Jiddje Straatsma is a Dutch painter and graphic designer who works in a wide range of genres, including landscape, still life and portraits, and publishes his work on the Internet on this website and this blog. Jiddje is outspoken about his hard work ethic and demanding self criticism; I would like to bring to your attention how his paintings oscillate between realism and impressionism, different pieces careening towards either style, in a way reflecting this struggle. In traditional terms his artwork offers soft impressionism, considerably tamed, or “civilized” by realist figuration — reflecting some of John Singer Sargent‘s ambitions. Similarly to the American master, one can identify in Jiddje’s work a search towards a unique personal adaptation of the two trends, seeking an individual original coalescence. That is not an easy task even without considering the competition, and Jiddje holds his own.
The stylistic duality is traceable in probably every aspect of the artist’s output. Impressionistic brushwork is fast, at times impetuous and intense, while the more realistic pieces disclose painstaking precision. Light may cascade in shafts, drowning objects in luminosity, or gingerly tinge the exposed areas. These features, while spreading across the artist’s oeuvre, generate particular interest when colliding in a single painting, such as the still life you see below. The left side of the scene is suffused with light that tints the palette, which gradually darkens as the light weakens — rendering the right side as more realistic (in the generic meaning of the term).
On a psychological level, the painting combines vibrant optimism with cautious realism; we witness the of the two, which translates into a harmonious coexistence. Indeed, I think that harmony, event hunt for it characterizes many of Jiddje’s paintings. In a freer associative play the whole body (literally) of work may also be seen as a dichotomous organism. Blood supply would hence represent harmony, which travels from the heart, the impressionistic streak, to the mind, the realist balance, constantly mediating between the two. The said optimism and realism, as you may already have guessed, are the humours of this “body.”
I think the artist’s choice of palette — usually lusterless, restrained and quietly intense — manifests national qualities, drawing from one of the most glorious of European painterly traditions. The pitcher in particular reminds me of that in Vermeer’s The Kitchen Maid; though of a different color, the milk pouring out of it is of a hue close to that of contemporary rendering. The glowing blues in some of the backgrounds display a van Goghian flavor. The artist may be quoting the masterpieces, positioning his art in a broad artistic and historic context.