Henk Pander Paints Dramatic Personal Accounts Through History

by CaroPosted on

The vivid paintings and drawings of Henk Pander reflect on a lifetime of experiences – memories of Nazi-occupied Europe, the Vietnam war, and 1960s counterculture all make their way into his dramatic imagery set against the backdrop of Oregon. Pander first moved to Portland from the Netherlands in the 1960s, and continued to work as a stage set designer through the 70s and 80s, owing to his theatrical style. There is a surrealism in his realism. That is to say, his works capture the nightmare of real life disasters, death, disease and pollution. With the technique of European masters like Holbein and Dutch landscape painters, many images find the quiet moments before and after death, in spite of their horrifying circumstances. In one portrait, a World War 2 era soldier seems to accept fate with an almost passive expression, as his plane torpedos to the ground in flames. Another depicts a ghost like figure floating in the foreground of a sunken jetliner lost at sea. Decay is a recurring aspect in Pander’s work, as in his still life of animal skeletons that seem to rise to life above a pile of rubble and bones, or landscapes of empty, neglected buildings. Pander has unfortunately had very close experiences with death throughout his life, as a survivor of Nazi occupation and having lost friends to the Aids epidemic. Where there is aggression and pain however, the artist also displays gentility in his honest depictions of family members like his late wife and father. Over the years, his personal accounts through modern history have built him up to a record keeper of his generation, a series which the artist continually updates. Starting September 3rd, a selection of his works will be on view at the Blue Sky Gallery and the Halle Ford Museum in Oregon.

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