By Yasmijn Jarram

Rik Meijers makes ominous creations from the most unusual of materials. His canvasses – often of enormous dimensions – are plastered over with all sorts of objects and materials: paper, tar, beads, cork, bottle tops, glass, feathers, ink, bird seed, wax and beans, all smeared together with thick layers of paint. The paintings look just as frayed, surly and unmanageable as the obscure marginal types depicted by Meijers, interspersed with mythical-looking animals or creatures. The relief conjures up a physical confrontation with these shabby tramps, martyrs, gurus, pin-ups, quacks and prophets. This is the territory of uncontrolled whims.

Somehow, however, Meijers’ compositions avoid being purely dark. His rather clumsy, hapless style of painting give the works an essence that is childlike and primitive – and which is reinforced by the maskers that are dotted about here and there. The bottle tops and bases of bottles that decorate the portraits are reminiscent of the inlaid precious stones and gold paint of aureoles on religious images. Although Meijers does literally smear his characters with tar and feathers, in the end he actually places them on the pedestal most suited to them. Meijers displays the abject side of human nature in all its beauty.