By Lieneke Hulshof

Hand palms can be read to predict our future. The same fingers that bless, stroke or bandage wounds can also smash skulls, infect computer systems with viruses or strike a match and start a forest fire. Hands can caress or they can repress. Longing for contact, and the pain this can cause, are what defines Co Westerik's oeuvre. The painting Kiss of the hand with leaves shows a person about to kiss a hand, seen from the perspective of the ‘kisser’. He paints the happiness at the moment of tender physical contact between two people. Are they lovers or kindred, or is it a mere act of formality? The blood vessels are visible through the translucent skin of a woman's pale, vulnerable hand. It's as if the life and colour have disappeared from the fingers that are about to be kissed.