one I would like to turn into an oil this time? After careful consideration I chose this very drawing. The initial plan was to revel in recreating that gold frame Klimt used for ‘Judith und Holofernes’. To be honest I was quite curious how detailed I could depict the wood and gold structures. Surely my love for textural expression shows big time, just like Jan van Eyck’s. On the other land a bit lazy as well. No big thoughts and ideas really at this time. But hey, why not give it a try and see what other ideas may come. Something’s gotta give and it always does.


Doing the frame was great. In order to create a satisfying verisimilitude I used my full array of gold paints. Next to this I shaded things up correctly from a tonal point of view. In the reference photo Judith’s frame showed a rather matt look really. That was what I craved for as well. Meanwhile, I remembered a fly Roelant Savery once painted as a ‘trompe l’oeil’. Some time ago I saw that one in the Mauritshuis, here in The Hague. Since this painting is one big optical illusion on it’ s own I thought to do much more. Then an oldie came to mind. In 2008 I painted ‘Maris’ and in 2006 ‘Fruits under arrest’. Both contain my arm and hand. Why not used that for a third time? It offered me the perfect opportunity to use my green velour jacket with red lining. These matched the background in perylene black which at that time still was meant as an undercoat.

A Glass of Wine

One thing lead to another. On a Saturday night I like to drink a glass of red wine. Why not incorporate it as well? Unfortunately a traditional wine glass casted a shadow way to enlongated across the painting.  Therefor I used a french wine glass and it created these sinister teeth as a bonus. The reflection of the wine contained both red and green. Such was sheer luck, matching the jacket nicely. If you crave for wine enter something to eat as well. Olives came to mind because of the color and the red allspice pieces. Last but not least I remembered strawberries as fruits Venus are associated with. Naturally, these props came in numbers of five and form pentagrams. The idea was to arrange them in a triangular composition, counterweighting the rectangle and roundish bodyscape.

The Ukraine

All very fine but something was lacking still. What was Venus lamenting on to begin with? It all seemed a bit corny and shallow. Some things occur not as coincidences. Initially I had this Hans Holbein-like turquoise background in mind with all these subtle swirls. Then one night at the end of a session I stared at the background undercoat and saw structures like people moving. Well, there are many things that are a crying shame these days. Take the Russo-Ukrainian war for that matter. There you have it, the final theme was a done deal. As a former international lawyer this appeals to me a lot and it would fit right into my Slava Ukraini series. These people moving could be soldiers and an entire battle field. 


The Ukrainian landscape also has something to do with my daily routines to check out war efforts on youtube. This way all that currently occupies my mind converged into a single painting. My very aim was to have all these ideas act as layers on top of eachother. Superficiallly the painting process of Venus is the main theme. However, the Ukraine entered the scene giving me the idea of a subdued main theme. May this theme inspire you to think about what freedom means to you. Maybe you can comfort Venus. Love and positivity conquer all things negative.

Oil painting on wood panel (80 x 60 x 0.9 cm)

Artist: Corné Akkers