Interview with HR+, the Turkish Art Glossy

summer 2012

6-When you taking photos what do you pay attention for? What is important for you about taking photos
It is the second step in the progress of a painting after looking for the subject and choosing the pieces. Important is the main composition and the light which actually is the other half of the composition. The details are to be taken care at later time and mostly are worked out in the paintingprocess itself. Big changes never occur, interchanging main parts after a shoot can be done in Photoshop, I hate to do that, but when, I do it very rough to have it worked out during the painting .


7- How do you transfer photographic images into the imagery you use for painting?

I do a projection on the canvas and draw the outlines through the projected image. It is the worst part of the whole process, working in the dark, just copying the photo. I used to do it very detailed in the early days but after all those years experience it is suffice to pull only the outlines. But I won't like to miss it because the photo and its projection helps very much to translate the third(=reality) into the second(= image) dimension.

8-According to some sources, Photorealism arose from Pop Art. How do you explain the emergence of Photorealism? What are your thoughts about the connection between them?  

Photorealism has been interesting for 40 years as a part of Pop Art because of its accessibillity to the larger audience. In spite of the suggestion its name does Pop Art has grown to an established intellectual property. Photorealism is a far more democratic medium to help people reflecting their own world in the most direct way and in a way they recognize because of making photo's theirselves too!  on the other hand that is were the magic starts because they obviously never get the point how painting so real is done.

11- Rembrandt and Vermeer, who inspired your works, are both Dutch. If we evaluate these works of yours with your work Hollandse Nieuwe, in which there is the flag of Netherlands on a menhaden that is consumed very much in Netherlands, can we draw an inference that you give importance to cultural values?

I like to paint nowadays things which have never painted before. Important to me is to have maximum accessibillity and visibillity. A small flag on the menhaden is very obvious and therefore important. Is has nothing tot do with spreading cultural values to the world. 

12- You carry common objects in daily life by reflecting them on the canvas to the artistic field quite realistically. Most of these images that are sometimes consisted of a lemon rind, sometimes a sandwich or a bowl of salad belong to the fast-food culture. Is there a specific reason why you focus on these images?
These ordinary subjects come along with my desire to show people their own common world.
If any message, I can bring it better in this way. I love to show people light and dark, metaphores which can be seen in all my paintings. And I like to show beauty in its purity. There is no beauty without a beast, so irregularity is important to me too. All those aspects can be find in fastfood from which temptation is actually the most important quality. To induce people to buy my images needs temptational work!

9- When we look at the works of the Fotorealist artists, we see that they generally focus on a certain image. Especially in the first years of your works, I observe that your images of display windows, motorcycles, etc. are quite varied. Your work De Mund associates the works of Richard Estes; your Malcolm Forbes’s Harley seems similar to Tom Blackwell’s works and your Smaakmakers seems to be related to Ralph Goings’s. Do we need to regard these works as references to the abovementioned artists or as parts of the pursuit of images?

During those days, end eighties / start nineties, I was searching my own style. By doing 'an Estes' or 'a Goings' I learned to discover my own points of view, what I liked or not. It helped me to develop skills I needed to find my own subjects. I was very keen on having my own subjects but not ready for it yet. The whole visible world was announcing itsself and I needed a guide. The American way of looking at the world was a new and open one. They used an oldfashioned medium in a totally fresh style. That was the key! Those works were an 'Hommage' and reference at one and a main part of my growth as a painter as well. Later on I spoke to Ivan Karp, the founder and owner from OK Harris Works of Art in New York, and he inspired me to go after my own subjects instead of only doing stylecopying of the allready existing American Photorealist heroes. I already did and showed him  'The Dishwasher', 'Fried Egg' and a 'Pastry' . This was the moment I waited for and a major catalystic moment in my career. He told me to stay close to my Dutch painting soul. The circumnavigation was about to end! I deeply wanted to be in at OK Harris and after a couple of years hard working on new paintings I showed them these and I was invited to be one of the artists of OKH which is a rarity. It is very important for an artist to have its own recognizable subjects and style, as in Photorealism/ Megarealism. I think too many Photorealist painters are copying from others without looking any further which is a great pitty.
The reason why Photorealism has got a revival now is because we are living in a very increasing visual culture, what you see is what you get, Photorealism appeals to this obviously.

10-   You reinterpret Vermeer and Rembrandt in your works like “Rembrandt’s Zelf Potret in Plastic” and “Meisje Van Vermeer in Plastic”. How do you think the perspective of an artist should be towards the art history or the artists before him?

Actually I gave the answer to this in the previous question yet. Artist should go for their own vision and elaboration to legitimate quotations. What I did with the to portraits is bringing them to our time back by wrapping them into plastic as a cheap priced souvenir to be purchased in the museum. The actual paintings are lifesized and therefor the trick is working. But I still consider it as a joke, following the Pop Art way of thinking and in that way quoting Andy Warhol.


1 How did you get interested in art?

I have allways been a visualminded person liking to shape and create. I first started my career as a teacher in physical education at highschool but finally I was more interested in putting the energy in myself rather than in pupils. Just by visiting museums in my childhood with my parents and reading books with a lot of images of paintings I knew from the beginning I had to become a painter. There was no question about, only a matter of time to fullfill this deep desire of creating works of art in a way no one did before.

2- Who were the artists influenced you?

To start with Rembrandt because of his reallife point of view and his clair obscur, the light in his work and of course his incredible sharp eye.
Second Monet, because of the air and colours he discovered and the romantic idea of being a painter, feeling free! 
Third another Dutch painter called Carel Willink who painted very magical landscapes like the old masters did but with a contemporary touch.
Fourth, and there it is, the American Photorealists from Meisel's first book Photorealism. When I saw those very contemporary but skilled works in oil it was the click and justifies combining my traditional oiltechnique with nowadays and common subjects. Richard Estes because of his architectural wideness, Ralph Goings because of his more intitimate interiours and stilllives and Charles Bell of his spectacular blow-ups from little, colourfull, daily things children like. And of course, Tom Blackwell and Don Eddy made like me reflections to paint and Ben Schonzeit makes love me the abstraction of stillive on large scale.

3- Will you have an exhibition soon? 
No. I think it is hard and monotonous to work on ten paintings for just one occasion, I rather take part in groupshows. Of course I had some in the past, at OKHarris in New York and at Plus One in London and I will have in the future but now I like to concentrate on renewing subjects and improving techniques as a sort of investment.

4- Since the invention of photography, many painters have used photographs as a basis for their work. What separates a photorealist painter from an artist that simply uses photography as a tool?

In this perspective I call myself a Megarealist painter and not a Photorealist.
In many ways when I look at the work of some Photorealist painters they do not add anything to the photo than just translating it into paint. That could and happens to be a statement too of course but I don't think it is interesting. Printing the photo is much easier! To me photography is my sketchbook and it helps me to zoom in and to recenter. My paintings starts were the photograph ends. I want to add a new dimension, making new choices, reorganise photographic pieces and of course giving the work the brilliance of glazed layers of oil which allways gives the image far more depht and timelessness than a print or an airbrushed painting in acrylic ever could do.


13-what is megarealism or? What is the different megarealism or photorealism?

I made up the term Megarealism myself. This concept is meant to make a difference with Photorealism. Mega stands for XXL and has to sound nowadays, contemporary and hip. It doesn't have the direct association with photographs. Megarealism has to do with blowing up things in a extreme realistic and painterly way. I don't just follow and copy the photo, I work out a new image in the tradition of  Dutch 17th century way of stilllivepainting. Were photography ends, my Megarealistic paintings start.

14- I know light and shadow is very important for you. Do you talk about it.

There is no light without shadow, this rather poetic statement is very important for me. The stronger the shadow the stronger the light. I like contrasts. To express maximum lightpower I use the so called clair obscur. It helps to focus. In looking for the painted story you are guided by the dark to the light direction.

15-- As far as I know you don't have degree in art.Which school did you graduate from? Have you ever had an education on art?

After I finished highschool I did my bachelor Pysical Education, to be a teacher for ten years in sport in highschool.
In 1987 I started my artistic career as a designer, photographer, painter to get a living out of art. I am selftaught. The goal I had wasn't teached at any school of art. I thought development of my own style could be supported best by going my own way and teaching my self.


5- Are you taking photos yourself?
I never use someone else's work.


16-How did you achieve  do extremely realistic paint . 

It has to to with the very strong longing for 100 % representing reality. To achieve this I first developed skills in various techniques. Acrylique, airbrush, oil. To get to my smooth results I now generate it needed a lot of just copying photographs first and after that litle by little I said goodbye to
Grafittical Archaeology

Lees meer
Kunst uit entropie: Tjalf Sparnaay en de archeologie van graffiti

Lees meer
Artist's statement:

Lees meer
De man die iemand anders was

Lees meer
Megarealisme, het miljoenvoud van de eenvoud, over het werk van Tjalf Sparnaay

Lees meer
Er schuilt een Morris Louis in de rand van de slakom
Het megarealisme van Tjalf Sparnaay

Lees meer
Portret van de persoonlijkheid van de schilder.

Lees meer
Gooi-en Eemlander

Lees meer

Lees meer
Interview with FOODIES WEST, DECEMBER 2013

Lees meer
The Most Delightful Egg: Tjalf Sparnaay & Hyperrealism

Lees meer
Interview Neweekly, China’s biggest Society Magazine

Lees meer
FOUR, prestigious and biggest Magazine on food

Lees meer
Interview with HR+, the Turkish Art Glossy

Lees meer
Exactitudeboek 2009 vertaling

Lees meer